Scanners: One Size Doesn't Fit All
Opportunities abound in the scanner market. But, VARs must match customers to the most effective solution.
Sell Customers What They Need
The first step in determining the proper scanning solution is to do a needs analysis. This involves listening to customers and understanding the flow of paper within their companies. You have to track documents and determine if all will be scanned. Or, maybe only certain documents will be scanned. In either case, VARs will have to recommend a scanning solution that fits the needs of the customer.
Too often, a VAR will sell the same scanner to similar customers. As a result, the VAR will sell both the same solution without evaluating the needs of both customers. If one company has a lower volume of documents, then the VAR probably oversold the customer. The converse is also true. One solution does not fit all customers. It would be like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
Is Color Scanning A Viable Option?
Invariably, VARs will encounter customers who will want, or think they require, color-scanning capabilities. While color-scanning technology continues to improve, it is currently not a reasonable choice for any company that wants to do high-volume scanning. Once again, this is where a VAR must analyze a customer's need and provide the best solution.
Depending on the depth of color that is required, scanning a color image can take as long as two minutes per page. In a production environment, spending this length of time on one document is not usually acceptable. For customers that have legitimate color-scanning needs, we usually recommend a color desktop or flatbed scanner. As image compression gets better, network bandwidth improves and storage prices decrease, volume color scanning will become a reality.
Bring Scanning To Corporate America
VARs should also stay on top of an emerging market which will allow them to sell scanning technology to major U.S. corporations. Corporate America has been slow to adopt scanning technology, but that will change in the future. Applications like enterprise resource planning (ERP) have the ability to be image-enabled. These ERP systems connect companies and allow them to share information among all departments. As the systems become more popular, corporations will naturally move forward with plans to scan more documents, resulting in more shared information.
Selling to a corporate account does not have to be much different than selling to a vertical market. After all, all large corporations are really a collection of many vertical niches. For instance, every large company has financial, marketing, and human resources departments to name a few.
Currently, there is a tremendous amount of faxing of documents in these companies. Eventually, scanners may actually replace fax machines. Thus, documents can be exchanged across a network in the form of images or e-mail. While this is a huge potential market, VARs may not be able to make this pitch for a couple of years. The scanning industry is slightly ahead of its customers in this case. However, VARs need to be ready to react when customers are ready to adopt. And, VARs need to be ready to sell the right solution.
Joel Port is the national sales manager at Panasonic Document Imaging Company (Secaucus, NJ). He can be reached at (201) 392-6163.