New Multi-Brand Dealers Flock to Xerox Due To Open Platform, Broad Portfolio, Active Recruitment

Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox said it wants to grow its U.S. print-focused partners by 25 percent as it aims to penetrate the small to midsized business (SMB) market. The plan? Convince partners who are representing multiple brands to consider Xerox's broad portfolio and new open platform.

"Our coverage for our brand isn't enough," Darren Cassidy, president of Xerox's U.S. channel unit, told CRN. "We are spending a lot more money driving demand into the channel."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Xerox To Roll Out Vertical Workflow Automation Apps To North American Partners]

Xerox plans to add 60 new multi-brand dealers to its base of roughly 185 to 190 dealers in the U.S. Xerox is only adding these dealers in places where it needs more share, Cassidy said, and is going to great lengths to ensure it doesn't oversaturate particular markets.

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The growth of the Xerox-exclusive agent base will be more modest, Cassidy said, with the company poised to add between 10 and 20 new agents to its existing stable of 300 agents in the United States. More significant growth is occurring within the headcount of Xerox's existing agents as they prepare to take on post-sales support responsibilities for the first time, he said.

Xerox is also training thousands of new resellers in its distribution-led volume channels and adding them to its existing base of 6,000 to 8,000 resellers, Cassidy said. These resellers are often holistic IT services firms who do not focus extensively on the print space.

Advanced Business Solutions currently leverages one set of vendors like OKI and Canon for multi-function printers and other equipment and a different set of vendors such as Intellinetics for document management software and services, according to President Adam Gregory.

But sourcing equipment and services from separate vendors made it hard for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based print dealer to provide end clients with the full picture, Gregory said.

"It's almost like double selling," Gregory told CRN. "We were looking for someone that could bring all of those parts together."

Gregory said he first met with a Xerox representative in March to learn more about the company. And when the largest product launch in the vendor's 110-year history came along later that month, Gregory said he was particularly impressed by the ability for partners to provide and customize their own applications on Xerox's open platform.

Other vendors had presented their version of open platforms to Advanced Business Solutions, but Gregory found they typically retained a tight grip over the platform and wouldn't allow apps from a non-partnering manufacturer to appear on the screen.

"When I think open platform, I think total customization," Gregory said. "That's what I want to provide our client."

That level of customization will make it possible for Advanced Business Solutions to come in and migrate the client to the Xerox ecosystem while, for instance, still using a client's existing scanning application or the cloud-based files they've already established.

Adding software and services to Advanced Business Solution's line card by becoming part of the Xerox partner community should drive revenue growth of 20 percent to 30 percent along with a 12 percent to 18 percent increase in profitability, Gregory said.

Advanced Business Solutions has a small number of large clients today, but Gregory said bringing on a vendor with the line card and name recognition of Xerox will allow the dealer to more successfully target large clients in North Florida and Atlanta's western suburbs.

Growing the software slice of the pie should boost margins, Gregory said, since, unlike servicing equipment, virtually all the support can be provided remotely without technicians on site.

"We will see higher margins because our expenses will be much lower," Gregory said.

Memphis Communication Corp. had been working with Toshiba for more than three decades when Xerox reached out and indicated they were looking to add more distribution in Tennessee, Mississippi and Northeast Arkansas, according to Shane Berry, co-chairman of the Memphis, Tenn.-based IT services provider.

"I was excited, because for 35 years, I've competed against them," Berry told CRN. "It's important to have the Xerox name."

MCC' competed against Xerox's direct sales reps for its higher-end customers, Berry said, and Xerox-exclusive agents for its middle-to-low end customers. But Xerox agents historically weren't allowed to provide post-sales support and service, which Berry said made it easier for him to win from business from midsized customers who wanted local support.

MCC will begin selling Xerox products in the Memphis, Nashville, and Jackson, Miss. areas in July, Berry said. The company's existing customers will benefit from gaining access to Xerox's light production offering and the company's managed print services program, which Berry said mitigates the risk to dealers since Xerox handles the management and support of aftermarket supplies themselves.

Berry said his company also plans to build apps on the Xerox platform thanks to the ease of development and the ubiquity of the app-friendly ConnectKey interface on all of Xerox's new devices. Specifically, MCC plans to build app that address workflow issues in the healthcare and financial verticals, as well as apps focused on the distribution industry in Memphis.

"I know Xerox was underserved in the markets I'm in, and I think that's going to be a big help for us," Berry said.

Standard Business Systems, meanwhile, has carried Toshiba's print products for more than two decades but still had gaps in its A4 and light production offerings, according to Vice President of Sales Tony Macia. Macia said the Little Rock, Ark.-based print dealer looked at several different ways to fill the gap, but was ultimately attracted by the breadth of Xerox's line card and industry-wide market share.

"There's not a lot of competition selling Xerox equipment in our marketplace," said Macia, noting that will allow Standard Business Systems to earn a higher margin.

Standard Business Systems had been a fairly inactive member of Xerox's reseller program since 2004, Macia said, but just last month went from a being a reseller to a Xerox document technology partner.

Macia said this reclassification allows his company to not only sell Xerox products but also service them. As a Xerox reseller, Macia said the vendor directly handled all post-sales service and support.

"We can now control every aspect of the customer experience," Macia said. "They are being 100 percent take care of by Standard Business Systems."

Macia plans in the coming weeks to go through the formal onboarding process and certify and train his service technicians around the Xerox offering suite. The training and certification process will be simplified by Xerox using interchangeable parts and accessories, Macia said, as well as one type of entire to cover its entire product line.

"It's less expensive for us to manage that type of a product family," Macia said.