We typically don’t refer to ourselves as “Copier Dealers” anymore unless you have been in the industry for a long time. But there seems to be 3 types of Dealers currently operating in the “Copier Dealer space, with the third type being more rare than the first two.
The first type is the old style Box mover. Their sales people think “solutions” only slow down the sales cycle, but doesn’t understand why his \ her margins keep shrinking. All he wants to know is speeds and feeds. How fast is your current Box (Copier) and can yours do double sided single pass scanning, because my new one can. When they run into competition selling a Solution (see Def of a true solution) they typically drop their price or become dealer type #2.
Type # 2 Dealer relies on the Manufacturer or Software Provider to provide Solution Support. Many Direct Sales Organizations, Branches and smaller Dealers don’t have the resources to provide in house installation or support for a software solution. Far too often I have seem this lead to a software sale that NEVER gets installed or NEVER gets truly up and running. We lost a deal for a school that we had done a real good job supporting over the years. But they asked us to also quote a Document Management System. We had in house folks trained to install & support the DMS Solution and some support from the manufacturer for specialized Workflow. Our competitor was a Global Xerox Company that came to the school in force, made great promises but had a terrible demo, according to the customer. But they “said” it would work great once the new fleet was installed, it didn’t. We were told that we didn’t need to demo our new equipment because they knew us and our equipment and service & support had been constantly good. We thought that it was ours to loose, But they also asked the Xerox \ Global company to propose a Document Management System. They came in $10K lower than we did. The Customer thought that we were “screwing” them so they gave the entire deal to a slick talking sales person from an untested dealership that had never actually done anything for them. My sales person was beside himself as this had been a decent size customer that he and we had taken good care of. His first instinct was to send a nasty email but after he cooled off and we talked he sent a very nice email thanking them for the past business and letting them know to please contact us if there is anything we could ever do (That is how a professional sales person handles this kind of situation). They called him SIX MONTHS later asking if there was any way he could get them out of their lease with the Xerox Global equipment? He said yes, in about 2 more years! And he did. They told us about the terrible experience they had with this Global Xerox Dealer. This school is 99.5% MACs. All you have to do is walk around, or walk into the IT Dept and there are MACs everywhere. Even their Windows OS run on MAC hardware. The Global Xerox Sales Person had the nerve to ask them “When they became a MAC house?” This Clueless Sales person apparently didn’t notice or didn’t want to know because as soon as they did an upgrade tot heir MAC OS all of their printing broke. And the Global Xerox Sales Person said that this was the School’s fault because they never told him they were a MAC house???? Really???? He must have been wearing blinders. We also found out that this Global Xerox Dealer paid to have an SE fly in from Florida to do the installation, configuration and training for the new Document Management System (DMS) that they sold to the school. But at the end of the week, it was not up and running and the SE from Florida said “I gotta go” because the Dealer only paid for a week of his time. They NEVER got the DMS running!!! I later told the IT Director if I knew that I didn’t have to get my DMS System running we could have come in $10,000 cheaper too. For some reason he did not think that was funny.
The Third Type of Dealer is typically found in the large regional Dealers. These dealers understand the value of having in house Systems Engineers (SEs) and most of them will have separate Pre & Post Sales SEs (There is a difference). The top tier of these dealers believe in Team Selling, pairing up a Pre Sales Systems Engineer with a Sales Person and have the SE get involved early in the Sales process to “set the bar” to show the customer that not all “dealers” are the same. They will all talk about Solutions but they cannot all fulfill their proposals. I have seen it time and time again from both “copier dealers” and many direct sales branches of the manufacturers. I can’t tell you how many times a new Customer has fallen for it because they are “Cheaper” than e Dealer who really provides (Sells, Installs, and Supports) Solutions. We have picked up, or gotten back so many customers who have believed that “all Dealers are the same”, they are not and some times a customer has to suffer through this painful truth for a couple of years before they can get out of their lease and come to or come back to a REAL Solutions Providing Dealer. That was the case of the School I spoke about above. I will say we don’t always get everything perfect the first try. But we don’t abandon our customers we continue to work with them (if they will work with us) until the solution is up and running as the customer was promised. We recently installed UniFLOW for a large Customer on their AWS (Amazon Web Servers) Servers. It was so new that there really wasn’t much info about how to do it. But we hung in there and worked through the issues, most of which were caused by the costumer locking down every single port (including 8000, 515, and 9100). Ports that we consider normally to be open by default. But we worked through the issues and got it working. In contrast the Direct Sales Branch was kicked off this same network because they couldn’t get UniFLOW to work even on their standard Local Area Network (LAN). That is the difference between a Real Solutions Providing Dealer and one that simple says “we can do that to”. Well Done is better than Well Said!!! Don’t get fooled by a slick talking sales person, ask to speak to their SEs, ask them where they live, and where they are based out of, ask the Dealer or Branch how many SEs they have locally. Now this costs the Dealership money, so we won’t be the cheapest price, but they will be the best value. What is the point in buying a solution if it never gets installed or installed correctly? That Money is wasted. It’s funny that I don’t know anyone who looks to buy the cheapest TV, or the cheapest Car, or the Cheapest Suit. We look for value, the best value, But this almost always costs a bit more than the cheapest. So when you are looking for more than a copy machine, when you want to truly leverage the power of the MFD or Smart MFD so that your company or organization gets the most value from it, than you will need to buy it from a Dealer who has a track record of not just selling software but installing and supporting it. Not all Copier Dealers can support the Software that they sell.
That’s My $0.02