Campaign Market Focus
Channel partner engagement
Following the expansion of its production print reseller channel in line with the extension of the Canon imagePRESS C850/C750/C650 portfolio of production digital presses, Canon planned to invite 25 of its leading EMEA channel partners to a Round Table as part of its Production Printing Business Days customer event in Poing, Germany.
The Canon business development team wanted to take the opportunity of this faceto- face meeting with multiple resellers to encourage them to share their commercial experiences, while also eliciting their collective feedback about how Canon could intensify its support to nurture growth opportunities for production cutsheet solutions in the marketplace, for example in niche vertical markets and emerging application areas.
However, the packed event programme allowed for only three hours for the Round Table element. With the participation of senior management representatives from Canon Inc. in Japan, as well as channel managers from nine of Canon’s European sales organisations, it was critical that the discussions could yield some actionable conclusions on the day.
The team faced the significant practical challenge of how to manage the discussion effectively and encourage a constructive and participative dialogue between so many individuals, not all of them native English speakers, within this limited timeframe. It was also important for Canon to facilitate a meaningful conversation, ensuring that all resellers would be satisfied that any issues and concerns were openly addressed, and that opinions and best practice ideas on sales opportunities and business development could be shared effectively.
The team approached AD Communications, the strategic communications partner for Canon’s Industrial & Production Solutions business in EMEA, for support to optimise the delivery of this important stakeholder engagement initiative.
Having understood the complexities of the format and group dynamics, AD Communications made a series of recommendations to optimise the effectiveness of the reseller Round Table event.
The first step was to work with the Canon Business Development team to devise a set of questions to be submitted to the reseller delegates in advance. This would help Canon Europe during the planning stage to identify key areas of overlap across multiple geographies, and prominent areas of opportunity in order to prioritise the many potential agenda items.
AD Communications then analysed the completed partner questionnaires in advance of the event, summarising the resellers’ inputs under key headings and creating visual ‘word clouds’ as conversation starters for each section of the workshop, to highlight the topic areas and opportunities which had been identified from multiple reseller responses.
Secondly – again in close collaboration with the Canon Europe business development team – AD Communications helped to shape a three-part workshop structure for the event, aligned to Canon’s defined approach towards business-to-business customers – Explore, Inspire, Improve. The Explore: section would invite open discussion of issues and opportunities; Inspire would provide resellers with a platform for sharing positive business cases and success stories that could potentially be replicated or adapted in other geographies; Improve would allow Canon and the channel partners to consolidate the many discussion points into agreed actions for both parties.
Jeroen Wijnants, Canon Europe EMEA Sales & Business Development Manager – Partner Channel, comments: “The strategic input we received from AD Communications, grounded in their knowledge of the market, Canon’s production solutions and our go-to-market approach, helped us to structure an extremely effective reseller Round Table event.
“The questionnaire responses, combined with the feedback of our channel managers, have given us direct insight into the key areas where we can focus our efforts to support our channel partners. The collaborative workshop style helped us to fully engage all participants and gave us clear outcomes from the day, rather than it being a ‘talking shop’ or a presenting platform for Canon executives.
AD recommended that we focus on documenting specific improvement actions from the workshop. This has enabled us to work proactively with these partners and their channel managers at country level, giving us the foundations of an ongoing collaborative business development plan tailored to each channel partner which will support our business growth ambitions through 2018.
Jeroen Wijnants, EMEA Sales & Business Development Manager, Canon Europe