I've been in down the street office equipment sales for 33 years. Over that time I've seen and heard it all from prospects who are considering a new vendor or manufacturer.
Many times... and by the way I just had a prospect email me today that price only is the driving factor as to who they will buy from. I sent them back an email declining to offer a proposal. I work for a well respected dealer with an excellent support team and I won't compete with many of the fly by night dealerships that are out their.
Having one of my customers wait two to three days for service, a week for parts or not getting a return call is not an option!
Please consider the below points as more of an educational process to choose the right vendor for your needs.
Know your present and future needs: Since most MFP/Copiers are leased, you need to have a handle on your present and future needs. Will I need Network faxing or walk-up faxing, scan documents to email, scan to folder, walk up authentication, TWAIN scanning, Apple Air Print, envelopes, scan2cloud, scan2folders to a network drive, paper sizes needed to print, scan, fax or copy, color scan, color copy, color print?
Know what your existing costs are: How can you make a decision on a new product or service if you don't know your existing costs. Consider the cost of the current lease if any, cost of current print devices, costs for supplies, cost for service, cost for maintenance agreement, down time along with how many sheets of paper you have used for printing or copying in a week, month or year.
Interview your vendor: Ask for references!!! Then call those references! Ask how long the rep has been with the firm, ask how long they have been in business, ask about third party software they support.
Perform a credit check on them. This makes a lot of sense, keep in mind all you see is the sales person. Performing a credit check can you tell if the company is buried deep in debt, has trouble paying their creditors, or worse yet, their supplier constantly puts them on credit hold for parts and supplies).
Its not just about printing, copying, scanning and faxing anymore. Today there are many third party software solutions that will integrate with your mfp to simplify or increase productivity. There are many dealers that are well educated with these solutions and just about as many who are not. You need to find the well educated dealers.
What is the Cost: When leasing, ask about the end of lease options. What is best for you $1.00 purchase option or Fair Market Value. Ask about hidden charges such as documentation fees, insurance, ask about the renewal clause, the interest rate (only on a finance lease $1.00 lease) end of lease options and return fees. A rep that is experienced can help you navigate the many pit falls of leasing. If I had to bet, I would take the bet that more than 65% of all sales people do not know the t's & c's of the lease that they are putting in front of you.
Ask your rep "How Can We Save Money" or "How Can We Reduce our Consumption of Paper", without losing productivity: Any rep worth their weight in salt will be able to structure a cost savings proposal for you. However, you need to ask.
Understand that while price is important, you need to focus on your core business. Haggling over .002 cents per page for black based on a volume of 20,000 pages per month equals $40 per month, then ask yourself is the service and support that this company brings to the table worth $1.81 a day more? I always revert to this when I'm asked to reduce my service pricing,"the thought of a cheap price is long forgotten after poor service".
Ask for quotes on three different systems from your current vendor (if you are not happy with the service and support of the current vendor then it's time to consider others) that he or she thinks would meet your needs. Your time is money, do you really have the time to meet with three different vendors and then muddle through the pro's and cons of each device and company? If you are getting good service and support with the your existing vendor why change?
Embrace new technology, and don't be ignorant to change. Many progressive companies embrace technology to increase productivity and lower their costs. Ask your rep to give you a demonstration of the new products and services that will allow you to create searchable .pdf's, scan directly to a folder on your service from the copier/mfp. What's better than seeing the system perform in your office?