by Patricia Ames | 6/2/16

Last week I had the pleasure of attending one of Canon U.S.A.’s coast-to-coast road shows in Chicago. I was interested to see how the vision conveyed in September 2015 at the Canon Expo by Chairman Mitarai would be messaged by Canon U.S.A. to the independent dealer channel now. During the September event, Mitarai focused on Canon’s record of innovation and desire to serve as a platform for new technologies. The roadshow took this message one step further and hand-delivered dealers a platform designed to allow them to provide tailor-made workflow solutions to their customers.

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Tom O’Neill, Director Product Marketing, kicks off the road show

Workflow magazine is three years old this month and we have spent a large portion of that time covering the challenges of document management and business process automation. Diving into various vertical sectors has served to highlight the fascinating depth of the complexity of those fields. The applications and algorithms created to deal with the complexity have been surprising and enlightening and only possible due to technological innovations in cloud-based models and advanced analytic tools.

Given the complicated nature of the current business environment, how is a dealer or reseller in the B2B channel – most likely themselves an SMB company – able to not only have a good understanding of the complexities of the issues and be up to date on the technology, but also be able to serve as a trusted advisor to their clients and confidently suggest and implement solutions that will help their customers be more efficient and profitable and grow?

The answer to that, at least for Canon dealers, is Canon’s holistic solution services platform. Canon believes this strategy addresses the majority of the workflow situations Canon customers have. By combining a state of the art MFP product line, powerful integrated software, professional services, dealer and customer support, and the necessary infrastructure to sell and service accounts in the changing marketplace, Canon feels well-positioned to allow its dealers and resellers to be masters of the proverbial Rubik’s Cube.

Just like vendors in retail environments, Canon is fighting for “shelf space, but in this case in the minds of the sales teams in the field attempting to resolve the workflow problems of the business world. There are a whole host of solutions out there, some independent, some partnered with specific hardware vendors and some wholly owned and integrated in one company. Canon believes with flexibility through its MEAP platform to work in most digital ecosystems of customers and through this wholly owned integrated approach, that the company provides the superior option that will offer customers seamless, optimized experiences.

Canon came to the road show armed with an arsenal of well-thought-out handouts, infographics, and data sheets in a bid to gain that mindshare. A thumb drive was also given to each road show attendee loaded with all the PowerPoint presentations at the breakout sessions as well as digital copies of all the handouts distributed during the event. And Canon is an innovator, so they also came up with something else — the Solved Solutions Discovery Tool.

We received a demo of this new sales tool and love the thought and detail that has gone into addressing the complexity of the business environments salespeople encounter. It opens the door for salespeople to sound professional and knowledgeable in front of any client, without having to be a deep subject matter expert in any specific vertical. Designed mainly for face-to-face conversations with prospective clients using a tablet, laptop or mobile phone, the tool takes prospective customers through a series of qualifying questions meant to identify size, complexity and specific issues in their respective environment and then, depending on the sequence of answers, offers up a customized report of the specific solutions the salesperson can offer to optimize the customer’s environment and “solve” their problems.

The interface is user friendly and the customized reports at the end of the survey are detailed enough to highlight the pain points and suggested products without drowning the customer or salesperson in too much detail. The tool also addresses the common issue of “leaving money on the table” that dealerships often encounter when salespeople are hesitant to ask certain questions due to their own lack of understanding of the full functionality of some of the products being offered, or not fully trained to dig deep enough to uncover hidden pain points customers may be encountering.

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Steve Pearl making the case for solutions

Steve Pearl, Enterprise Solutions and Software team manager, mentioned during the demo that this new tool is meant to be a game changer and is “a solution for our solutions.” It’s definitely one or two more turns of the Rubik’s Cube in the right direction and color.

Canon presented a compelling case at the road show – a holistic platform, best-in-breed hardware, an army of subject matter experts and supporting materials, and even a brand new sales tool that ferrets out more opportunity. In the eternal quest for growth, these are resources well invested, but while I don’t believe we have seen the disruptor yet, the Rubik’s Cube is edging ever closer to a complete solution.

Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.