Greig Millar, General Manager for Sales at Brother UK, talks to PrintIT Reseller about the company’s upgraded partner programme, which has been designed to help its resellers boost margins and secure long-term contracts with customers
Brother UK is a 100 per cent channelcentric business. Its channel is spilt into three areas – the biggest of which is resellers. Here, the customer base sits between 2,500 – 3,000 partners, a number that according to Millar ﬂuctuates depending on the amount of interaction and volume of business conducted. The company also has around 33 strategic partners comprising SIs, VARs and solution providers, and the third sector is its retail, contract stationer and online reseller partners.
“The majority of our channel fall under our partner programme with a few exceptions that we support in a different way,” Millar explained.
The legacy partner programme operated on a tiered model, with each level structured to support resellers in driving sales of printers or solutions. However with both Brother and its channel partners looking to tap into the growing services and solutions market, in particular in managed print, it was clear that some changes needed to be made to support that, in particular in simplifying and maximising the rebate earning potential.
“Historically resellers would earn a tiered rebate dependent on the device sold – so a high-end model would attract a higher reward than an entry-level basis printer for example, however what it didn’t do is encourage the reseller to push up and look at solutions,” Millar said.
He added: “The theory was sound, but in a changing marketplace, we have to continuously review how we can best support our partners and we recognised that we could make it easier for them to manage and maintain their earnings.”
Increased earning potential
Under the new programme, partners will be ranked at either Reseller, Gold or Platinum level, with each tier offering a tailored set of benefts and varying levels of rebate earning potential.
“One of the key changes is the way we have restructured the rebate model, a move designed to give our partners more confdence in how they calculate their earnings,” Millar said. Under the new scheme, the rebate earning potential is three-tiered – Maintain, Enhance and Accelerate.
“Targets are set on a quarterly basis and if partners achieve the same level as the same quarter the previous year, then they will receive a ﬂat rebate – we call this Maintain. We will also set a ‘stretch’ (Enhance) target, which if hit will deliver an additional percentage rebate on top, and for our Platinum partners, there’s also a third level – Accelerate – where incremental rebates will be paid on sales of selected SKUs and key products. We will also break down all sales and supply each partner with a report that clearly summarises the revenues earned each quarter,” he explained.
The new partner programme is designed to help strengthen and grow channel partners’ business and includes sales and marketing support, product promotions, partner certifcation, incentive schemes and rewards, an improved and easier to manage rebate scheme, as well as additional rewards for selling MPS. Partners can access these tools and benefits through the online portal – BrotherZone.
“Our partners receive tailored levels of support from Brother from dedicated account management (or telephone account management); access to channel sales execs, marketing managers, public sector and commercial sales teams; a UK call centre, online support as well as our award-winning recycling facility. The BrotherZone portal also affords access to promotions, marketing assets and a library of product information and training,” Millar explained, adding: “Now, with the new programme we’ve created two certified partner levels Gold and Platinum.”
Gold and Platinum
To qualify for Gold status, some of the things partners have to demonstrate include a positive/engaged relationship, original supplies focus and the ability to sell MPS. Under the new programme, Gold partners will receive a range of benefts to help increase sales and marketing opportunities including:
Maintain and Enhance rebates
Access to BrotherZone partner portal for sales and marketing support
Quarterly business review
Vertical marketing alignment
Access to marketing funding (dependent on qualifying criteria)
Platinum partners will typically have signed up to the Brother MPS programme, be a Brother-frst recommender, be strong in key verticals – retail, education, healthcare, MOD, legal and pharmacy; have a sales focus on key products, agree a minimum turnover commitment, focus on original supplies and ensure all trade and end-user promotions are listed.
In addition to the Gold partner benefits, Platinum partners will also receive the Accelerate rebate, deal registration, marketing funds and a collaborative marketing plan, access to incentives and EOL deals, media co-brand opportunities, support at events/focus days, BrotherZone incentives and joint PR and case study support, to name a few.
“By creating the two levels, we’re looking to support and incentivise our Gold partners to move up to Platinum,” Millar said.
Moving into MPS
To achieve Platinum status, partners will have to demonstrate their ability and commitment to delivering managed print services.
“We want to open up MPS to more channel partners and we’re looking to traditional offce equipment resellers and retailers as well as our SI and VAR channel to achieve that,” Millar said. Brother has expanded the Basic MPS model it frst introduced a few years back, creating a comprehensive, simple, ﬂexible, service that encompasses basic and advanced offers and which cater to the SMB and public sectors, as well as the corporate end of the market.
“With our MPS, we are providing our partners with an uncomplicated way to create customer stickiness and generate recurrent revenue streams by delivering tailored solutions and services specific to each customers’ needs,” he added. He continued: “This was one of the key drivers for change. The legacy partner programme was centred around the product mix, now partners who stick to that model will still enjoy strong earning potential but for those looking to solutions and to lock customers in with an MPS contract, we’re offering higher levels of support and rebate.”
Millar argues that in today’s climate, selling solutions is key to survival. “It’s not just about selling on price, resellers are looking to retain customers and secure recurring revenues – a good way to achieve that is to sell MPS or to sell up the range to build customer loyalty.
“Many resellers sell a printer and then don’t see any income from consumables – by talking to customers about cloudbased MPS, they can ensure they get that ongoing supplies revenue,” he said.
“Brother is about four years into the managed print market and Millar says that customers are now re-signing new contracts as they’ve had a good experience. “Today people are used to paying for subscription-based services at a personal level – whether it’s Netﬂix or Amazon Prime. We’re in that world now, and the days of over-complicated, over-priced print contracts are behind us. MPS contracts are transparent and the expectation from end-users is that their printers should be under some sort of managed agreement on a monthly subscription model.”
He continued: “There’s currently great opportunities for vendors and partners to sell solutions, with customers increasingly looking to innovate, increase productivity and boost workforce effciency through IT, all while keeping costs down.”
Reaping the reward
Many of Brother’s larger resellers are already reaping the reward of a solutionsled approach. “We’ve had a number of partners successfully winning new business within national and enterprise accounts because they are leading with a managed solution. We’re also starting to see SIs move into the world of print, using MPS to get enterprises on the books and then using that as an in-road to deliver more traditional services,” Millar explained.
In conclusion Millar said: “Our objective is to support all our channel partners in enjoying greater success within the managed print arena. Our partner programme helps Brother and our partners to work side by side in developing integrated solutions that enable us to help customers achieve their goals.”