Xerox is Betting on a Different Sort of Partner - VARs,

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Xerox is after the more sophisticated end of the SMB market and says it needs 600 new VARs and a new set of products to do it.

Xerox is expanding its VAR program to target 600 top partners in the United States with new product offerings that focus on the higher-end of the small and midsize business market.

The new program adds seven more printers, MFPs (multi-function printers) and fax printers to the line of products available for VARs to sell. VARs previously had access to only 27 of Xerox's products including monochrome printers and entry level multi-function devices.

Among the new products now available to the VARs is a higher-end MFP that can produce both letter size and ledger size documents at up to 90 pages per minute in black and white and 50 pages per minute in color.

Click here to read more about Xerox's new products designed for SMBs.

Xerox is recruiting new VARs to sell this expanded line of products, but a spokesman said it was still unclear whether the company would tap its existing VAR ranks to populate the 600 that will be part of the new program.

Terry Hedden, CEO of Infinity Business Systems in Tampa, Fla., was among the VARs recently recruited by Xerox to be part of the new program, and so far it's been a boon for his company.

Infinity Business Systems has customers in nine states and offers a comprehensive range of IT services, including managed services, to customers.

"They hold your hand through the process," he said. "And they funded a full-time sales person on our staff."

Hedden's company is now offering Xerox-based managed services to his customers, offering the product lease, consumables, warranty and repair services—everything except the staples and paper—on a subscription basis depending on the metered page count. The package deal is called a Page Pack, Hedden said.

And so far Infinity's customers are impressed. The Xerox name itself is well-known with customers and makes it easier to sell, said Hedden.

In addition, part of the sales support Xerox has provided is a mathematical breakdown of the cost savings of using the Xerox device and services, and that tool alone has helped Infinity Business Systems close a high percentage of sales, Hedden said.

Xerox first got into the VAR channel through its acquisition of the Tektronix color printing and imaging division in 2000. That organization came with a reseller infrastructure already in place. Xerox used that infrastructure to sell the existing Tektronix line and added a few of its own products into the mix. But today's announcement marks the most significant expansion to the channel program since the acquisition.

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Xerox also announced an expansion of its agent program, giving agents access to a wider array of accounts that were previously served exclusively by the Xerox direct sales force, the company said in a statement.

"We are making our most significant investment in reseller and agent partnerships since we launched these distribution channels," said Jim Firestone, president of Xerox North America, in a statement.

Xerox said these moves are part of a broad effort designed to capture a bigger slice of the estimated $44 billion worldwide opportunity in the SMB market. According to Xerox estimates, $17 billion of that opportunity is in North America.

Xerox announced the expansion of its channel and agent program at its first Partner Summit event, which the company said drew about 800 Xerox agents and VARs to Orlando, Fla. this week.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com