HP takes print-specialist partners to the next level

HP takes print-specialist partners to the next level

HP has locally launched a three tiered Print Specialisation programme which encourages partners to take on the vendor’s competition and move toward contractual solution selling and services.

The top level – HP Office Printing Specialist (OPS) programme – enables partners to provide end-to-end management of customers’ print requirements from hardware and parts to break-fix support, workflow and consumables management and direct billing.

“We want partners who can support customers end to end with contractual selling,” says Laserjet enterprise solutions strategy and business development manager for HP South Pacific, Paul Vella. “It’s about supplying everything a customer needs and locking out competitors. We want partners to work hard in particular geographic areas and not compete for the same opportunities.”

The vendor will invite a selected number of resellers to express interest in joining the programme, having held an information event in Auckland earlier this month with a view to appointing ‘pilot’ partners.

HP launched the programme across the Tasman in May, and has committed to appointing no more than 20 partners there. It has subsequently rolled out the scheme in Asia Pacific countries. It has not yet set a number of partners to be appointed locally, but is already working with four organisations: Laser Plus, i3, Office Max and Corporate Consumables/Print IT.

OPS is designed to increase partners’ gross margin, by providing rebates and discounts on parts, hardware, maintenance kits, HP Care Pack (HP’s own support services), supplies and finance. Partners also receive sales and marketing support, lead generation and attend sales and support training. They need to become certified in HP’s Technology Solutions Group support partner programme.

The OPS programme focuses on sales of multi-function devices, but also offers single function products. The lead generation programme encourages partners to register opportunities so there is no conflict among members of the scheme.

By owning the customer relationship, HP says OPS partners can offer tailored print solutions such as service level agreements, predictable print budgeting, print audits and environmental solutions, along with service and warranty support.

Vella established the programme in Australia and presented it at the Auckland launch event. However, he says the scheme will be managed and supported locally by HP.

Partners should make the leap to contractual solution selling to increase their gross margin, offer more value to customers and lock out competitors, says Vella. “Discussions with customers should be about business value not product speeds and feeds. The technology isn’t the discussion anymore, it’s about solutions for their business.”

Laser Plus managing director Bruce Koefoed says his company already provides full print solutions management for its customers, but the programme will formalise its efforts.

“By telling customers you’re at the highest level of accreditation as an HP partner it will certainly give you credibility and give the client confidence you have the backing of HP.

“This programme encourages partners to move from a box-selling approach to a solution-selling approach, which is what customers are demanding today. They’re far more aware of where their costs are. They want to reduce the number of suppliers so they need a supplier who will take a more consultative approach in terms of adding value and reducing costs.”

The first Print Specialisation programme level - HP Smart Print Services Programme (SPS) – allows partners to provide maintenance and consumables management through HP Care Pack, and is managed and billed through the vendor.

Under the second tier - HP Partner Print Services Programme (PSP) – partners contract customers and provide front line support, but HP provides back end support, and billing on a cost per page basis.

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