Lexmark Preps Managed Services Play For Printers

The service is part of a general effort under way at Lexmark to help solution providers be profitable and more competitive against volume resellers, Lexmark executives said.

"The solution providers that have been successful are the ones that have figured out how to sell against the volume channel," said Scott Dunsire, vice president of business channels at Lexmark, Lexington, Ky. "I don't think solution providers will stay in business if they are just selling on price."

Rory Sanchez, president of SLPowers, a West Palm Beach, Fla., solution provider, said Lexmark's success will depend on how innovative it is with its forthcoming managed services.

Sanchez, who covers printer maintenance under his own managed services business, said he would like to see Lexmark give solution providers the ability to place a printer at a customer site at no initial charge to the customer and then charge per-copy usage fees. Under this model, the solution provider and Lexmark would receive a percentage of the revenue generated through those fees.

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"That would be cool," said Sanchez. "Copier machine companies have been doing this for years, giving the copier away essentially for free and then charging per copy."

Lexmark said it believes services are the key differentiator for its channel partners, and over the past year it has increased overall spending on channel support activities by 75 percent. Aside from the services play, that spending has included new ISV initiatives to help solution providers craft solutions, Lexmark executives said.

"We continue to pour investment into the channel," said John Linton, vice president for the solution provider channel at Lexmark. "It's the single biggest investment we've made in the North American geography."

By building out a managed service, Lexmark is hoping it can help more solution providers get into the game while avoiding having to make all the capital investments to create the service, he said.

Other recent channel investments have included the addition of more sales and marketing people in the channel to create a direct-touch model under which its salespeople will work directly with the salespeople representing Lexmark solution providers.

"You have to have relationships with the salespeople of the solution provider," Dunsire said.

STEVEN BURKE contributed to this story.