Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials

by West McDonald, Vice President of Business Development, Print Audit & Owner, FocusMPS

Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials

Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials . Print Audit . PAE Business . Managed PrintAre you new to Managed Print assessments or are you a seasoned veteran looking to raise your “A” game? Either way, it’s a good idea to make sure that your assessment practice is better than the folks you are competing with.  There is an all out war for pages and a solid assessment practice can help ensure that you win more business with better profits.  Below are 6 great focus areas to help you wow your customers and win more business through assessment selling:

1. Document your assessment methodology:

You wouldn’t bake a cake from scratch without following a recipe, so why conduct a Managed Print assessment by the seat of your pants?  Sure, your assessment specialist might be worth their weight in gold and they may be doing a great job helping you to win more business.  I certainly hope they don’t get hit by the proverbial bus because your assessment practice will go with them.

A good assessment methodology will ensure you develop a repeatable and scalable assessment practice and it will also help demonstrate to your customers that you are as expert as you profess to be.  I’ve been helping people document and market their assessment methodologies for years so I know first hand that this works.  As my daddy used to say, “If it ain’t written down it ain’t never happened.”

2. Use modern tools:

Your customers have evolved.  To varying degrees of sophistication, the modern office employs some of the most advanced software and network tools to ensure optimal business process optimization.  We live in the age of software for everything.  Knowing this, how do you think you’ll look to a CIO or IT Manager if you walk in to do an assessment with paper floor plans and clipboards?  It’s not just about impressing your customers.  Modern tools also shorten the assessment process and ensure that your data sets line up the way that they should.  Efficiency and accuracy are critical and modern tools will ensure you get it right the first time.  When you’re selling in a maturing market with an ocean of competitors there are no second chances.

There are 4 basic toolsets you’ll want to use:

  • Device specific RMM (Remote Monitoring & Management):  There are a few good ones out there, of course, I prefer Print Audit’s Facilities Manager.  Device RMM tools have become essential in both the assessment process and ongoing management of MPS programs (but they are no longer enough).

Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials . Print Audit . PAE Business . Managed Print

  • User & Document specific RMM tools:  To truly understand why customers are producing documents you need to understand the “who, what, why, when & how” of document production.  In the old days, we used to ask questions to get some of these details.  You are still going to ask questions, it’s the human touch, but don’t rely on them as your basis for understanding human behavior because testimonial is often unreliable.  Just like witnesses looking at a lineup of ne’er-do-wells, what they believe to be true is far too often incorrect.  To get to the heart of the matter you will require software that gathers metrics on document types being printed, job sizes, and user device-usage statistics.  Print Audit 6 is a good one, and there are a few others. You may be using ours or another AFTER the assessment as part of a final solution, but it’s time to start using them DURING the assessment.  The level of user-based document production details will make you look far better than your competitors who are basing their assessments on Q&A.
  • Mapping tools:  There are a few good providers out there.  A good mapping tool will also help you to do TCO analyses for current and future states.  Having a good bird’s-eye view  of the layout of printers and MFDs is extremely helpful when helping a customer to design a future-state.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in offices where I got lost 6 times in an hour because of strange floor layouts!  In order to optimize the layout of any recommended device changes, you need to know if where you are putting them actually works with where employees are located.
  • BI (Business Intelligence) dashboards:  Presenting static reports generated from a .csv file are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Assessment presentation tools like Print Audit’s Insight BI Dashboard are more interactive and allow for “deep dives on the fly” to help customers develop insights on the spot.  BI dashboards are much better at telling customer stories than static reports and allows them to be more engaged and responsive.  They’ve seen a thousand reports, and like death by PowerPoint, presentation of static reports that require a ton of explanation are often dreaded and counter-productive to what you are trying to accomplish.  Intelligent and interactive BI dashboards provide the ability to share deep insights and will make the presentation of all your hard work much more effective.  There is nothing I love more than seeing a customer “lean in” to get a closer look and tools like Print Audit’s Insight BI dashboard get them leaning further than anything else.

Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials . Print Audit . PAE Business . Managed Print

3. Start with a blank canvas:

A few years ago I was conducting an assessment with a partner for an insurance company.  The user to device ratio was nearly 1:1.  The sales rep who was assisting me looked around and immediately said to me “This is going to be a gold mine!  They have way too many printers!”  He was drooling over the potential to consolidate the vast forest of printers in a pool of MFDs.  We soon discovered, however, that the reason they had a printer on just about every desk was because they were using an application that required a serial (non-networked) connection.  There was no alternative application for their workflow and so they were stuck with all those printers.  So for this particular customer, a 1:1 user to device ratio was the perfect solution.  The important lesson here is that we should have a clear mind when starting any assessment.  Coming out too soon with opinions on what a customer needs to change can make us look silly and cloud our vision for the real opportunities in the account.

4. Tag team:

Assessments are a team sport.  In my early days of doing assessments, I would do them “solo” and I learned the hard way the error of my ways (by “hard way” I mean I lost a few deals…).   My most successful assessments have been done with two people.  One person using the tablet to do floor mapping and to gather device specific information, and the other person with eyes-up to observe user workflow and to ask/answer any questions.  Interaction with the people in the office is essential, as well as looking for paper stacks sitting on trays or in recycling bins.  Looking for “waste pages” or less than optimal printer placements will go a long way ensuring your assessment turns into solutions that sell.

Want To Win More and Assess Less? 2016 Assessment Essentials . Print Audit . PAE Business . Managed Print

5. Data Validation:

Nothing loses more customer faith in your assessment than them pointing out errors in your data sets.  They will go out of their way to invalidate your findings and it is your job to make sure they have nothing to go on.  Clean data sets impress and ensure that all your hard work is worth it.  Work hand in hand with your customers to ensure they sign off on all data sets before you present any findings.  When a customer agrees on all current state costs, volumes and device counts up front your presentation of current state findings and future state recommendations will be much, much more successful.  Any good carpenter knows to “measure twice and cut once.”  Make sure you’re doing the same by checking your data (and re-checking your data).

6. Make your customer help:

When I first started doing assessments I would work my butt off designing a future-state only to have to revise it several times to get closer to what is culturally acceptable for the customer.  A neat little trick I learned actually came from a customer IT Manager who requested permission to work with me on the future state design.  I wasn’t so sure about that at first, but thanks to modern mapping and future state design tools I was able to work with him through a web-based screen sharing app.  When I presented the future state recommendations to management, the IT Manager made it clear that he was involved with the effort.  It was the fastest assessment selling close I had experienced up to that point.  Now, without fail, I make sure that my assessment methodology details the need for customer involvement in future state design.  When people feel like something is their idea they are far more likely to accept the outcome.

For large assessments (multiple locations, thousands of devices), it is not realistic to have the customer help with the entire future state design.  In those situations, I get them to help with 10% to 20% of the future state build and get them to agree that we understand their wishes from that point on.  You will still get them feeling ownership and they’ll be your ally when presenting your recommendations.

Mastering these 6 assessment tips will help you to win more business, period.  Now it’s your turn!  What tips do you have to share that have made your assessment practice more successful?  How can you shorten the amount of time it takes to do an assessment without sacrificing win rates and overall effectiveness?   We are looking forward to your thoughts and insights!  Make sure to leave your comments and to share this with others.