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An oven-ready proposition

Stuart Sykes, Managing Director, Sharp Business Systems UK said that the company is making it as easy as possible for partners, describing Sharp’s offer as ‘oven ready’

Stuart Sykes
Stuart Sykes

“We are launching a new interactive application that salespeople can have on their laptops,” he said. The new tool brings up a 3D image of an office, if an individual clicks on any function for example HR, it plays a video and brings up the typical processes used in that environment. Typical areas include the digital mailroom, accounts payable, meeting room or reception, and the solutions available. “It’s an easy to use tool for sales professionals, dealers can co-brand it and it’s designed to help them make money.”

Sykes was formerly with IoT, a dealership acquired by Sharp seven years ago. “As a former dealer I understand resistance to change and the need for someone to prove I can make money from it. We will train our partners’ people, eliminate the fear factor, and ensure they are confident that it’s a simple proposition – we’ll do it in steps.”

Sharp says its key focus is on ensuring partners understand the offering and that partners carefully select which components they take on – not too much that they can’t support it all from day one but not too little that they sell as a commodity.

One example of a new solution that can be easily adopted by print resellers is an atmospheric water generator that basically turns air into water – it requires no plumbing and is really environmentally friendly.

“Skywell is a Foxconn-owned company,” Sykes explained, adding: “I think it’s right for us and for our dealers. Our partners can say yes we want that practical component, it’s easy to sell.”

He continued: “It’s a simple piece of hardware that perfectly fits what we as print resellers do every day. It can be either sold or leased, it needs an engineer to install and service it every quarter, it needs consumable items and it can be billed on a cost per cup basis – not so far removed from how we sell, service and bill printers.”

Partner recruitment
In the UK, in terms of unit placements, Sharp’s business is split 50/50 direct and indirect. The company has around 100 partners in the UK and is actively looking to increase its channel presence.

“We are trying to bring on new partners, recruitment within the channel is very important to us and we’re proactively looking outside of our traditional field into the IT side,” Sykes said, adding: “There is an appetite for change out there, there are lots of start-ups as well as dealers who want to transform their businesses. For Sharp, expanding our partner base is an ongoing programme, we’re looking to expand into areas where we currently don’t have a presence.”

Targeting growth
In terms of unit sales, Sharp has 10 per cent of the colour A3 market. “The market is declining at minus six per cent and we are up plus one per cent – that’s seven points above market status, we are the only brand growing,” Sykes said, adding: “That’s tangible – we’ve got 10 per cent which leaves 90 per cent to go for – there’s still growth there.”

“Our new A4 mono range also provides opportunity for growth,” he continued. “But what differentiates our proposition is our collaboration piece – no other vendor has that offer.”

18 months ago Foxconn said they wanted to restore the Sharp brand. “They are starting to do that, with new Sharp monitors, TVs and mobile phones. I am extremely excited about the future,” he said in conclusion.

In brief

Sharp One:

a new web portal for dealers and partners will shortly launch in the UK before being rolled out across Europe. The new tool will enable Sharp resellers to access all product information in one place as well as provide access to the training academy. The site will house a comprehensive set of downloadable assets including logos, images and videos.

Sharp Academy:

Sharp has made some enhancements to improve its online training tool. Designed for both sales professionals and technicians, the company has added solutions and visual solutions products as well as MFPs. The site will also include training tools for all of the new products launched in Edinburgh.

Sharp Remote Device Manager Version:

2.5: New features include a status bar, enabling MFPs to be individually controlled; new security levels across the fleet, as well as an improved power management feature. Other enhancements include the ability to schedule firmware upgrades to happen overnight and setting rules at both fleet and device level to better monitor and manage the fleet.