IN THE HOT SEAT: Waugh drives print channel

IN THE HOT SEAT: Waugh drives print channel

Like his famous cricketing namesake, Stephen Waugh is a determined competitor who knows the value of occupying the crease for a long time. With seven years under his belt at Lexmark, he shares some thoughts on market trends, successful channel relationships and his love of fast cars.

How does Lexmark categorise its channel partners?

Stephen Waugh (SW): We have two areas of business — I look after the retail consumer channel and those resellers and retailers servicing small business customers; Graham Kittle is general manager of the enterprise, corporate and government business. We categorise small business as anything up to 50 seats.

Where do resellers source Lexmark product from?

SW: We have Tech Pacific, Ingram Micro and IT Wholesale as national distributors as well as state-based wholesale partners that handle a lot of the whitebox stuff. Our supplies are distributed through Dynamic Supplies.

What are currently the biggest areas of competition in the printer market?

SW: Colour lasers and the all-in-ones are the battleground at the moment. In the consumer area, customers are moving to all-in-one in the inkjet range and laser prices have dropped by 30 per cent in the past six months. Colour laser for less than $1000 wouldn’t have been dreamed of not long ago but that market is really hotting up these days. Photo printers are also increasingly popular and we will be releasing more products in that range.

What are the most important factors in building and maintaining successful relationships with your reseller base?

SW: The key things channel partners are looking for are services and support, product reliability and ensuring they can still make a profit from a sale. To remain competitive as a printing vendor, we strive to achieve better technology, faster speeds and competitive pricing without taxing the resources of resellers. Printers at the bottom end of the scale are becoming a fast-moving area, which means we have to make everything as easy as possible for all parties so product can just flow through.

What do you think differentiates Lexmark from your competitors when it comes to working with the channel?

SW: Once resellers have sold Lexmark products they don’t have to worry about them any more because we have a call centre and can send out new machines within 24 hours through our LexExpress service. A reseller would rather be selling more product than spending half a day fixing a machine for a customer.

But what about resellers that want to provide maintenance services as part of their customer offering?

SW: We do have some small business resellers, especially in rural areas, operating as authorised Lexmark Service Centres. But with most low-end inkjet printers, if they are faulty to the point where they are not working then it isn’t worth fixing them.

How do you go about training your resellers?

SW: We have sales people on the road visiting mass merchants and resellers. Some resellers stick to the higher range of all-in-ones and mid-range laser printers but others concentrate on low-end products and bundles. Both camps need to know what competitive edge they have against competitors, which is provided through comparative charts. We also have training resources on our channel website.

As somebody who looks after Lexmark’s business with mass merchants and corner store resellers, how do the little guys stay competitive?

SW: They have a great ability to customise and can deliver additional services. It is a unique group of people they sell to — some people just feel comfortable going to their local computer store. If we were all the same it would be a boring world. The US model is different but in Australia we are built on small and medium businesses that have traditionally been serviced by smaller resellers.

What did you do before you came to Lexmark?

SW: I started out as an engineer. I entered this industry as a laser printer sales rep for Canon and went on to become state manager and assistant general manager for sales and marketing during my 10 years there. I then took about 18 months off, because I had young children, and spent a year working for a copier company before joining Lexmark about seven years ago.

And what do you do when you are not at your desk?

SW: I try to fish and play golf but do both badly. I love my car racing and follow Ford in the V8 Supercar Championship. We took 500 resellers to the Lexmark Indy300 event in Surfers Paradise last year — it’s a really cool, down-to-earth event and the race just goes off. This year’s Start Your Engines promotion is already under way and will run until September. The race takes place on October 24.

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