- Player: Wayne Fyvie
- Company: Green Office
- Est: 1997
- Visit: greenoffice.co.za
This Is the Part Where You Pretend to Add Value. That’s the irreverent title Scott Adams gave to a Dilbert collection exploring his familiar theme of sloth and indifference in the workplace. ‘Adding value’ is a buzz phrase, but what does it really mean?
Many business owners have no idea how to articulate value to their clients. According to recent research by Forrester, executive buyers believe only 8% of the sales people they meet are focused on adding value to their business. Yet it’s often cited as a key differentiator.
Define value on the customer’s terms
One entrepreneur who is proving that customer value is more than just a cliché is Wayne Fyvie, director of Green Office, a managed print services (MPS) company that helps customers reduce costs by making printing more efficient and streamlined.
That’s what has resulted in between 20% and 30% year-on-year growth since he bought into the business in 1999, when it was a humble cartridge vendor. Today it’s a national business with 165 employees.
“Begin with intent,” says Fyvie. “We are in a competitive market, which means that everything we do is about our commitment to creating real value for the customer and to packaging your offering around that. Sometimes, you cannot add value, and you must have the integrity to say so.”
Fyvie has built Green Office’s business model on the concept of customer value, with a focus on thinking strategically and selling tactically.
“We go through a lengthy process with each customer to assess their print environment over the period of a month. In the MPS space that is important because what people have and what they think they have are two different things.”
Assessing customer needs
The process is enabled by software that collects all the data about the number of devices, who prints what and why, and where the inefficiencies lie. At the same time, his team talks to the customer to ensure that they understand their business strategy and how Green Office can play a role in helping them to align their print needs accordingly.
Only then will they present a business case. That’s what makes it possible to promise a lot, and deliver even more. In many instances, they are able to cut a business’s printing costs by 50%, by introducing control.
Keep them coming back for more
Much of the marketing of MPS is focused on cost reduction, but it’s not only about financial benefits, says Fyvie. “Once you have saved the customer some cash, there must be other reasons for them to stay with you. We sell a service, not a box. What helps us to retain customers is the sales team’s capacity to continue to analyse and understand changing requirements.”
It’s that ability that turns his team into order makers, rather than order takers. He stresses the roles of training and technology in helping his team to create value for customers. In print, this is a strong advantage because it’s an environment that is open to abuse.
“Our sales team are highly trained, and backed by a print solutions team who analyse data and are able to flag areas of concern, such as a sudden spike in printing or an increase in the number of consumables ordered. We find out reasons for each situation and help clients to address any issues. We make the data work for our customers, and that is how we retain them.”
Get inside your customer’s head
Stand in your customer’s shoes to deepen your understanding of what they need, and be prepared to learn with them. This can give you a better idea of what they will need in the future too.
“You need to get out of the way to comprehend what your customer needs, rather than focusing only on your own offering. If you allow yourself to hear, they will tell you what you need to know,” says Fyvie.
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He and his team are better at finding where the business pain lies than customers themselves, and to then offer services that tackle inefficiencies directly. They take their products to customers based on what they know about the business requirements.
For example, he and his team are analysing the printing processes of more than 80 companies right now; when that’s done, they will be able to use the information to turn these companies into customers by showing how to streamline their print needs.