I just signed an mps contract with the college mentioned in this post.
It has been 6 months since I started working with this school. Long sales cycles indeed...
The time that has elapsed from the first meeting to the signing of the contract which took place this morning was a bit frustrating and anxious at times, but shaking hands with a new customer and switching gears into building a relationship with the organization is well worth the wait.
I think what set me at ease for most of the process and what has helped me to deal with the long periods of time between the meetings, board meetings, phone calls, e-mails and correspondences with the IT manager from the school was the ability to focus on everything except the sale.
Maybe that sounds a little "anti-sales" in philosophy but I digress, thinking about the commission, the recognition or the smile that a contract would bring to my CEO's face was the last thing I thought about during the different phases of this project.
What I tried to focus on was the customers needs and getting to know some of the end users along the way, the simple pleasure of walking the grounds of the school while moving from building to building during the analysis as well as the times spent meeting with the schools IT manager, getting to know him better and understanding the needs of the school and its staff.
People are essentially what MPS is all about, at least that is what it should be about.
You may have a slick elevator pitch and all the chutzpah in the world and you may even get someone to ink a deal with you. However if all of that is the product of a focus bent on the acquiring of money, your gains will only lead to problems. Success, in the sense of building a long term relationship that will be profitable for you and for your business can and will only come from approaching the process with a spirit of passion and a drive to help other human beings.
You have to want your customers to succeed, to do better and to move forward. You have to provide them with a product and service that will help them to achieve said goals. You have to not only want this for the person who signs your contract but for everyone in their organization.
The ability to sell is no longer all that it takes to be a great salesman, not in this industry. This is managed print services and in this realm you have to be real, you have to be honest and as silly as it might sound you have to approach each and every prospect with love. I don't mean an outward pouring of sentimentality but rather an honest and true dedication and concern for every single person in the organizations that you deal with. You really have to care about how the end users are doing, what their opinions are, how they feel and sometimes what their hobbies, aspirations and life passions are. Some might look at this perspective as trivial and or useless however, these interactions are the division lines between being a corporate machine or a business composed of caring and organic human interaction. This interaction is just as important in regards to the end users and various staff members as it is in regards to the CEO, the CFO and the CIO.
Managed print services is not really about machines, document output, business process optimization, toner cartridges or anything else for that matter. It is about people and the promises we make to them. It is about being as good as our word and standing behind the principles that we project. It is about our actions and how they reflect our ability to take care of people in the way that we have promised that we will. It is about the fruit that our promises produce.
If you are going to make it in this industry you have you to be ready for long sales cycles...
You have to be open to getting to know the people, because once they sign that contract...
They are your people.