Increase Large Format Sales By Getting To Know Your Customers
A document imaging VAR makes sales of Tangent Imaging Systems equipment through his other job as a large format scanning business.
When Miller Blueprint, a reprographics company out of Austin, TX started shopping around for a new large-format scanning system, it chose a VAR who practices what he preaches. Michael Shaw, president of Central Digital Resources, in New York City, has an unusual advantage - he doesn't just sell Tangent large-format scanning equipment. He uses it too.
Shaw operates three New York City service bureaus: Central Digital Resources, Jamaica Blueprint and Central Blueprint. Twenty-four employees work in the reprographics shops, specializing in architectural engineering/construction, medical, legal, advertising and graphic arts communities. The family-run businesses, in operation since 1962, deal with digital acquisition, processing, storage and output - whether print or Web-based transmissions. Shaw installed one of the first Tangent large-format scanning systems in the early 90s. The solution gave Central Digital Resources the ability to transform large paper documents into various digital formats and save hard-copy storage space or incorporate them into other digital services like raster to vector conversion or project-managed Web sites.
Miller Blueprint needed the equipment for the same reasons Central Digital Resources purchased the Tangent system. Both saw a market nobody else was taking advantage of at the time. Robert Miller, Jr., vice president of Miller Blueprint, says installing the Tangent system was the next step. The company could not offer large format color reproductions - only black and white. Since 1920, the family-owned company has been reproducing with cameras, blueline machines and copy machines. Nowadays, Miller Blueprint has 65 employees at two offices in Austin. To keep up with their customer's demands, it was only natural to move to large-format color scanning.
Users Make Great Resellers
"Resellers don't normally use equipment other than to generate sales," Shaw explains. "We are constantly experimenting with the large-format scanner and finding new ways of doing things. That enhances our ability to sell the equipment."
This experimentation helped when it came to selling a system to Miller Blueprint. Some of the Austin-based company's employees had seen Shaw demonstrating the large-format system at related trade shows, and came all the way from Texas to New York City to see the equipment in action.
A typical system consists of a 44-inch sheet-feed, scanner; related software, installation and training all offered by Tangent, at a price of $60,000. The software has the capability to scan and process information, then tailor it to suit the needs of the customer.
Providing Color Solutions
"It was hard to have to tell our customers we could reproduce their work, but only in monochrome," says Shaw. "Our customer base had started to use color to make a point or a sale. We needed to be able to keep up. We were the ones selling color pencils and color plotters, so we had to look for a solution. It's almost like we created a monster and then had to satisfy its needs. It's ironic. But now, when customers say they have to have 24-inch x 36-inch color blueprint copies, we have the ability to say `No problem'."
According to Shaw, more time was spent at Miller Blueprint on training than installation. "At Central Digital Resources, we go from soup to nuts, and we do it in a very sequential, logical fashion," he explains. "In 30 minutes, I can have you operating this system. We really spent time on training Miller Blueprint how to integrate the system into its workflow and product mix and how to market it. Anybody can sell a car. But when it comes to digital, it's very hard to fake your way through it. Sales people need a high comfort level with this technology to sell efficiently."
"You make direct money through the scanning," Shaw explains, "and indirect sales through extra business, like mounting and laminating, that you generate from the customer." It's like going to a convenience store just to buy gas, and leaving the store with a full tank plus Twinkies and a drink. The system gives Miller the opportunity to sell more than copies.