Resources abound for dealers looking to target vertical markets.
Show me a vendor who believes their product is a good fit for a given vertical market, and I’ll show you a vendor with a bounty of resources to better helps its channel hone in on a vertical market opportunity.
Greg Gondek, president of ACT Group in Cromwell, Connecticut, can count on his manufacturers””Ricoh and Kyocera””to help his dealership close a vertical market deal.
“I don’t think you can find two better companies to help us maintain and grow our business,” said Gondek, who is knee-deep in a love affair with his two vendors. All that’s missing is the flowers and candy. “Kyocera goes above and beyond to help with these vertical markets. They’re aggressive and offer whatever support you need, while Ricoh has put together a great package for dealers. Used to be one was better than the other, and they would flip flop. Now, it’s a coin toss and they both have equally raised the bar.”
When he speaks about raising the bar, he’s referring to good price support and providing personnel to help close a deal.
“If I need support on applications or need the manufacturer in on a presentation, Kyocera will drop everything to be here, and it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Ricoh is the same, and we’re not one of their bigger dealers.”
Nuancing the Legal and Health Care Markets
Nuance offers a wide array of resources to help its resellers target vertical market opportunities out there. The software company offers toolkits for the legal, health care, financial, and manufacturing markets, for example. These toolkits feature case studies, white papers, and PowerPoints for training sales reps.
George Seymour, Nuance’s vice president of sales, enterprise software solutions, believes dealers need a strong engagement plan when approaching vertical markets.
“We’ve put together opportunities for our own resellers to leverage Nuance’s breath in this industry””health care,” said Seymour. “Say they wanted to host an open house at their facility. Our channel marketing team would even help and leverage Nuance’s name on the invite. Maybe you have a general topic on security, not focused just on health care, to get them in the door. Those are things that can generate opportunities.”
Seymour also has some advice for dealers selling software, particularly software targeting legal and healthcare environments.
“Those tend to be IT buyer-centric purchases,” he said while adding that healthcare buyers are interested in security, savings, and green initiatives, which play into document management and advanced capture workflow.
Vertical Market Makeover
One might be surprised to learn that a company known for consumables could help a dealer target vertical markets, but that’s exactly what a dealer can count on from Clover Imaging Group (CIG). The company creates customized vertical market videos that will show the customer how that dealer can meet the needs of different types of verticals.
“We speak specifically to the health care persona and also have marketing collateral dedicated solely to health care,” reported Aaron Dyck, vice president, CIG Solutions. “You don’t want to deal with a general physician when you have a brain injury, you want a brain surgeon. And you wouldn’t want a general line sales rep selling to health care, you want a healthcare specialist, so we try to arm them from a marketing perspective with that content.”
Clover also has an integrated mapping tool that allows real time visibility into a printing environment within specific verticals.
“We look at it from a healthcare standpoint,” explained Dyck. “We can say here’s where all your devices are based on your usages and our experience in the healthcare vertical so we’re able to move these devices around to maximize output and opportunity within your environment.”
In addition, dealers can call on Clover to help them with website development and content management for targeting specific verticals. For example, if a dealer wants to target health care, Clover will create content that speaks to a health care customer’s challenges and how that dealership can help that customer overcome those challenges.
A 360-Degree Approach to Vertical Marketing
Toshiba recently launched a program called V360 to better help its dealers target vertical markets. The program has a heavy educational component for an array of vertical markets that helps dealers understand the uniqueness of each market.
“If you’re looking at vertical markets, the key is [determining] what is unique about that specific market in terms of what they do, how they buy, or the characteristics of the product [being sold to that market] that make it different then the next one,” said Bill Melo, chief marketing executive at Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc.
The V360 Program also incorporates elements of Toshiba’s Elevate platform.
“The whole idea of the Elevate platform is that the product for health care looks different than the product for manufacturing, etc.,” explained Melo.
Toshiba also provides vertical market demand generation via unique digital marketing campaigns to help dealers target customers in vertical markets. This includes content for buyers and customer incentives like leasing specials, buyouts, or product bundles, as well as incentives for dealers and the dealer’s salespeople.
“The whole idea of this V360 is to make it soup to nuts: education, products, incentives, and services,” concluded Melo.
Stand by Your Scan
Health care is an ideal market for standalone scanners, even if the primary sales driver tends to be the software bundled with the scanner. One company that’s been successful selling scanners to the health care market is Panasonic, whose products have passed the Drummond Group, Inc. test suite for compatibility with any EMR/EHR, PM, and ECM electronic medical records system.
Because Panasonic is strictly a channel-driven company, anything it does is all about funneling leads back to the reseller.
“While we do the marketing effort and lead generation, we also cultivate the sale,” reported Joe Odore, product manager at Panasonic Systems Communications Company of North America. “We’re in there working the sale, and then, we bring a reseller in, which helps drive the sale too.”
When asked about the minimum knowledge required of a channel partner to target the health care market with its products, Odore noted that there’s not too much knowledge a reseller needs, for the most part.
“What we look for depends on the customer”“how much support they need, how local they need the support, what integration services they may offer,” said Odore. “When we bring a reseller in, some health care customers prefer somebody local who can give hands on support, whereas others will do it all themselves. It depends on the uniqueness of each account.”
As an example, Odore offered a recent health care facility win to illustrate how Panasonic works with the channel to sell its products.
“We worked with the reseller, but the reseller didn’t do much other than facilitate the quoting process, while the end user IT group wanted to be the primary support mechanism,” said Odore. “Whereas we have other customers who want somebody to come in and be their point of contact, support person. It all depends on infrastructure preference of each account.”
Panasonic also gives its channel partners, especially smaller resellers, the option of using its inside sales reps to make sales calls on their behalf. The company will even co-brand material with the reseller’s name.
“We can do email blasts through our system, protect the reseller with those customers, and provide printed collateral,” said Odore. “We’re very flexible. We provide a lot of assistance. In the end, for any reseller willing to work with us, we’re willing to give them what they need to be successful.”
Sharp’s OSA and Partner Program
Vince Janelli, Sharp’s associate vice president, software product management, never misses an opportunity to tout Sharp’s OSA platform or Sharp’s Partner Program, even when discussing vertical markets. The OSA platform allows dealers to customize Sharp products with features and software””often from a vendor in Sharp’s Partner Program””to meet the needs of specific customers, including those in vertical markets.
“We want to work within the landscape of our customers and we want to take a vertical approach,” observed Janelli.
He explained that in the health care space not only does Sharp examine the basic landscape from a print and records management [perspective], but when it comes to records, consideration is given to how to integrate the client’s hardcopy scan into their content management system.
“There, we work with partners like OnBase as they have presence and linkage into the EHRs of the world,” said Janelli.
Education is another vertical where Sharp assists dealers. In late 2015, Sharp announced a partnership with Blackboard, Inc. to enhance the paper-to-digital workflows in the higher education and K”“12 environments. Sharp’s integration with Blackboard’s learning management system, Blackboard Learn, enables students to print and scan assignments from any connected Sharp MFP directly to the students’ Blackboard Learn courses.
As part of this relationship, Sharp plans to support online course development, giving educators the ability to add original electronic and scanned materials directly into Blackboard Learn courses via Sharp Cloud Portal Office, its content management and sharing service.
PaperCut is another partner that Sharp has worked closely with to create a solution that met the need of a client in the educational space. This school wanted to ensure that students using its MFPs would have those transactions integrated into the same accounting system used for all the students’ other financial transactions.
Students were already using a school debit card for their transactions, but now there was a need to integrate the copying, scanning, and printing onto their debit cards without requiring an additional debit system.
“Through PaperCut, who integrated into the accounting system, and then into our devices, and through another partner, RFID, who did the card readers, we provided a [total] solution that integrated with the students’ existing debit cards,” said Janelli.
Shows and conferences focused on specific verticals can sometimes be tremendous educational opportunities for anyone looking to target those verticals. For example, one of the higher profile shows for the Legal market is Legal Tech, which was took place in New York City from January 31 through February 2, 2017. Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. and its IT services division, All Covered, were among the many exhibitors at this year’s conference. Other familiar names exhibiting at the conference were Xerox, Ricoh, Samsung, HP, Canon, and Nuance.
The products on display at Legal Tech have been slowly shifting away from print-centric devices. For example, this year, Konica Minolta showed The Lawyer’s Help Desk, an on-demand help desk created specifically for law firms that specializes in legal applications and supports firms with the sense of urgency and expertise they require. As another example, Legal Tech attendees had a chance to see ALICE™ Receptionist, a virtual receptionist system to manage visitors intelligently companies can track and manage visitors.
While a show like Legal Tech may not be as obvious a choice when it comes to the benefits it can provide to the independent dealer channel, the vendors who exhibit at a show of this nature are placing their brand, technology, and solutions in front of a key target audience. And that target audience may remember that brand, technology, and solutions when that vendor’s dealer comes a calling.