PrintIT Reseller caught up with Carlo Longhi, Director and General Manager, Indirect channels UK and Ireland at Xerox
PrintIT Reseller (PITR): You’ve had a long career at Xerox, how did it start?
Carlo Longhi (CL): Xerox has always had a fantastic reputation for sales training, but when I joined as an office systems sales trainee I only intended to stay for a couple of years! I’ve now spent over half of my life working at Xerox. I have been with the company or 30 years and its focus on innovation and helping customers to improve the way they interact with documents is as strong today as it was on the day I joined. It’s also helped that 50 per cent of my time has been spent focused on our European channel partners and alliances, so I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly great organisations and entrepreneurs.
PITR: What does your current role involve?
CL: I head up the indirect channel business for Xerox UK, with a focus on driving further growth through channel expansion – either by doing more with existing partners or recruiting new ones. I have built strong relationships with a large variety of resellers and partners in the UK and across Europe throughout this time. Channels are central to Xerox’s growth strategy and will continue to be a key priority for the business. I enjoy my role because I am hugely passionate about supporting partners to grow with Xerox offerings.
PITR: How is Xerox driving growth in the SMB market?
CL: With 75 per cent of office technology sales to SMBs made through indirect channels, we’re heavily focused on expanding our partner programme – particularly in recruiting a wider range of IT resellers. In the last year, for example, we announced a variety of new partners in the UK including Arena Group, IT Document Solutions and Viking Office Systems, to help bolster our presence in the SMB market.
We’re also transforming the way we work with our existing channel, and have made substantial investments in our products and services to enable them to be more agile and compete better. ConnectKey is a great example of a product which can offer a variety of sizes, features and capabilities to match the specific needs of SMBs.
PITR: It’s been just over a year since you launched ConnectKey – how successful has it been?
CL: The ConnectKey product launch in April 2017 was the biggest in the company’s history. With it, Xerox set out to lead another workplace revolution through transformative technology – the range of 29 A3 and A4 ConnectKeyenabled printers and multifunction devices represent our answer to the ever changing office environment. With simple and secure on-the-go capabilities, cloud connectivity and access to productivity boosting features and apps, each device offers a smart workplace assistant that doesn’t just copy, scan or print, but also translates, shares, and creates electronic documents with just a few easy taps on the screen.
Not only has the ConnectKey range received fantastic feedback from our channel partners and vendors, but it has also been recognised as outstanding by the Buyers Lab (BLI). Xerox printers and multifunction devices earned more BLI wins than any other vendor at this year’s BLI awards, including the overall BLI 2018 Monochrome Printer & MFP Line of the Year Award, and the Outstanding MFP App Ecosystem award for the Xerox App Gallery.
The real testament to the success of ConnectKey, is that these products are continuing to gain substantial traction in the market and we are seeing significant unit growth in all channels as they transform how people work.
PITR: Which Xerox products are resonating most strongly with channel partners?
CL: Our ConnectKey products and managed document services resonate very strongly with our channel partners, as they allow customers to seamlessly transition from paper processes to digital workﬂows. These types of services have a significant impact on business and we’re able to prove this to our customers. Transitioning from paper to digital can reduce processing costs by up to 90 per cent, speed up turnaround times and free up office space by eliminating legacy file storage costs.
We’re also seeing great traction around the Iridesse production press, which is the only digital press on the market that can print metallic gold or silver dry ink, CMYK and clear dry ink in a single pass. Since launching in May, the product has sparked huge interest across our customers and partners so we expect this to continue to gain momentum throughout 2018 and beyond.
PITR: How important are channel partners to the business?
CL: Our channel partners are hugely important to us, and are central to our growth strategy. Built on strong foundations, we work hard with our existing partners to drive incremental performance while also focusing on effectively on-boarding our newly recruited partners to quickly get them up to speed with Xerox technology and services. As part of the relationship, our channel business managers spend a lot of their time working with partners to support their growth objectives.
Training is also key to our partnerships. We deliver ongoing training to our partners’ sales and technical teams, as well as providing support through our partner portal and support teams. We invest heavily in training because it not only builds the partner relationship, but it ensures the customer gets the best possible experience.
PITR: How does Xerox plan to expand its partner programme?
CL: Our channel expansion strategy focuses on two key areas – growing existing partners and recruiting new ones. We work with existing partners to identify areas of growth and implement investment and support programmes to help them deliver the incremental opportunity.
We also have a heavy focus on recruiting new partners to complement our existing network. The market is highly competitive, so we are focused on supporting our partners to retain, grow and add new customers with various programmes and incentives to help them drive balanced performance. Digital transformation is clearly a key opportunity and we continue to equip our partners with new offerings and training to enable this.
PITR: What are customers looking for when considering whether to buy a Xerox product?
CL: Customers are looking for quality, reliability and value for money. Additionally, they want innovation and capability to support them on their digital transformation journey, and products and solutions that will provide them with efficiencies, productivity and a competitive edge. The majority of SMB customers want a local supplier that can act as a trusted advisor and sustainable, long-term partner for their document technology and workﬂow requirements. This is where our partners come in to their own. They have the local presence, knowledge, capability and ﬂexibility, backed up with a fantastic array of Xerox offerings.
PITR: What are Xerox’s goals and strategy for channel growth in 2018 and beyond?
CL: We have reinforced our commitment to our channel partners in the last 12 months and made it clear that they are a key pillar of our growth strategy. We will continue to evolve our partner value proposition to enable this. We’re now enabling partners to build their own applications to increase sales and enter new markets and the Xerox ConnectKey products and MDS offerings will provide partners with the platform to solidify these opportunities.
PITR: What does the next five years hold for the channel?
CL: I believe hard copy will be around for a long time yet but there are huge opportunities for growth in managed document services, apps and solutions and of course, digital transformation.