Toshiba’s Bill Melo offers a few good reasons why Toshiba dealers shouldn’t miss this year’s LEAD conference.
Last fall readers of The Cannata Report voted Toshiba’s LEAD conference the number one OEM dealer meeting. LEAD was also acknowledged with a Stevie Award as the top sales event in any industry not just the office technology space. So, it comes as somewhat of a surprise when we hear dealers question the value of LEAD.
We can be just as cynical as the next guy when it comes to industry events—been to one dealer meeting, been to them all. However, that’s not exactly the case with Toshiba’s LEAD scheduled for May 2-4 in Orlando. As far as we can tell, it’s the only OEM show with a dealer track and an end-user track where dealers can invite their best customers along with hot prospects.
Last year the company spent more than $1 million bringing more than 700 customers and prospects to the event—most of whom were invited by Toshiba, its independent dealers, and TBS dealers.
“There’s zero cost out of [a dealer’s] pocket to bring their customers,” emphasized Bill Melo, chief marketing executive.
Combining a dealer event with an invitation only customer event results in a fair amount of business for Toshiba and its dealers too.
“We’ve had an enormous close rate and more than double-digit growth in end users coming from dealers every year,” stated Melo. “We don’t do that because we’re nice and charitable people, we do that because we sell and dealers sell a lot of stuff.”
This is a format Toshiba has been using since 2011. Day One—the dealer day—is focused on Toshiba’s go-to-market strategies, how to engage with the customer, how to make money on its products and services, and why a customer would want these products and/or services. Day Two—the end user day—covers many of the same initiatives, but through an end-user lens, focusing on why customers should use this technology and/or service and how it can benefit them.
In addition, to hearing from Toshiba, customers also have an opportunity to visit with third parties exhibiting at the event as well as hear from Toshiba partners such as Nuance and Lexmark.
At last year’s LEAD, Toshiba introduced 23 new hardware products. This year that number will soar into the thousands thanks to the Elevate platform, a platform that Melo says transforms what’s historically become a commodity product—the MFP—into a product that can be customized for each customer.
“Our Elevate platform not only lets dealers sell a differentiated product, but also enables them to create a professional rep services revenue stream that is distinct and different from anything they’re doing today,” stated Melo.
From what Melo told us, Toshiba is taking the lead in vertical marketing via this platform and its new V360 vertical marketing program to ensure that a dealer’s sales force understands what is unique about a given vertical market, that market’s needs, the technology they can provide to that market, the ROI in that vertical environment, an understanding of the language spoken in that vertical, who the buyer is, who the influencer is, and of course, the products and solutions for that vertical. The V360 platform also includes a training program, vertical specific sell-through programs, incentive programs, and digital marketing materials to help dealers get into the account.
“It is not just here’s a customized UI, which is great, but you have to understand what this means in healthcare, finance, accounting, and how to apply it and not just the hardware but all the other solutions we have as well,” said Melo.
Learning more about the Elevate platform and the V360 program are reason enough for a Toshiba dealer to attend LEAD, but the potential to sell more “stuff” is equally compelling.
Besides that, a full menu of educational sessions is on the agenda, covering such topics as digital signage, the V360 program, workflow, customizing the MFP, marketing best practices, brand building through social media, optimizing fulfillment with automated toner replenishment, MPS, embedded applications for the MFP, and cloud-based services among many others.
“I feel confident we have an agenda that is rich in content for dealers whether they have an end user at the show or not,” concluded Melo.
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