Though SMB customers oftentimes place more scrutiny on expenses and have fewer available IT resources, the SMB customer base is a particularly attractive market for dealers and vendors alike.
It is important for dealers to understand the segment’s particular challenges and requirements, and deliver reliable, customized solutions that solve pain points while reducing costs, improving productivity, and establishing the framework for fostering long-term relationships.
With many organizations planning to continue operations with hybrid workforces in 2021 and beyond, businesses will be looking to futureproof the office and the technology solutions supplied to employees. Sustainable office equipment solutions offering environmental benefits that can also provide reliability and efficiency, all in a cost-effective package, will be a must-have in businesses moving forward.
It is no secret that the SMB customer places emphasis on the relationship they have with their dealer. SMB customers favor a dealer that offers a high level of service, one who cares about their businesses’ success and ensures their systems are running efficiently – now and in the future. Because SMB clients may have fewer resources and capital, they value a dealer who can provide both value-added services that transcend the print scope, and consult on print technologies and market trends that can contribute to cost savings and caliber.
Education is key in creating successful relationships in the SMB space. Prior to the sale, it is beneficial to educate potential SMB customers and better inform and redirect the decision-making from the typical routine of price and feature comparisons. Now more than ever, a dealer must understand the customer’s requirements and workflow to be able to provide innovative and reliable options suited to complement and improve their operations and effectively serve the needs of the evolving workforce. Essentially, it is a dealer’s responsibility to help futureproof the client’s investment.
One thing is for certain – every business is different. Understanding a customer’s exact needs is key to recommending and placing the right product, ensuring satisfaction and maintaining a positive relationship. Regardless of print volume or the types of documents printed, SMB customers cannot compromise on professional image quality, productivity, affordability in terms of cost to purchase, operate and maintain, and environmental benefits, such as low energy consumption.
As a general rule of thumb, the best printers/MFPs for the SMB environments should be capable of scaling as a business grows and able to accommodate increasing office demands. The ideal product or fleet should not require a customer to sacrifice reliability or affordability.
As dealers look to provide futureproof solutions and attract new customers, inkjet printing technology will help differentiate a dealer’s portfolio and service/support offerings. Today’s business inkjet printers/MFPs offer a number of advantages over legacy laser devices that address productivity and reliability, but also the ever-increasing concern of sustainability.
Much like enterprise customers, sustainability has become a more predominant factor in the decision-making process for SMBs. Fortunately for today’s discerning SMB customer, inkjet printing solutions use considerably less energy and have fewer moving parts than the competitive laser offerings, saving clients on time and expenses. High yield consumables on today’s modern inkjet printers/MFPs also translate to low maintenance, low intervention and reduced waste. From a dealer perspective, this leads to a better customer experience while improving the dealer’s service profitability. A true win-win for both the dealer and the customer.
When it’s time to compete for business, legacy, antiquated technology makes it difficult to inspire confidence and out-of-the-box thinking. Dealers that are innovative, disruptive and nimble will be best positioned for success. And, given the changes in the printing market, now is the time for dealers to reevaluate the portfolio of products that they have to offer.
With inkjet technology, the compelling total cost of ownership based on reduced supply expenses, lower energy consumption and fewer service requirements means dealers are most likely to have a happy customer willing to provide a positive reference. After all, prospective customers trust insight from their peers, and are more open to change when a dealer is able to provide examples of great solutions and services that translate into lower operating expenses or increased profit.
A partner that is willing to “go the distance”
Forging a lasting relationship with customers in the SMB segment requires more than just reliable hardware. Working closely with the customer to understand specific objectives and pain points and presenting innovative office equipment solutions helps create a viable relationship that will expand as technology continues to advance.
Successful dealers that establish roles as trusted consultants will help share their knowledge of new printing technologies and subsequent benefits for the business. While SMB customers need a dealer they can trust, dealers also need an office equipment manufacturer partner that is willing to “go the distance” for them and their clients.
It is essential to partner with an innovative, channel-first manufacturer that is spearheading industry technology trends and making the appropriate investments in R&D and product development to provide dealers with a broad range of solutions to effectively sell to the SMB segment. Marketing and technical support, sales enablement tools, financial incentives, and incremental product solutions should all be determining factors when choosing a manufacturer partner.
A partner that helps dealers be flexible and quickly adapt to market needs, will better position dealers to meet the needs of the SMB and generate more business.
Print, a piece of the puzzle
It is important for dealers to continue to diversify. Augmenting your product portfolio does not have to be limited to new print technologies. Though, perhaps now more than ever, the ability for a dealer to offer an extensive range of print solutions spanning from desktop to the print shop is key.
Truly understanding a customer’s environment can potentially help a dealer expand their business. For instance, if an SMB clients’ workflow is paper intensive and could benefit from document management, being able to offer companion solutions, such as document scanners that easily integrate into the company’s networked environment can provide the added benefit of a more efficient and streamlined workflow.
Relevant categories adjacent or complementary to the office equipment space include wide-format printing, scanning, projection and label printing, allowing dealers to potentially capture more business with existing clients and support expansion. Providing a suite of reliable, business technology products creates the foundation for better efficiency and productivity and a better chance for overall success.
Joseph Contreras is Commercial Marketing Executive, Office Solutions, for Epson America Inc. He oversees portfolio management, strategic partnerships, software integration and support, and sales and marketing programs for Enterprise inkjet printing solutions.