There we were, sitting shoulder to shoulder with a freshly minted copier rep talking to a prospect. The rep was leading the team in monthly revenue and looking to lock it all up with this opportunity. The five of us, there on the provider side, two on the prospect, were discussing the benefits of managed services. Our prospect was lamenting the many challenges with the current IT services provider:
Yes - we could have closed right then and there...
But we didn't
Out of my mouth came the following words,
"Well, we can certainly remove all your current issues. Our managed services program is designed to address everything you mentioned...but for now, let's concentrate on getting your copiers squared away, and then talk about managed services...don't let a managed services decision get in the way of new copiers..."
Wait...what did I just say?
I heard my words - hell I said them - tumble out like Yahtzee dice. A glance to the copier rep, dutifully keeping his mouth shut, revealed my conversation killing oratory was appreciated - it was the end of the month/quarter/year/promotion/SPIFF and he was close to quota - I swear he winked at me with that, "don't worry kid, I got this..." Kid? To this day, my eyes still roll into the back of my head.
In the managed services sales realm, this prospect was displaying gobs and gobs of IT services pain - it was a perfect time to address the issues, trial-close, bring out the contract, and get commitment to move forward with the probe.
I mean, the guy was tossing softball after softball - as Hank Moody would say, "...we could have sold the shit out of those 15 minutes...go on with your bad self..."
Then What Happened?
We exchanged business cards, handshakes, promises to keep in touch and left the scene. Our copier rep, certain the many printing and copying devices would be his, didn't consider the possible managed services commission.
Fast forward a few days, the end of the month, the sales manager has instructed our anxious copier-dude to finesse versus push this prospect. This had the opposite effect. "Alec Baldwin" stormed out, contract in hand, pricing firm, attitude pitched. Singularily tasked with getting them to 'Sign on the line which is dotted!"
Copier deal: Lost in Translation
He went for the close in the lobby.
He finagled, cajoled and pushed, finally being asked to leave. He was '86'd' and told "to never come back." End of story, end of sales cycle, end of the managed print services, big iron production unit and we thought, managed services opportunity.
Everybody blamed the prospect, "They're liars...we did everything they asked us to do..." and exalted the rep for his tenacity. No time for remorse, the team moved on to the new month.
I've seen plenty of prospects "defy logic" and go with the competition. Still, something just didn't pass the smell test - they didn't seem disingenuous when we spoke.
Our managed services practice was raring to go, copier reps on the street every day, good hardware sales, decent managed print services talk track and paltry traction in managed services. We had built this thing from scratch, trained glazed over newbies for weeks - zilch. This escapade was more salt on wounds.
Faced with nothing to lose, the choice wasn't all that difficult; a couple of weeks later, we rolled the dice and gave the upset, no-go copier opportunity a call, asking if they were still interested in hearing our, managed services story.
They did. We told. They engaged. A complete hardware refresh, help desk, remote support, BDR, AV and firewall. The works.
We secured revenue from an account that had perviously kicked our copier rep to the curb. How could this happen? If you were to ask the copier guys, they would have said there was no way this dead opportunity would pay more for 'IT services' than they would have for the mythic copier deal.
But they did.
If you're thinking about offering managed network services or running a practice now and these questions seem familiar to you, let's get together.
Over 90 days, this client has contacted the help desk 44 times. They've moved applications, added and deleted users and increased the network by 2 users. the client is a reference account.
"We've experienced more support, better response, and a deeper relationship than our previous(two) providers. You understood our requirements better than we and never pushed a brand, product or service."
Indeed, as a result of our service, we are quoting another small network for an ancillary business segment, doubling the total number of users.
Not bad for a failed copier sale.