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Christine Dunne

Office Equipment Dealers Gear up for the Future

New Knowledge, Products, and Processes Will Help Pave the Way Forward

Jun 1, 2020 12:22:28 PM


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Office equipment dealers, no doubt, have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are looking to the future—ready to bounce back stronger than ever.


“We have, without a doubt in my mind, the best trained sales force that I’ve ever had the opportunity to support,” said Kevin Hoverman, Regional Director of Sales and Production at Systel Business Equipment. “And they’re coming out with not just a whole bunch of jargon, but actual training. Real training that we had to do.”


Dealerships interviewed for this piece say the last couple of months have given them extra time to learn new skills, brainstorm new product offerings, and improve processes.


Source: Pixabay


“We want the best and the brightest out there speaking to the people of Oklahoma on how to help their businesses and how to get through this—so we went on a surge of online education, webinars…I’ve never seen learning take place like this in any other organization I’ve been in,” said Matt Bauer, Senior Vice President of Sales Operations at Standley Systems.


Topics that resonated with sales teams include the security of systems being put in place/endpoint security, unified communications, voice over IP, managed IT, business continuity, production applications, and even mobile printing. Often, the training has come in the form of webinars from partner manufacturers. In some instances, dealers conducted their own research. 


“It’s all self-research, independent, a lot of webinars, a lot of phone calls, a lot of reaching out,” said Kyle Romick, President of Connected Office Technologies. “Unfortunately, we can’t just go to a trade show and steal with our eyes. We’ve got to look out into the market, see what’s available, and vet it out as quickly as possible.”


This research has helped Romick discover a new product for his portfolio: temporal scanners for businesses. This product is essentially an iPad with facial recognition software that scans an individual, shows his or her body temperature, and (if the temperature is acceptable) provides access to a particular part of the building. He’s currently obtaining samples and demo kits from different companies to determine the best option.


Dealerships are also crafting new offerings for home workers. David Upchurch, Solutions Specialist at DEX Imaging, said his company’s sales force has created bundles that include a small MFP (with scan and print capability) and installation that is paid for on a monthly basis.


“It was…’hey, we’ll come and set this up in your home for such and such a price, monthly, and you’ll have your home office ready to go’,” he said.


Another opportunity is managed IT services for home environments, said Standley Systems’ Bauer. With home workers using technology from a wide variety of manufacturers, it’s important that these devices are properly managed on a day to day basis.


“We’ve always been the predominate force in architecting an office correctly; now can we do the home office correctly,” he said. “Because I believe everybody put a Band-Aid on the remote workspace right away…now what we’re looking at is the administration part of it.”


Robust training over the last few months is enabling sales teams to speak more authoritatively on new and already existing product offerings. For instance, Systel Business Equipment salespeople have developed a greater knowledge of Fiery technology (EFI provided free professional certification), unified communication, and managed IT.


“It really accelerated our reps’ ability to have conversations around particularly unified communications and voice over IP and managed IT solutions,” Hoverman said. “Being able to have a conversation about how are you supporting your remote users? And when they come back, what does that look like?”


Systel Business Equipment has also used the last couple of months to improve internal processes and operations, including digitizing its cash to order process as well as cutting out expenses that do not provide a return on investment. Over at DEX Imaging, Upchurch has developed an e-form sales tool for reps selling lower-end software.


“All (the sales person has) to do is hit that link, fill in the little form, and it’ll email me the information and I can go from there—either give them a quote or gather more information if need be,” he said.


While dealers are excited that customers are starting to open up their businesses, they are also more equipped than ever to conduct virtual sales calls, assistance, and demos if necessary. But, arguably, the biggest silver lining of the pandemic has been an opportunity to push the reset button.


“The way the economy was before COVID was everybody was moving so fast that nobody was making informed or educated decisions,” said Connected Office Technologies’ Romick. “Everybody was just filling demand, filling demand, filling demand. For me, at least, and a lot of my good customers, this has actually been a blessing in disguise. I hate to say that, but it has given us that mental space to stop, pause, and move in the right direction.”


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