Selling printers is hard graft.
There are no two ways about it, the technology is commoditized beyond belief and while the vendors and the distributors are pushing channel players to sell Print Services, such as Tech Data's Managed Print Services printers are almost certainly not at the forefront of most IT manager's minds.
Not only that, but many VARs have to contend with many customers buying the margin-light hardware from them, and buying the more margin-heavy consumables from any cheapest online source.
The last thing therefore the channel needs is printer vendors lauding their direct sales in front of them.
Unfortunately, it seems that's what Konica Minolta is doing. The vendor released news today of the success of its Production Services Group. Konica Minolta acquired the print services provider a year ago and it now forms part of Konica's direct sales arm.
In news released today the vendor announced that it is expanding PSG across the United States, as well as the fact that Konica has given PSG a "wealth of corporate resources" over the past year. Would these resources not have been better spent on helping its channel, one can't help but wonder. Apparently not, according to Konica's direct sales exec:
"One of the major benefits for Konica Minolta customers is the single service contract offerings that allow us to offer customers a dynamic portfolio of products and services, all from one servicing company. We're excited of the value PSG brings to Konica Minolta, and are looking forward to more success in the coming year," said Jeff Fernandez, executive vice president, US direct sales of Konica Minolta Business Solutions, in a statement.
It makes interesting reading for a vendor who purports to be channel-friendly. It's a Catch 22 for most vendors; how to express to the world that your direct sales are going well, without putting your channel partners' noses out of joint?
There is no magic answer to this age-old direct/indirect conflict question, although Konica may want to note that the gently, gently approach may be more advisable than the 'Say it loud, say it proud' approach where the channel and direct sales are concerned.