Toshiba TEC encouraged the 85 partner businesses who attended its 2017 conference in Madrid on November 2 to LEAD (Learn, Engage, Act and Deliver)
125 guests, comprising representatives from 85 Toshiba MFP and barcode channel dealerships and a dozen strategic partners, joined the Toshiba TEC team in Madrid for the 2017 dealer conference.
Carl Day, Sales Director, Indirect Division, opened the conference, outlining the market dynamic and Toshiba’s channel performance for the first half 2017. He presented Infosource figures which show an almost 10 per cent decline on A3 MFPs compared to the same period last year, and in Ireland, the numbers are down by 25 per cent.
“Yet despite the overall market decline, Toshiba MFP sales are up by over 70 per cent,” he said. “Our UK channel is up by 24 per cent and in Ireland by a massive 48 per cent – the highest market position since 2013.”
Moving onto the barcode and label printing sector, Day confirmed it was good news here too. “This market is stable overall, we’ve enjoyed a 32 per cent increase in sales vs. last year and a 76 per cent increase in the mobile market. The UK accounts for 22 per cent of the European market. We’re seeing some good traction here,” he said, urging MFP dealers to look at this offer to secure a new revenue stream.
The need to change
Whilst sales performance within the channel is buoyant, Day argues that there is a need to change. He said that today’s buyer is 70 per cent into the buying journey before they engage with sales and that it’s no longer enough to rely on the old chestnut ‘we deliver great service’ to win new business.
He counselled that dealer principals should be thinking about how their sales teams can differentiate their business. “Do your sales staff demonstrate different behaviours?” he asked, adding that traditionally sales people act on negatives.
“Think about it, in sales, we typically create a problem or fear, and we wonder why buyers don’t trust us? We have to change that behaviour, learn to think and act differently, maybe even introduce some diversification into the team to change the culture and create the sales force of tomorrow,” he said.
Wellbeing at work
Another area Day covered in his address was wellbeing at work. He cited some research that pointed to the fact that the sales function is vulnerable to stress and highlighted the cost to UK businesses of poor mental health is £44 billion per year.
“People are your greatest asset, and we have to look at what we can do to protect that asset,” he said adding: “Sales professionals are under pressure, one in five sick days taken are down to stress. It’s time to take a step back and ask the question: ‘are we doing the best for our people?’ It’s your people that will affect your business’ bottom line.”
Next up and in keeping with the wellbeing at work theme was Professor Michael Banissy, a Professor in Human Brain Research with a specialism in cognitive neuroscience (the use of neuroscience and psychology to study the relationship between brain and behaviour).
In his keynote address he shared insight into what neuroscience is and why it is important at work. He also spoke about the impact of stress, sleep and wellbeing on the brain and behaviours, as well as providing some useful tips as to what employers can do to promote brain health in the workplace.
He emphasised the importance of looking after employees. “It’s in an employer’s best interest to look after employee stress. Stress can narrow focus, affect decision-making and precede depression – all reasons why you need to manage it,” he said.
Increase professionalism in sales
Other speakers included Denise Bryant, Managing Director of the Association of Professional Sales (APS), a not-for-profit organisation that advances and promotes excellence in the sales profession.
She spoke about the real need to promote the sales force as professional. “We have to increase professionalism in sales and set standards as to what best practice is,” she said. Bryant outlined the work that APS is doing to provide development, standards and leadership and how the organisation is working towards gaining Chartered Sales Professional status by 2020.
Toshiba TEC UK’s entire direct sales team recently achieved Professional Registration with the APS and Bryant confirmed that this accreditation has helped enhance sales behaviours and that the team has achieved better outcomes with their customers.
Joining her on stage was Louise Sutton from Consalia which has worked closely with Toshiba on its transformational education programme – Toshiba Masters – which provided channel partners with the first opportunity to offer academic recognition to their sales leaders and salespeople for their sales experience and excellence in a work environment.
The programme, which leads to an MSc in Leading Sales Transformation, is totally focused on sales roles and based on proven practices for performance improvement and real-world learning. Day and 12 dealer partners were the first to graduate from this industry-first initiative.
Sutton spoke about apprenticeships and in particular a new sales apprenticeship degree course that Consalia is developing with Middlesex University – in a bid to open up sales as a career choice for young people.
Marketing Director Jeremy Spencer closed the day providing a business update and talking through current market trends. He said that despite the stellar performance of Toshiba and its partners, the market continues to be challenging – unit placements are contracting, print volumes shrinking and prices continue to decline.
“Revenues clearly need to come from somewhere else,” he said, citing research undertaken by Keypoint Intelligence that identified solutions and services as key to growth.
“Businesses want to stay in business,” he said, adding that the top business priorities highlighted in the study – document security, digital transformation, mobile solutions and enhancing green credentials, were all relevant to and being addressed by what was discussed on the day.
He continued by saying that SMBs provide the largest opportunity in to sell office equipment and that suppliers can learn from adoption processes around digital transformation within enterprises and adapt these for SMBs. “SMBs need you. Only 21 per cent of the businesses polled with A3 devices had a document strategy,” he advised. “This is an opportunity for you to have a different conversation, and if you aren’t having it – someone else will.”
Spencer argued that service offerings can be adjusted for the SMB market and said that for vendors that rely on the dealer channel to serve the SMB market, it’s time to bring that channel up to speed in delivering appropriate solutions and services.
“Optional print will sustain print volume for a few years to come, but revenue streams are shifting rapidly to electronic forms and we all need to be ready for that,” he cautioned.
In wrapping up, Spencer outlined the product roadmap for 2018 (more to come next issue). And in response to questions around GDPR from channel partners, he confirmed that Toshiba would be running an events forum early January in order to help partners to prepare for what he described as ‘data security on steroids’ and that the company was bringing in an online expert from Barclays to talk to partners about digital fraud.