RISO has announced that it is expanding its partner programme in the UK. PrintIT Reseller spoke to National Dealer and Export Manager Russell Long, to find out more about the changes the company has made
RISO has both a direct and indirect sales arm, its direct channel is responsible for 60 per cent of UK turnover and its dealer channel – currently 45 partners, comprises the remaining 40 per cent. Long said that whilst it is keen to increase the number of partners, its key objective is to achieve market growth.
“Really what we’re looking to grow is the machine base rather than the potential number of partners. So what we will focus on is strategically adding to our partner base based on their MIF, rather than just adding partners for the sake of it,” he said.
The new RISO partner programme is designed to assist partners in ways that best suit their individual company objectives. “Our approved partners are invaluable to us and at RISO we are fully committed to a collaborative approach in taking our technology to market,” Long explained, adding: “Previously our partners were all approved dealers, what we’ve now got in common with other OEMs, is a tiered partner programme. And we’re keen to move our existing partners up the scale, to give them greater rewards and incentivise others to get to the next level.”
Commenting on the current state of play, Long explained that RISO has a mix of dealers. “Naturally there are some that are very active and achieving very high sales numbers and others that are not. On the previous regime there was no differentiation between them, now we’re geared up to reward those active dealers both financially and non-financially.”
He continued: “We have a number of legacy dealers pushing duplicators heavily and we’ve got a number of new dealers that are reselling our inkjet colour technology. Quite a few partners fall into both categories. The thinking behind the new partner programme concept is to reward those dealers that are invested in us, those who are proactively pushing RISO products and selling more units.”
RISO has a global strategy to branch out of its core market segments. “Our digital duplicator – RG technology – has historically been very successful within the education sector, among religious institutions and political parties etc. When we entered the inkjet technology market, a lot of our initial sales both direct and indirect were in those sectors, but our global strategy is to branch out and target new markets.” Long explained.
The latest range of inkjet machines have been designed exactly to meet that objective. “Since the fifth generation inkjet devices were launched in the UK last year, we’ve had far more success in entering new markets,” Long confirmed, adding: “So what we want to do with the new partner programme is to strategically add partners who focus on those markets, as well as improving how we support our channel, whether that’s through marketing, sales or technical, to enable our existing partners to also attack those markets.”
Long said that RISO has had a lot of success in the production print market in general and has attended several major print shows in Europe. “When it comes to transactional print and direct mail, we are offering a very low TCO solution for colour cut-sheet printing. We have also seen some good results in the financial, legal and logistics sectors, as well as with FM companies – anywhere where there is volume.
“With our colour cut-sheet inkjet printer, the new ComColor GD Series, which along with the new FW models, provide the fastest, low cost per colour page printing solution, we are looking to make big in-roads into the office space.”
Long argues that the corporate CRD is perfect for RISO. “With the FW range, we are seeing more and installs with a follow me print solution, and our channel is incorporating RISO products within a wider MPS solution, because of the low running costs particularly for colour print output. From a resellers’ perspective they can achieve a very strong TCO by incorporating the low pricing that the RISO printers offer. It’s very effective and that’s why we’ve attracted interest from a number of new partners recently.”
The new partner programme has eight levels, each one has different qualification criteria and tiered benefits, and all partners have to achieve the annual partner units target at each level. There will also be an online partner portal providing access to technical, training and marketing support services and announcements.
The new programme has been designed with multiple tiers to cater for the needs of a wide variety of partners. “The different partner tiers are designed to reward increased commitment to RISO business. Simply put, the more our partners invest in us, the more we invest in them,” Long said.
Approved partners include: RG Partners who have access to the whole RISO duplicator solution range; IJ Partners who benefit from access to the entire RISO inkjet range and IJ & RG Partners who have access to all RISO products across both the inkjet and duplicator ranges.
“We still have a loyal user base for duplicators out t
here and that’s why we have maintained the RG Partners offering,” Long explained.
There is also a Corporate Partner level, for those resellers focused on delivering RISO inkjet technology to corporate and commercial clients. “Corporate Partner status sits on its own,” he said, adding: “It can be achieved by any partner level and run alongside it, for example a reseller could hold a premium partner level such as Gold as well as Corporate, there are different incentives for being a Corporate Partner, revamping the programme as we have done, is part of our strategy to attack fresh markets.”
Premium partner levels:
Premium partners are required to have engineers trained on all current product lines as well as keep their websites up-to-date on all relevant product lines.
The first of the premium partner levels, Advanced Partners, benefit from access to the whole RISO product range. Both financial and non-financial rewards are available to Advanced Partners.
Gold Partners enjoy all the benefits of Advanced Partners with added rewards such as league table incentives and marketing visits.
RISO partners invited to participate at both Platinum Partner tiers enjoy the highest levels of benefits and support across the entire RISO product ranges. Organisations that reach Platinum Star Partner status – the highest level – benefit from competitive pricing, sponsored call days, sales and marketing support and increased financial incentives.
Dependent on the partner level, key benefits include sales support, such as field accompaniment, demonstrations, customer training assistance and telephone days. RISO has also increased its marketing support and resellers will have access to mailers, showroom collateral, brochures, leave pieces and promotional items. The company will also conduct lead generation activity to help maximise sales opportunities.
Approved partners can also tap into a dedicated technical support team, technical bulletins with firmware updates and notifications, as well as a range of training sessions covering product overviews (by range or model), new product launches, sales skills and general overviews. Level-dependent incentive schemes include annual awards as well as quarterly and annually league table incentives for sales persons.
The new programme was launched to existing partners in January. Long said: “Because this isn’t a revised partner programme it’s a completely new concept for RISO, it has been very well received by partners. We’re not just rebranding it, we are realigning all of our support. Since launch, we have had four new partners come on board.”
“We’ve restructured internally so we can increase the sales support available to our partners and we’re opening a web portal for them to access a wide range of resources from one source. It’s a big step change, we have completely overhauled how we are working with our channel partners,” he said in conclusion.