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Lexmark has made the decision to bring all of its channel activities under one umbrella, launching the Connect global partner programme.
Bringing everything into a single programme should give the vendor more opportunities to reward and support partner growth.
There is a bit of historical context to Connect, starting with the move made by the printer vendor in 2017 to ramp up its focus on the SME market using the channel to deliver into that customer base.
The decision to launch the Connect partner programme has been made against that background, with the belief that this will strenghten the vendor's partners across both enterprise and SME customer bases.
"Lexmark is one of the pioneers in the enterprise area. For example, it was one of the first vendors to bring managed managed print services into the corporate and enterprise world, probably in the area of 15 to 20 years ago so. Lexmark's roots are very strong in providing print solutions and workflow solutions to corporate enterprise and public sector," said Thomas Valjak, vice president, EMEA channel sales at Lexmark.
"A couple of years ago Lexmark identified that for future growth going forward that there's also opportunity not only in corporate and enterprise but also in the SMB space, which research shows is slightly larger than the enterprise," he added.
Given that the firm is already making revenues through the channel the plan with Connect those volumes will increase.
"Lexmark continues to strengthen its commitment to drive business through the channel. It already plays a significant revenue part today, and it will further increase in the future," said Valjak.
"This worldwide programme provides an umbrella for all the channel engagement going forward. We connect the partners with Lexmark to drive the business forward in a mutual beneficial way," he added.
The programme has three main planks - to provide secure and reliable devices, giving resellers the chance to differentiate and to help partners deliver growth - and the firm will be working with distribution to swell its numbers.
“We furthermore want to intensify our work with Distribution Partners to attract more resellers specifically in the open market to our program,” said Valjak, “and overall we will co-invest more with partners across segments into telling their customers what great solutions they can offer, and reward growth accordingly.”
To help with differentiation Lexmark is sharing the knowledge it has gained in the enterprise market with customers.
"What we enable is giving the channel partners, access to the same cloud based infrastructure and tools that Lexmark uses," added Valjak "Extending the expertise that Lexmark has built up over the years in the enterprise space to the channel. Lexmark has accumulated a lot of insight in working with customers in industry verticals."
Martin Fairman, UK & Ireland managing director at Lexmark, said that it had seen more calls from partners for help cracking some vertical markets.
"We are seeing a lot more partners that are wanting education from manufacturers and support to help them establish themselves in verticals they already may be involved in, but also getting involved in new marketplaces as well, but where they don't have the expertise. The advantage is that we can call in people to either sit face to face and shoulder to shoulder with the partners," he said.
On the final plank of the programme Valjak said that the vendor would be providing a range of incentives, including promotional pricing, as well as more training and education.
The channel can also expect distribution to be given more MDF and tools to support partners and Lexmark is rolling out more of a structure programme for the volume market, underpinned by a specific product range GO Line.
"The structured volume channel programme is targeted to the open market, specifically in the context of b2b. That would be everybody who needs printing products for professional use that goes all the way from the self employed to the micro businesses," he said.