Over the last 3 to 4 years a new type of product has entered the world of the office equipment industry. Of course I am speaking of the A4 MFP. They entered the market from the traditional printer companies, primarily Hewlett Packard and Lexmark. These products were basically printer based, that limit the paper size they could handle to A4 size paper which is a European paper size. Their pitch was that you could save money if you had no need for paper sizes larger than 8 ½” by 14″ (legal size).
Obviously this concerned sales people like me and my peers at Corporate Business Systems because we did not have any products to compete with these low cost units. Over time the traditional copier companies started to produce machines that would compete. This made things even tougher at CBS because our manufacturers, Savin and Kyocera, still did not have an A4 product that would compete. As I realized these units were here to stay, I became concerned about a few things regarding them:
- How could a product that is 1/3 the size and weight of a traditional MFP of the same speed match the durability that customers need to have from their products?
- These products were far less robust than the traditional MFP’s in terms of available accessories, easy to use customer interfaces (control panel) and low operation cost.
- The A4 products on the market had no ability to interface with the many solutions that can help customers increase efficiency and productivity.
Late last year Kyocera come out with two new pieces of equipment that allowed us to compete in this segment for the first time-the KM FS 3040 series and the KM FS 2026 color series. Savin followed up by launching the A4 color product in January, the Savin C230 series. Both seem like nice units but now that I have ones that allow me to compete effectively with these products how do we come to terms with the objections above?
The answer is simple. We need to do what we have always done at CBS-strive to be consultative sales people. For some this is just lip service and really only applies to the ability to add solutions software to their traditional MFP sales. Consultative selling is really about recommending the product(s) that are the best fit for your customer.
The new A4 machines have their place but they have been oversold by reps whose only skill set is to find customers that will buy on a low price. They never consider if it is the right fit for the customer. In the next 2 years we will find out what impact these units will have on our industry and if they are to be or not to be. Our goal at CBS will be to resist the urge to simply match products and price but rather match the product with the customer needs.