Lexmark’s Phil Boatman speaks to 2018’s Dealer ROADShow, scaling vertical strategies and spending valued time with dealers.
Above: Lexmark’s six-date 2018 Dealer ROADShow tour stops in Montreal (from left to right): Greg Chavers, vice president, North American channel sales; Marc Kao, district sales manager, Canada; Boatman and Clark Bugg, North American channel sales.
The last time I saw Phil Boatman, business alliances, Lexmark International, Inc., it was in Lexington, Kentucky in May at the first of the company’s six Road Shows. Since then, he has split his time between the home office in Lexington and on the road visiting dealers, including a recent appearance in early September at Toshiba’s LEAD conference. Lexmark is an important partner to Toshiba, and it’s usually a given Lexmark has an active presence at LEAD and in the exhibit area.
Recently, we connected with Boatman by phone to get his take on this year’s Road Shows, and more importantly, to learn what 2019 will bring for Lexmark.
CR: You had an amazingly busy spring with all those Road Shows. Do you think you achieved what you set out to accomplish?
Boatman: Absolutely. The obvious thing was to show the new technology. That’s a very important piece, but it wasn’t lost on us the importance of dealer relationships. Our biggest goal in my view was to make those relationships even stronger. The dealers that attended [the Road Shows] wanted to see the new technology and have access to Lexmark executives. We had our chief revenue officer Brock Saladin at a couple of Road Shows, Sammy Kinlaw, our new global vice president of channel and OEM Sales was there. Greg Chavers, vice president, North American Channel Sales, was at all but two of them. And of course, Clark Bugg, director, North American Channel Sales, and I were at all of them. It was great. Dealers really liked that access of getting to know us better and us getting to know them better.
CR: What were some of your most memorable moments from these Road Shows?
Boatman: The experiences. Of course, delivering the content was fun, and Clark and I had a great time keeping the crowd energized and teaching them about all our new technology, but just sharing experiences with dealers at the special events was what really stood out.
All the Road Show events were unique and memorable, but the real value of these events was having the opportunity to share Lexmark’s channel strategy, introduce our executive team to those who have not met them before, and give our partners the opportunity to get under the hood and really see the value of our newest line of monochrome and color printers and MFPs. Getting that one-on-one time with the partners is invaluable.
CR: These Road Shows present an excellent opportunity to get feedback from dealers. What’s your one or two most prominent take-homes after interacting with your channel partners?
Boatman: Dealers are hungry for partnerships that are going to enable them to keep growing. That’s a big fluffy thing to say, but when you peel that back, what it means is they want or need more than just multifunction devices or printers. One of the things we focused on in the Road Shows was our vertical expertise on the solutions side of the business. That’s nothing new for Lexmark. That’s always been woven into our DNA. However, what we did, and it’s been building over the last 18 to 24 months, we’ve shown a desire and willingness to take that off the enterprise shelf and package it for the SMB shelf.
There was a big push not only to expose dealers who may not have been aware of those resources, but also to enhance the perception about the accessibility to those resources. Based on the feedback, the dealers were very excited to find out they could gain access to our vertical market experts, and start driving differentiation and getting into accounts they couldn’t previously because they didn’t have a good story to tell, other than maybe they were the best local provider.
It was also gratifying getting affirmation from our dealers that they want to see Lexmark win and win with them. Our strategy has evolved over the last couple of years, and we’re excited about where we’re headed with that, and it’s no secret that this strategy involves growing with our channel partners in a significant way. It was a good take-home. They are excited about that strategy change, they’re seeing it in action, and they’re glad to be a part of it.
CR: What strides do you see Lexmark making in the coming year and in which segments of the business?
Boatman: We’re already seeing some positive injections of what the product roadmap looks like. We’re expanding our addressable market. When you look at our addressable market in the imaging industry, our reach has been set in a certain space. We didn’t typically offer anything below or above a certain point both in speed and in price. Now, we’re able to explore the expansion of the market and address it with products on both ends.
There’s also a desire to leverage our partnerships more, so extending our reach by expanding the number of partners we work with. That can translate any number of ways, but obviously we’re looking at new opportunities, global market share, geographically specific market share, and strategically looking at how we increase our piece of the pie in market share. We know we can do that with partnerships. That’s a nod to doing more with our channel partners as we have sought to do over the last two years and are doing today.
And you saw that at our Road Show with us making our vertical expertise available to dealers. We believe this will provide them with even more differentiation to go after additional markets.
CR: Do you expect some of these investments will lead to opportunities beyond traditional imaging?
Boatman: I do. A lot of it is still in the discussion phase, but you’re going to see us invest and deliver offerings outside traditional imaging. We’re looking at enhancing our capabilities and delivering speed. We want to scale our best-of-class offerings through R&D, software, and solutions. We’re going to invest more in managed print services, further driving differentiation there.
There are things we’re doing, and have been doing for a long time, that are without question best-in-class on the enterprise side, things such as predictive analytics and some of our cloud-based solutions. You’ve seen us drive down into the SMB space with the cloud platform we launched at our Road Shows. We’re getting very proactive with our IoT (internet of things) developments and investing a lot in empowering enterprise level customers, as well as SMB partners, on improving serviceability of the devices. We’re also looking at how to promote thought leadership with our dealer community around MPS given our expertise gained from the enterprise space.
CR: What can dealers expect to see from Lexmark in the near future above and beyond what you just shared with us so far and all the great, new stuff you introduced at this year’s Road Shows?
Boatman: They’ll continue to see more of what we gave them at the Road Shows. It’s difficult to share everything in a day-and-a-half format, but we feel like we gave partners a taste of what to expect from Lexmark going forward, which is a heavy investment in our relationships with particular attention to our coverage model. They can expect even more support in the coverage model, whether that’s through access to our vertical market experts, increasing our service support through personnel and cloud platforms, or other tools we’re going to begin offering as we roll out new capabilities in our cloud platform.
They should also expect more profitability out of Lexmark in terms of the solutions we offer and a simplification of how they manage Lexmark devices. That encompasses quite a bit, but it all gets back to IoT, device management, and some of the other technologies we’re bringing to market. Finally, there’s going to be a continued push to bring our dealers into more co-selling opportunities, particularly with our large account team, and getting dealers more involved in some of these accounts where Lexmark has had little or no presence and the dealer may be more agile and have a local relationship.
Through our combined efforts we can win big together.
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