Panasonic is doubling down on digital convergence to help the company expand its channel business.
Panasonic System Communications Company of North America (PSCNA), which is the B2B technology division of Panasonic, has changed its channel strategy in the wake of its corporate restructuring last year, which integrated its mobile, telephony, security, audio/video, and office products like scanners, displays and projectors, in one organization.
That organization introduced its Panasonic Authorized Reseller Program one year ago to bring all the product lines together, and now the company is hitting the streets to work with partners on branching out into new solutions. "We considered 2012 a year of transition. We created a new program and rolled it out," said Bill Brennan, vice president of channel sales at PSCNA. "We look at this year in 2013 as execution. It's getting out in the field."
Brennan, who was recently promoted to his current role after previously serving as senior director of channel sales, assumed the duties of former channel chief Sheila O'Neil, who departed the company last month. Brennan said Panasonic has increased its channel field sales activity in recent months by meeting with customers and resellers at events like mobility forums and regional partner summits.
The partner blitz, Brennan said, is focused on three key areas: protection, support and leads. First, the vendor is increasing protection within its Authorized Reseller Program for partner transactions to make sure they don't lose deals. Second, Panasonic also has increased technical and sales support for partners around products and solutions with which they might not be familiar. And third, it is generating leads through the Panasonic marketing team for vendors' core partners in some of those new markets.
"We're working with our resellers, and we're listening to them," Brennan said. "We've really made a big investment in the channel to make sure we provide the proper support to our loyal resellers."
The overall strategy, Brennan said, is to help partners become more profitable by giving them additional vertical solutions to sell across the full portfolio of PSCNA's product lines. If a partner is delivering Toughbooks and Toughpads to a client, for example, there may be an opportunity to deliver display or unified communications solutions as well.
David Nemmers, owner and president of Midstate Security in Grand Rapids, Mich., is one such Panasonic partner that has branched out in new products. Historically focused on physical security and video surveillance, Nemmers' company is expanding into telephony and mobility solutions around Panasonic products.
"It's not only helpful to our bottom line -- it's a necessity," Nemmers said. "Technology is all becoming integrated: video, security, networking, mobility. We looked at this and said it's a great opportunity because at the end of the day, I can't just stay specialized in video or security with the way that everything is converging."
Brennan said the strategy, and the accompanying partner program, is still a work in progress but that partners are starting to get behind Panasonic's convergence vision.
"We have resellers that we know are going to stay in their comfort zones, and they'll still be considered our loyal partners and get all the support they need," Brennan said. "But there are great opportunities around convergence, and we want to help them open their eyes and see if these solutions fit within their business models."
PUBLISHED NOV. 22, 2013