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konica minolta business solutions case study

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Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A
Professional Approach to Selling (A)
Prabakar Kothandaraman, William Paterson University
Sudha Mani, William Paterson University
William J. Healy, William Paterson University
ust a couple of weeks after joining Konica Minolta Business Solutions (KMBS),
Bill Swanson had a meeting with Peter Daniel, branch manager for northern New
Jersey, which left him more than a little shaken. Swanson had just recently completed his two-week orientation and sales training in Chicago, and he felt he had
gained an excellent understanding of the KMBS sales process and products. Additionally, he left the training feeling more confident than ever in his decision to join KMBS.
During the interview process, he’d been told that his selling skills were impressive and
that with hard work, he could soon get at least some part of a territory to call his own.
He knew that Peter Daniel ran one of the most successful branches in the region, so he
understood that he was positioned well for future success.
But their meeting on Thursday, January 3 suggested that the future was now. Daniel
explained that some unexpected staff movement meant Swanson needed to cut his
training short and hit the ground running. Specifically, Swanson would need to cover
both Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey, starting January 4, 2013. Paul Harris,
the sales rep who had been handling these counties, had left the company abruptly,
and Swanson would need to step in until alternate arrangements could be made. Daniel
made the stakes clear: “Remember! This is a great opportunity for someone who has
just graduated; if you do well, you’ll be recognized immediately. If you mess it up, it
would still count as a first impression.” Daniel promised him full support and encouraged him to talk to anyone, including Daniel himself, if Swanson needed information
about the company, customer base, competition, or other details.
Just before the meeting ended, Daniel slid a piece of paper across his desk to
Swanson. On it, Daniel had scribbled the words, “New York Consulting Group
(NYCG).”1 He casually noted, “I was planning to ask Harris to try and see if we could
win this account from competition; see what you can do.” Swanson knew what that
meant: “This was no casual mention,” he thought. “NYCG is my test. Passing this test
will cement my future at KMBS.”
Copyright © 2016 by the Case Research Journal and by Prabakar Kothandaraman, Sudha Mani, and William
J. Healy. All rights reserved by the authors and NACRA. This case was written by Prabakar Kothandaraman,
professor of professional sales, Sudha Mani, assistant professor of professional sales, and William J. Healy,
professor of professional sales at William Paterson University to stimulate class discussion rather than to
illustrate effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors thank Konica Minolta
Business Solutions for written permission to use this case and the editor, associate editor for marketing
and health care, and the reviewers of the Case Research Journal for their helpful comments on the draft.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A Professional Approach to Selling
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
The Print and Copy Industry
Xerography is a dry photocopying technique, invented by Chester Carlson in 1938 in
Queens, New York. The first commercial copier, the Xerox 914, entered the market
in 1959.2 Three companies—Xerox, Kodak, and IBM—dominated the copier market
in the early 1970s, but Japanese manufacturers including Canon, Minolta, and Ricoh
entered the U.S. market in the mid-1970s.3 Since that time, the market had evolved
In particular, the emergence of multifunctional peripherals (MFPs), which combined copy, print, scan, and fax functions, largely remade the industry. By combining
the functionalities of printing and photocopying, MFPs appealed to a wide audience from the moment they entered the field in the late 1990s. In turn, players from
both traditional photocopier (e.g., Xerox) and printing (e.g., HP) industries sought
to compete in this space. Growth came from companies that aimed to support the
complete business process, rather than dedicated, paper-based output devices. Cost
saving opportunities also drove MFP growth significantly, while sales relationships further encouraged its adoption.4 Sales representatives learned to build trust and provide
extensive customer support to improve user experiences.
The market was not without controversy, however. For example, starting in 2002,
all photocopiers and MFPs began to include hard disk drives; therefore, the documents
duplicated using these copiers were retained in their hard drives. A televised report by
CBS in 2010 cautioned businesses and consumers about “Digital Copiers Loaded with
Secrets.”5 The threat shook finance, banking, and other personal service industries, in
which service providers faced the real threat that they could not meet their commitments to protect their own clients’ privacy and confidentiality.
In 2009, a U.S. International Trade Commission Report6 suggested classifying
MFPs as either printer-centric or photocopying-centric. Printer-centric MFPs usually
catered to low-volume output and came to be known popularly as A4, identifying
them by the A4 size paper (8½˝ × 11˝) that is commonly used in business documentation. With origins in photocopiers, A3 MFPs instead could accommodate bigger (11˝
× 17˝), tabloid-sized paper. In addition, these A3 MFPs offered greater ability to handle substantial volume and speed and could provide black-and-white or color printing.
Color steadily grew to overtake black-and-white machines, as sales of KMBS’s A3
color MFPs indicated (See Exhibit A-1).
Case Research Journal • Volume 36 • Issue 1 • Winter 2016
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
Index - Sales in Units
Exhibit A-1: U.S. Sales of KMBS A3 MFPs
* Base index: FY2010 = 100
Source: KMBS 2013 Annual Report.
Taking sales of color and black-and-white MFPs together, Canon led the U.S. market with a 28.9 percent share, followed by KMBS with 19.7 percent. Ricoh finished
third, with 12.8 percent of the market. Color MFPs accounted for 42 percent of A3
sales, and the rest were black-and-white machines. By 2012, the A3 MFP segment was
growing at 10 percent (see Exhibit A-2). And, in the United States, KMBS enjoyed
a 20 percent share, making it the third largest player in this growing segment (see
Exhibit A-3).
Exhibit A-2: KMBS Projections for U.S. A3 MFP Market
Color ra4o
Per cent of Color
Market Size in Thousands of Units
Source: Printers and copiers market grows 7 percent: Gartner. (2012, September 21). Press Trust of
India. Retrieved May 28, 2015, from http://gadgets.ndtv.com/laptops/news/printers-and-copiers-marketgrows-7-percent-gartner-270460.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A Professional Approach to Selling
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
Exhibit A-3: A3 Color MFP Market Share
Source: KMBS 2013 Annual Report.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions, USA, Inc. (KMBS) was part of Konica Minolta
Inc., a world leader in providing print and copy services to corporations of all sizes.
Globally, it operated in 41 countries and employed about 41,800 people. Its 2012
global revenues were US$7.44 billion (or ¥767,879 million; ¥100 = $$0.97),7 which
represented an increase of 1.3 percent over its 2011 sales.8 Its net income declined by
21.1 percent during that period though, to $198.1 million. Its business lines covered
the entire gamut of printing and copying using MFPs and other equipment associated
with imaging in a variety of industries. Konica Minolta, Inc., also supplied materials
required for printing and imaging, such as special purpose film.
The origins of the company came from two branches. In 1873, Konica’s Japanese
founder Rokusaburo Sugiura began selling photographic and lithographic equipment in Tokyo, Japan.9 After three decades of operations, his company introduced
Japan’s first brand name camera, the Cherry Handheld. Separately, the forerunner of
the Minolta Corporation, the Japan Germany Photo Company, was incorporated in
1928 to manufacture cameras. Over the years, these two start-ups blossomed into the
Konica Corporation and the Minolta Corporation. They both expanded their product
ranges and achieved many firsts in the industry, including Sakura Color Film and the
world’s first 35 mm autofocus compact camera. Konica established its first U.S. office
in 1956 in Philadelphia, before moving its headquarters to Ramsey, New Jersey.
Eventually, the companies merged in 2003 to form the Konica Minolta Holdings, Inc. In 2004, Konica Minolta introduced its “bizhub” office equipment brand
Case Research Journal • Volume 36 • Issue 1 • Winter 2016
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
and released its first high-speed digital color MFP, the bizhub PRO C6500. By 2006,
Konica ceased selling cameras in the United States and began to focus solely on business and print solutions. Thus by 2012, it organized its business into four groups:
Business Solutions, Medical Imaging, Measuring Instruments, and Planetarium (see
http://konicaminolta.us/ for details). In 2013, the company name changed to Konica
Minolta, Inc., described on its website as follows:10
Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta) is a leader in
advanced document management technologies, application solutions, and IT Services
from the desktop to the print shop. The company is focused on delivering complete
solutions that include the manufacturing, servicing and sales of office systems, digital
presses, production print systems, printers, vertical application solutions, and related
services and supplies.
The Business Solutions division maintained a range of products under the bizhub
umbrella brand, which it grouped into three categories: office systems, print production, and printers. The office systems offered printing, copying, and scanning functions,
with simple on-screen controls, in the form of color multifunction, black-and-white
multifunction, or compact multifunction machines.11 These office system products
targeted small, medium, and large businesses and were built to handle continuous,
heavy print loads. Print production products offered “revolutionary color image, ultrahigh speed B&W output, and pro-quality finishing.”12 In addition, the bizhub brand
appeared on all-in-one and single-function printers in both desktop and network versions. Digital heavy-duty color and black-and-white presses formed the bedrock of
print production; standalone business and home-office printers with advanced features
came under the “printer” heading.13 The tag line for this category promised, “From
Desktop to Print Shop.” Furthermore, KMBS sold wide-format printers and scanners
under the KIP brand name.
KMBS offered a number of services that enabled it to offer end-to-end printing
solutions. Its Optimized Print Services combined consulting, hardware, software integration, and services as seamless solutions for clients. These clients primarily sought
turnkey solutions, rather than having to hire individual consultants to design and
execute their varied print solutions. Among its staff, KMBS employed solution design
specialists who studied the needs of potential clients closely and recommended suitable, configured solutions from the KMBS range of products. It also recognized that
companies needed to integrate their print solutions with software, so KMBS brought
in IT specialists to consult and address connectivity with the clients’ own IT professionals. By supporting applications, such as cost accounting, data conversion, and
security, KMBS also could integrate these services into the total solutions offered to
clients. Over the years, KMBS had invested extensively in new manufacturing and
green technology, working toward greater sustainability. In the United States, KMBS
had achieved a large customer base in healthcare, education, and legal sectors; it also
supplied printing solutions to small and large banks.
As a new hire, Bill Swanson had learned most of this information during the orientation program. He also had spent much of his spare time during the training pouring
over the KMBS website and brochures. He knew that each salesperson in the company had a “pitch book,” designed to meet his or her informational and marketing
needs while calling on potential clients. Swanson knew he would have to come up
with his own pitch book quickly. Although he was glad to have a goal, Swanson also
was nervous. “I expected that I’d be asked to make cold calls during my first few days
Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A Professional Approach to Selling
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
at KMBS,” he thought. “Instead, I have a strategic prospect. I need to find as much
information about NYCG as I can, as fast as I can!”
A global accounting and consulting firm, registered in Delaware and headquartered in
Hartford, Connecticut, New York Consulting Group (NYCG) employed more than
97,500 people around the world. The international arm was incorporated in Delhi,
India, and operated in nearly 100 countries. In 2012, NYCG’s global revenues were
$12.2 billion. The firm’s annual growth, in dollar terms, was a healthy 6 percent, and it
enjoyed an impeccable reputation in the marketplace. Partners regularly provided opinions on proposed tax legislation to U.S. and global governments. Its clients included
leading business corporations, non-profit organizations, and sovereign governments.
According to NYCG, its clients looked to it for a consistent standard of service, based
on professional expertise, industry insight, and local knowledge. Globally, NYCG was
organized along the countries served, industry verticals, and the professional fields of
audit, tax, and advisory.
In the United States NYCG employed nearly 27,000 people and operated out of
ninety-two field offices in major cities (Exhibit A-4). The consulting firm’s major operations were located in Wayne, New Jersey. In 2012, its revenue in the United States
was $4.9 billion (Exhibit A-5). Its mission was to turn knowledge into value, for the
benefit of its clients. Although an accounting and audit firm, NYCG’s primary focus
since the turn of the century had been on providing value to clients using NYCG’s
proprietary knowledge, which resided in its employees and their collective experiences.
In its pursuit to add value for clients, NYCG constantly was striving to maintain
the highest levels of public trust, integrity, and transparency. Along with its emphasis
on delivering high quality professional services, NYCG publicly committed itself to
working with clients and other global organizations on green initiatives that focused
on eco-friendliness and sustainability. The 2012 annual report noted:
In the two years since launching our Global Green Initiative, NYCG-International
achieved a combined 19 percent reduction in net emissions per full-time equivalent
employee. We estimate the cumulative emission savings to be equal to removing 55,000
cars from the road for one year. The leadership of NYCG International is seeking an
additional 10 percent reduction by 2016.
Case Research Journal • Volume 36 • Issue 1 • Winter 2016
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
Exhibit A-4: NYCG Employees, United States
Professional Staff
Administra:ve staff
Source: NYCG 2013 Annual Report.
Exhibit A-5: NYCG Revenue, United States (in billions)
Source: NYCG 2013 Annual Report.
Printing and Copying at NYCG
In 2010, U.S. corporations still stored most of their information on paper. Concerns
over hacking and the reliability of electronic storage had slowed the adoption of socalled paperless offices. Most people also preferred paper reports and statements, for
their convenience benefits. An online survey found that 82 percent of Americans preferred paper statements, which seemed more official and trustworthy.14 In the same
survey, 78 percent of the 600 people interviewed said they preferred paper over electronic reports because they considered paper more “confidential.” Finally, 77 percent
asserted that electronic reports could be altered without their knowledge, making them
less trustworthy. Reflecting this trend, NYCG was a massive consumer of printing and
Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A Professional Approach to Selling
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
copying services, as it constantly sought to create new knowledge. Furthermore, its
commitment to confidentiality and customer service meant that it needed a large,
in-house printing operation that would meet the needs of its sizable professional staff
and clients.
Daniel’s History with NYCG’s Print and Copying Solution Purchases
Prior to joining KMBS, Peter Daniel worked at Canon for nearly fifteen years. Since
his early days at Canon, Daniel had been thinking about the NYCG account, which
was both substantial and prestigious. In 2000, Xerox Corporation handled NYCG’s
printing and copying needs with an estimated deal size of $10–$20 million. Daniel, who was a senior account manager at that time, knew that the Xerox contract
would be up for renewal in 2001. Through constant follow-up with NYCG, he also
became aware of the variety of issues facing NYCG, so he negotiated to place fifty of
Canon’s machines in NYCG’s Virginia office on a trial basis. Three months into the
trial, Canon was invited to submit a proposal to meet all of NYCG’s needs. As Daniel
recalled the conversation, he was told to “conduct an analysis as to what the outcome
will be if we replaced every one of the Xerox machines with Canon products.”
At 10:00 a.m. on September 12, 2000, Daniel dropped off Canon’s proposal for
NYCG. By 4:00 p.m., NYCG called back to inform him that Canon had won its
business. Canon was to supply all of NYCG’s requirements, though Hewlett-Packard
(HP) managed to obtain orders for some low capacity black-and-white printers to be
installed in individual offices. It was rumored that HP, one of NYCG’s larger clients,
had convinced its client partners at NYCG to retain it as a print service supplier. However, Canon secured all the business at NYCG’s dedicated print shops. Daniel, who
joined the KMBS team in 2010, wanted the NYCG account again!
Thus, Swanson learned much of what was known about how Canon grabbed the
account from Xerox first-hand, from the person who managed the shift. But by 2013,
much might have changed at NYCG. Swanson believed he was starting with essentially
a clean slate. “I need a plan,” he reminded himself. “I really have to do my homework
on NYCG.” With this goal in mind, he began drafting a plan to gather information
about the prospect that he had been dealt in his first few days with KMBS.
1. Name of the client and some of the detailed numbers have been disguised to
protect the identity of the client.
2. “Xerox Innovation History.” (n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://
3. Boulton, W. (1995). “The Plain Paper Copier Industry.” Retrieved from http://
4. Kmetz, Keith, Alyson Frasco, and Sahaja Sarathy (2013), “IDC MarketScape:
U.S. Smart Multifunction Peripheral 2013 Vendor Assessment.”
5. Keteyian, A. (2010, April 19). “Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets.”
Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_
6. Torsekar, M., Reed, M., and Anderson, M. (2015, May). “Multifunction Products.” Retrieved from http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/ITS_3.pdf.
Case Research Journal • Volume 36 • Issue 1 • Winter 2016
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.
For the exclusive use of V. Ho, 2017.
7. “Historical Exchange Rates|OANDA.” (n.d.) Retrieved April 5, 2015, from
8. “March 2012 Consolidated Financial Results Highlight|KONICA MINOLTA.”
(n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://www.konicaminolta.com/
9. “Over a Century of Innovation.” (n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016, from
10. “Konica Minolta Company Information.” (n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016,
from http://kmbs.konicaminolta.us/wps/portal/web/home/about/company.
11. “Konica Minolta Multifunction Solutions.” (n.d.) Retrieved June 2, 2015, from
12. “Konica Minolta Login.” (n.d.) Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://kmbs.
13. “Konica Minolta Business Solutions.” (n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016, from
14. “TRU Market Research & Analysis.” (n.d.) Retrieved February 18, 2016, from
Konica Minolta Business Solutions: A Professional Approach to Selling
This document is authorized for use only by Vi Ho in Winning Strategies-1 taught by Ly-Huong Pham, University of California - Santa Cruz from May 2017 to October 2017.