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Clear Commitment: Chris Smith Discusses Epson’s new partner Programme

Coinciding with the launch of Epson’s new Partner Programme (see box), Technology Reseller Editor James Goulding visited Chris Smith, Epson’s recently appointed Head of Business Sales for the UK and Ireland, to find out more about the company’s plans for 2019. Here are edited highlights of our discussion.

James Goulding (JG): Please can you tell me a little about Epson’s overall channel strategy.

Chris Smith (CS): Our channel strategy is very simple. Epson does not sell direct so we need to support our resellers and show we are fully committed to them.

As part of this, we develop joint plans with our resellers, planning with them – we don’t plan for them and we don’t expect our resellers to plan for us. We plan together, so we have their full engagement in the execution of plans that are in the joint interests of Epson and our reseller community.

JG: What are your plans for this year?

CS: Our priorities and goals for 2019 are to enhance the experience our resellers have with Epson by ensuring our sales teams focus on the areas that resellers want to promote and eventually sell.

To this end, we’ve split out some specialist teams, so we’ve got a business print specialist team, we’ve got a business projection specialist team, and we’ve got our photocopier market specialist team as well.

In addition, we have a vertically aligned end user sales team. Their job within each specific vertical, be it hospitality, education, retail etc., is to support resellers by presenting and working out a deal from idea through to delivery with our reseller community.

JG: It’s early days, but what feedback have you had so far?

CS: A lot of our larger partners appreciate the investment we’ve made to bring in experienced managers for the teams I‘ve mentioned and say that we are already quicker and a lot easier to deal with than we were.

JG: In terms of new products, what can resellers look forward to this year?

CS: On the projection side, we have very new and exciting products coming out towards the end of the year; and on the print side, we have already launched three new products this calendar year and plan to add more throughout the year.

When we bring a product to market, we do so with a full go-to-market strategy for our resellers, so they can take it to their customers very, very promptly.

JG: Epson has a fairly unique proposition for printer resellers. What are some of the key things you want them to represent to their clients?

CS: Our messaging to the reseller community is very much that business ink is the future and a big growth area. Our marketing around its ecological benefits is very strong and we need to make sure end users are fully educated on that and on the low intervention rate of our products, which benefits our resellers as well as their end users.

JG: That must be a big selling point for your growing cohort of managed print service providers.

CS: Absolutely, and also for verticals, especially education, and for satellite offices and home workers. The low intervention rate and very low emissions from our printers are a big attraction for remote workers. Having something in your house that engineers won’t have to attend to is good both for the end user and the reseller.

JG: What do you see as the key growth areas on the AV side?

CS: The big growth is in our interactive products. Some of our newer projectors are fully interactive and, as Epson, we need to educate our resellers in their functionality. Interactivity is going to be the growth area for 2019.

In the education market, we also have a Size Matters campaign, which is all about how images big enough to be seen clearly from the back of a large classroom can only really be achieved with a projector. This campaign is working very, very well for us.

The full interview can be seen at