Talking with Toshiba dealers at their conference last week, I heard the following:
▪ Color units represent between 50-70 percent of units installed. That is even more remarkable when you consider that Toshiba does not sell lo=end color single-function printers and that, as we have noted before, has not had, up until now, a full range of Toshiba-manufactured color copiers (The ones above 55ppm were relabeled Ricoh models.)
▪ Most buyers of color systems are upgrading from current black-and-white systems. Moreover, color devices are being placed through the whole range of customer types.
▪ While buyers are very insistent on demanding access controls and accounting software to regulate color use and cut down on unnecessary color printing, the truth is that, once the systems are installed, most customers don’t use these tools.
▪ Customers are getting more and more used to using copier-multifunctionals as fax machines.
▪ Dealers are well aware of the need to become “solutions providers,” that is, to accompany the sales of hardware with extensive software supports in such areas as document management, accounting, and workflow. Most have allocated technical staff and sales support to that end. But all report that it’s a tough sell, with long lead time and sometimes disappointing results. It’s one thing to get a single exec to sign off on a copier; it’s quite another to get a group of managers to agree on how and when documents will be stored digitally, how they will be protected and accessed. The sales cycle stretches out as the customers starts to redesign the way business is conducted. Yes, if carried out right, it can make you ever more indispensable to our customers, but it does involve a big investment in staffing and training with a long-term payback.