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Lexmark’s Kinlaw: Industry Experts Now Available To Help Partners Pull Deals Over The Finish Line

‘Since Lexmark began we’ve established industry expertise and really gained years of data and experiences, and now we’ve acquired a whole collection of industry consultants who understand the ins and outs of what our industry needs and what are best practices,’ channel chief Sammy Kinlaw tells CRN.

Lexmark partners now have access to experts who work with the company’s biggest enterprise customers and have decades of experience inside industry verticals, said the company’s channel chief, Sammy Kinlaw.

“All those unique verticals where we have crazy expertise and high success rates, we’re going to give them the keys to the kingdom,” Kinlaw, vice president of worldwide channel and OEM sales at the Lexington, Ky., company, told CRN. “When it comes to closing the deal, we’re going to open up the windows so our experts are available to discuss strategies or even attend customer meetings with them. It’s holistic. Here’s the battle card. Here’s the training. Here’s collateral. Here’s a face-to-face industry expert who can go with you on a call.”

The new program, called Lexmark Industry Advantage, is something Kinlaw promised to deliver when he joined the company in early 2018.

“It’s really our focus on leveraging our vertical expertise,” he said. “Since Lexmark began we’ve established industry expertise and really gained years of data and experiences, and now we’ve acquired a whole collection of industry consultants who understand the ins and outs of what our industry needs and what are best practices.”

Kinlaw said those consultants work with enterprise customers but that there was a firewall separating those experts from the solution providers that could benefit from their experience in any number of verticals, including government, manufacturing, finance, retail and health care.

“We have expertise in verticals,” he said. “As I was looking at our channel organization when I joined, my first question was, ‘Where is the channel in this?’ ‘How do we give the channel this information?’ To be blunt, we didn’t.”

Sabrina Hall, Lexmark’s director of worldwide channel business development, helped bring the idea to life, creating vertical-specific content via the Lexmark Partner Net Portal where solution providers can access a collection of resources: battle cards, training, webinars and guidance to help them use the experience of company experts to pull sales across the finish line.

“The good thing about Lexmark is we have a lot of great people who are really willing to get together and work collaboratively to bring something to life,” Hall said. “A lot of it fell on the marketing organization, but it was pulling in the digital marketing and the field marketing team and the messaging team. … The team got together and had a vision. It was a strong effort by a lot of parties, but we pulled it off.”

Kinlaw said the channel is looking strong for Lexmark this year and partner feedback has been positive. While the priority has been to go deeper with the channel, he said he also needs to cast a wider net and recruit more solution providers.

“The fastest-growing segment of my market is the small VAR. That business for me in North America for small VARs is 30-plus percent year over year,” he said. “You know as well as I do, I’m in a declining market, so to find that type of growth in small partners just validates some of the coverage models and programs we’ve put into place.”

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