Time to Step Up Our Environmental Strategies

Sustainability has been a hot button with customers in the imaging industry for years, with vendors offering lower-energy-use products, utilizing safer manufacturing methods and offering environmentally responsible waste-collection programs. Of course, having to meet more stringent government requirements and certifications were critical driving factors for these improvements, but it has trickled down to our customers, who are now more sensitive than ever regarding sustainability-related issues. Well, we can all expect to step it up a notch. Now that the Global Climate Accord has been passed, it would be wise to anticipate an even greater interest and sensitivity to the environmental impact of imaging-related products and services. Basically, expect 2016 to be a watershed, sustainable year, and it would make sense to start getting ready now, before customers begin asking about issues related to reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Keep in mind that from a sales perspective, this presents a terrific opportunity to focus the sales discussion on value-added, sustainability-related capabilities — a far better discussion than one centered on lowering prices to win a deal! Here are two key tips that will help you take advantage of this opportunity:

Don’t wait for the prospect to ask

Just because you aren’t asked questions regarding sustainability doesn’t mean your prospect doesn’t have an interest. Customers are like most salespeople, in that they follow the patterns of discussion they’ve become accustomed to. Product capabilities, services and pricing are front and center, while sustainability discussions often take a back seat or are never brought up at all. This is a missed opportunity since you likely have a story to tell that will differentiate you and help define you as a partner worth buying from. Include your environmental presentation in your sales pitch and proposal, regardless of whether your prospect asks for it.

Update your environmental presentation

It’s time you update and optimize your existing environmental presentation, or if you don’t already have one, set a goal to get one completed for the upcoming year. Include the following sections in your presentation:

1)       How you are a sustainable partner: Include a strong statement regarding your firm’s overall philosophy related to sustainability. Explain how your company “walks the walk” by describing events that your company sponsors, collection programs, recycling efforts, etc.

2)       How your products are environmentally responsible: Include the inherent environmental benefits of the products being offered, related to energy expenditure, as well as product features that could save on paper and supply usage. Also include any product-specific awards that have been given to the products you are proposing.

3)       How the vendors you carry are environmentally responsible: Include the actual sustainability reports or links to the reports produced by the vendors you carry. These are often accessible from the vendor’s global website.

4)       How you can assist your customer in being more environmentally responsible: Include here any managed print, rules-based capabilities, which may include so-called “behavior modification” features, designed to motivate users to print more responsibly.

5)       How you help to ensure the ongoing responsible usage of your products: Describe here your firm’s supply pickup program and how the items are responsibly disposed of, as well as what is done with the device itself after it is picked up and replaced once the lease agreement expires.

6)       How being environmentally responsible will save your customer money: This is where the rubber meets the road in sustainability discussions. Based on your proposed deployment strategy, you likely have a pretty good picture of the before-and-after details of products at your customer’s location — and this is where things can get really interesting. Any product replacements, especially for devices being replaced that are more than a few years old, will nearly always have a lower energy-consumption value, which is defined in the industry by its TEC, or Typical Energy Consumption. This value is based on a comprehensive algorithm the EPA uses to estimate energy consumption during an average work week, for nearly any type of business-related, imaging device. It takes into account how much energy the device is expected to use in all operating states, including standby and “off” states. TEC values can be retrieved either from the vendor or directly from the EPA’s website at www.energystar.gov. These values, when combined with the knowledge of projected volume per device and the number of devices, can be used to estimate total dollars expected to be saved over the lifetime of the lease. Keep in mind that TEC values are not always available for older devices and may therefore have to be estimated.

Once you’ve completed the above and ensure that your sales staff incorporates these important elements in all proposals and presentations, your customers will be pleased to know that they have a partner that not only cares about environmental responsibility, but also equally understands its impact on the bottom line.

Steve Pearl has more than 20 years of experience in managing product and solutions marketing initiatives within the imaging industry. His passion is in strategic planning and supporting sales efforts related to solutions, vertical markets, and environmental programs.

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