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Lexmark ‘Betting The Farm On The Channel’ With New Devices For SMBs

‘The growth goals for our company are squarely on the shoulders of the channel,’ Sammy Kinlaw, vice president of worldwide channel and OEM sales tells CRN. ‘We’ve doubled where we can sell into versus last year. Its big. For our company, for any company. What company doubles their addressable market in a year?’

Building on the success of its GO Line series of products aimed at small work groups and micro SMB end-users, Lexmark today is hitting those customers with a splash of color in the form of printer and MFP devices that are built for the channel.

“What we say is, ‘It’s built like a tank, but has the weight of a ballerina,’ “ Sammy Kinlaw, vice president of worldwide channel and OEM sales, told CRN. “It’s designed for small work groups. Could be a small bank office. Could be a small anything. Size and weight are important. It’s 30-percent lighter than our comparable product that we had previously and its 50-percent smaller.”

Its part of the company’s larger strategy of doubling its total addressable market by “betting the farm on the channel,” Kinlaw said. The channel guru has been with the Lexington, Ky.-based printer manufacture for a year and a half and in that time he has turned the company’s sales focus from mid-sized to enterprise level customers, to the broader field of small workgroup and SMB end users. The strategy paid off last year, he said with near double digit growth in North America, high double-digit growth in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

[RELATED: Sammy Kinlaw On Lexmark’s New Printers And How His Channel Vision Is Now A Reality]

“The growth goals for our company are squarely on the shoulders of the channel,” Kinlaw said. “To reach the goals of revenue and units, we couldn’t expand within that prior addressable market quickly enough. So the company recognized two years ago, we had to grow in smaller footprint, faster, more aggressively priced product in mono, color, and color MFP, that allowed us to double our addressable market. So the new product line, 2 Series, 3 Series color. We’ve doubled where we can sell into versus last year. Its big. For our company, for any company. What company doubles their addressable market in a year?”

Lexmark estimates that the market in small workgroup and micro-SMB is in the range of 10 million-units.

Jeff Bryant, vice president of operations at Dallas-based Cesco Inc., a solution provider and Lexmark reseller, said the GO Line has, as promised, been popular with small workgroups, which is a different market for his business. He said, traditionally, he works with mid-sized companies, however because of the GO Line, the company has taken on sales people, armed them with SMB leads, and orders to sell.

“We’re hiring some young people, new to the business, putting them on the street, paying for lead services, paying for some lists of customers, and going after SMB business with all these devices,” he said. “I welcome it. It gives us more products in that small business portfolio … My goal is for those guys to be out there selling these GO Line products on a regular basis, and then also uncover some larger machines for us.”

For Cesco, the jury is still out on whether the GO Line is going to be a game changer, but in addition to expanding his own market regionally, he said the devices are priced competitively with rivals, and have hit a sweet spot, even with larger customers.

“I do think there is some upside in that we can get into that initial hardware cost battle, on a mid-sized, desktop MFP,” he said. “I sold some myself to one of my oil and gas customers. They needed four or five black and white MFPs, they wanted a wireless option for some guys who travel and had home offices. That’s what we sold them, GO Line black and white MFPs.”

He said if the new color offerings perform the same as the 2 Series, he can see them doing well with those smaller customers and acting as bait for larger deals down the road.

“I think it’s going to be successful. I think it’s going to help us expand our market. I think it’s going to help us maybe keep some of our clients that need home office, small office stuff also from going to Staples or CDW,” Bryant said. “Lexmark has a couple of products in the A4 larger multi-function space that are really strong products that, when we can get people to consider them, are big wins for us. I think with more brand awareness, we can sell more of those based on getting in with the GO Line.”

Five of the new color devices are built just for small business, but with speeds and feeds that match or exceed their competition, according to documents obtained by CRN. Each of the new devices offer the same security offerings as Lexmark’s most expensive printer, which the company calls its “full spectrum,” “no asterisks” security. Lexmark earned the BLI PaceSetter awards for Document Imaging Security for 2017-2018.

Two Lexmark cloud products will be added post launch, via a firmware update, Cloud Connector – access to Google Drive and Dropbox -- is coming for the fall; and Cloud Fleet Management – which allows for remote restart, usage monitoring, ink levels, and app updates -- is expected by the beginning of next year.

The 3 Series also comes standard with robust, steel-frame construction, and a dual core processor that is faster than anything the competition is offering.

“This was designed for business,” said Ron Wells, Portfolio Manager, Worldwide Marketing. “It’s a dual-core, 1Ghz processor. Which is overkill now, but it won’t be 10 years from now.”

The new Lexmark GO Line devices include two new color single-function printers, the C3224dw and C3326dw; three new color multi-function devices (MFPs), the MC3224dwe, MC3224adwe and MC3326adwe; and a new monochrome MFP, the MB2236adwe.

Wi-Fi comes standard on each, along with enhanced connectivity and support for mobile users, a one-piece toner cartridge that combines imaging components with Unison toner, making them easily removable and recyclable through the company’s Cartridge Collection program.

The color devices print up to 24 or 26 color pages per minute, while the mono device features print speeds of up to 36 pages per minute. The multi-function products feature a 2.8” touchscreen.

Kinlaw said he added 40-percent more reps covering VAR, which he said is the biggest investment the company has made in the channel. He said he has also partnered closely with distributors to get them to reach the resellers that he can’t.

“If you are partnering with Lexmark, you have a path to market that is clearly defined, with products intended for the SMB and mid-market marketplace,” Kinlaw said. “You’re not dealing with competition from an e-tail type community … our primary path to market is the SMB and mid-market VAR, through distribution, with the ultimate goal of having a channel that is independently selling, that is empowered and incented, all the right ways. This is the perfect box for them.”

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