In November, Brother UK overhauled its partner programme to encourage resellers to sell more contractual solutions and services. Technology Reseller asks Greig Millar, general manager for sales, what the change means for Brother’s channel partners and what it says about the company’s plans for the future
Technology Reseller (TR): How does the new partner programme differ from Brother’s old one?
Greig Millar (GM): The legacy partner programme operated on a tiered model, with each level structured to support resellers in driving sales of printers or solutions. However, as we worked more with channel partners looking to tap into the growing services and solutions market, it became evident that some changes needed to be made to support that, in particular simplifying and maximising the rebate earning potential.
Historically, resellers would earn a tiered rebate dependent on the device sold – a high-end model would attract a higher reward than an entry-level printer, for example. This didn’t necessarily encourage the reseller to upsell and look at solutions. Although there were no major problems with this, in a changing marketplace, we continuously have to review how we can best support our partners and we recognised that we could make it easier for them to manage and maintain their earnings.
One of the key changes to the new programme is the way we have restructured the rebate model to give our partners more confidence in how they calculate their earnings. Under the new programme, partners will be ranked at either Reseller, Gold or Platinum level, with each tier offering a tailored set of benefits and varying levels of rebate earning potential.
Targets are set on a quarterly basis and if partners achieve the same level as in the corresponding quarter the previous year, they will receive a ?at rebate. We will also set a ‘stretch’ target, which, if hit, will deliver an additional percentage rebate on top. For our Platinum partners, there’s a third level, where incremental rebates will be paid on sales of selected SKUs and key products.
We will also break down all sales and supply each partner with a report that clearly summarises the revenues earned each quarter.
The new partner programme is designed to help strengthen and grow channel partners’ businesses and includes sales and marketing support; product promotions; partner certification; incentive schemes and rewards; an improved and easier to manage rebate scheme; and additional rewards for selling MPS. Partners can access these tools and benefits through the online portal, BrotherZone.
TR: What has prompted Brother to introduce the new programme now?
GM: Our business, and our partners’ businesses, have changed rapidly in recent years as more and more customers turn to procuring print systems as a service. Our new programme is much more reflective of this, rewarding partners who invest in selling solutions and giving them much more visibility of the rebates associated with this.
We also wanted to make sure we were taking all our partners on the journey with us, regardless of where their current solution offering stands. The new programme offers greater incentives to sell any of our MPS products, whether that’s a cloud-based ‘low touch’ product or full managed services, helping resellers to play to their strengths.
TR: How will the new structure boost resellers’ margins and secure long-term contracts with customers?
GM: The new programme offers partners greater opportunities to earn rebates across all key products in our portfolio with some additional incentives built in around sales of our MPS solutions. Procured services open doors for more long-term partnerships with end-users, as they see the benefits of cost savings, more efficient operations and continued insight and support. Our new programme, along with our wider reseller support, better rewards and motivates partners that secure these types of contract.
TR: Apart from MPS, what other services and contractual solutions are you offering – and do you plan to introduce more next year?
GM: Our current focus is on the continued development of our MPS products, from our cloud-based platform to our full end-to-end managed service. Having said that, we’re continuously reviewing and evolving our solutions, which currently span mobile print and scan and document management.
TR: What percentage of Brother revenue comes from services now and do you plan to increase that in the future?
GM: Services are one of the strongest growth areas for our business – we’re on track to be 18% over target this financial year. As the industry continues to head towards a service-led approach, we’ll develop our solutions to meet the needs of partners and end users.
TR: What sort of resellers are you targeting with your MPS product – are there opportunities for non-printer channel partners?
GM: We want to open up MPS to more channel partners, and we’re looking to traditional office equipment resellers and retailers, as well as our SI and VAR channel, to achieve that. We’ve expanded the Basic MPS model, which we introduced a few years back, so that we now offer a comprehensive, simple, flexible service that encompasses basic and advanced offers and caters to a broad range of markets, spanning SMB, public sector and corporate.
We’ve deliberately ensured our new programme is tailored to support partners of all shapes and sizes focusing on different markets. While we see big MPS growth opportunities for partners in retail, healthcare, education and SMB, in particular, our solutions are designed to meet the specific needs of individual businesses, meaning we can support partners working in all kinds of sectors.
We have established and trusted relationships with many firms in the channel, and this will always be key to us. However, it’s important that we continue to diversify. For example, we’ve been developing new relationships with specialists in retail IT support, which falls outside of what’s known as the traditional channel.
TR: What has the take-up of Brother MPS been like to date and what targets do you have for 2018?
GM: Since we launched our solutions offering just a few years ago, we’ve had strong year-on-year growth every year. We’ve outperformed all our targets and expect to continue to do so in the coming years, with the help of our revised partner programme.
We’ve been particularly strong in certain key markets – for example, we now provide MPS solutions to over 50% of the UK grocery sector. Our ambition is to continue to grow in these areas, as well as increase our foothold across other vertical markets.