Michael Amiriby Michael Amiri

Today, many office equipment dealers (OEDs) are standing at a crossroads. Print activity is declining and pricing is under severe competitive pressures. Like it or not, these current trends and ever-evolving technology are compelling reasons why OEDs are seeking additional revenue-generating opportunities in order to ensure continued growth. For many, managed IT services has been embraced as one of the key strategies to achieve that growth.

The managed IT services market is expected to grow to $242 billion by 2021, and dealers are uniquely positioned to step into this booming IT services space. Nowadays, successful office equipment dealerships cannot rely on copy and print sales alone. The OED channel has all the advantages that traditional managed services providers (MSPs) are disadvantaged by – including sales capacity, relationship building and financial capital. With the right IT expertise and technical depth, a world of new opportunity can be created. So, how do you get your dealership there?

Why OEDs Are Well-Suited to Sell Managed IT Services

The current marketplace is desperate for quality providers that customers can trust with a mission-critical IT infrastructure, and office equipment dealers are perfectly suited to deliver these services. If your customers like dealing with you on the copy and print side, chances are they’d also like to purchase IT services from you. Businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses ( SMBs), appreciate one-stop shopping. By diversifying your portfolio, expanding your breadth of knowledge and expertise, and offering managed IT services to your customers, you can further solidify existing relationships, bring on new clientele and add some impressive recurring revenue streams. 

Let’s break down the three main reasons why OEDs should make managed IT services a core line of business.

1. You’re Already in the Customer Service Business

Business owners value relationships and prefer to work with vendors they know and trust. Office equipment dealers understand this notion and are already great relationship builders. If you have happy customers purchasing hardware, print and other office equipment solutions, you can leverage your reputation for excellent customer support and translate that into other areas of your customers’ infrastructures, specifically the mission-critical IT.

Managed IT services are all about providing customers with peace of mind and insurance for critical systems and data – and as system failure and unplanned downtime become increasingly intolerable, the importance of trust in these deals can’t be understated. You’re already viewed as a trusted advisor for your customers, and by integrating IT into the mix, you can become even more of that one-stop shop that so many SMBs are looking for. 

2. Technology is Converging 

The office equipment industry has already been transitioning toward managed IT services with solutions like managed print, which boasts many of the same benefits offered by outsourced technology management: remote monitoring, predictable costs and simplified billing, improved systems efficiency and more. 

As this technology convergence continues, new phenomena like the internet of Things are syncing each and every device and endpoint being used both at home and in the office. And in business, whoever owns the network or the infrastructure owns the customer – leaving dealerships with only one choice: expand the scope of your services to include IT and technology management before IT providers expand into the office equipment space and box you out.  

3. You Know How to Sell 

The best technology services offering isn’t worth much if you can’t sell it. However, you already have well-established customer relationships, got a foot in the door (and in some cases, the network) and to top it all off, have some of the best salespeople in business today. You know how to sell, and you’ve got the workforce and existing customer base needed to find success in managed IT services.

Not all reps need to be trained in IT sales, and there are a few key hires that need to be made; most notably the Virtual Chief Information Officer or vCIO. But with the right training and the ability to identify the top 10-20 percent of current customers who are a good fit for outsourced IT, OEDs can jumpstart their transition into this growing market and bring in impressive new revenue streams without having to capture any net new prospects or invest heavily in upfront marketing programs. 

What’s the Next Step?

If you’re an OED thinking, “well I haven’t made this transition yet. Is it too late for me?” To answer you blatantly; no. It’s never too late to plan for what your dealership will look like within the next 5-10 years. But remember that the industry is changing, and you don’t want to be left behind. Your customers’ vendors are trying to adapt to this ever-changing landscape of business relationships, so have a plan to be prepared!

IT services is different from your traditional core services, so you need to truly treat this as a business within an existing business. Some steps you can take to make this transition include:

  • Build – Ensure that you have the right staff in place to help your core sales team with opportunities, and properly identify the business opportunities where you can achieve operational success and strong margins.
  • Partner – Select the right partner(s) who understand the dealer channel and can provide the tools, expertise and technical personnel needed to bridge the gap between office equipment and IT.
  • Acquire – Keep a keen eye on acquisition targets in your geographical region that can further expand your expertise and add important pre-sales resources that are necessary to succeed in delivering a quality IT services offering.

Overall, managed IT services present dealers with an unprecedented opportunity to expand the scope of their services and take greater ownership over their customers’ network and infrastructure – and, in doing so, exponentially increase the value they’re bringing to the table and further cement existing account relationships. A properly executed managed IT services strategy is rapidly becoming a major reason for the new good fortunes of the imaging channel. Hundreds of other dealers have embraced this challenge. Are you ready to pivot your dealership for the future? If so, we hope these tips will become a river guide for your future success.

Michael Amiri A 20-year veteran of the IT industry, Michael Amiri is the Senior Director of Dealer Services at Continuum Managed Services. He has built a team of resources at Continuum that is dedicated to supporting the office equipment channel and its efforts to maximize both efficiencies and profitability with competitive managed IT service offerings. Prior to Continuum, he was a co-founder of an IT holding company specializing in software security services. Michael has also been a featured speaker and editorial contributor to dozens of industry-related events and publications.