BTA Grand Slam 2019 Takes New York by Storm

The BTA East hosted its annual New York “Grand Slam” event, with more than 100 attendees and roughly 50 exhibitors at the Sheraton Times Square Manhattan.

The event kicked off with a keynote titled “Joining the Conversation” from Chris Messina, who is the inventor of the hashtag. No, really — you didn’t know the hashtag had an inventor? While the pound sign has existed on telephones since the beginning of time(ish), smartphones rendered it a fairly useless key. Enter Twitter, which in its early days was primarily an SMS platform. Per his Wikipedia page — and you know he’s a big deal because he has a Wikipedia page —  Chris threw out the following idea

The initial response was “those things are for nerds.” We love it when nerds have the last laugh.

Chris Messina Hashtag
The timeline of the hashtag.

Messina also talked about the arc of computing, the future of the digital world, and how voice-directed computing will eventually lead to greater human interaction.

Next up was a dealer panel moderated by Convergo’s Darrell Amy, featuring Robert Hilyard of Hilyard’s Business solutions; Samantha Lahey of Benchmark Business Solutions and Harry Spaight of HGi Technologies — who joked he is still trying to figure out why we need the hashtag. Offering the perspectives of a dealer principal, sales executive and a marketing expert, the panel discussed how to gain new business in areas like hardware, managed services and solutions.

Dealer panel BTA
Robert Hilyard of Hilyard’s Business solutions; Samantha Lahey of Benchmark Business Solutions and Harry Spaight of HGi Technologies.

The panel tied nicely into the next presentation, “The Crucial Role of Sales and Marketing Alignment” from Lindsay Bohon and Josie Heskje of GreatAmerica. They discussed the importance of aligning sales and marketing — “smarketing,” they call it — to achieve results. Today’s buyers are more than 70% of the way through the decision process before they even speak to your sales team. Given that information, think about how critical marketing is to the sales process — now how do you make them work together? The team helped answer those questions with a  little role-playing and a lot of interesting information that can be used to improve the sales and marketing process.

Lindsay Josie preso BTA
Josie Heskje and Lindsay Bohon talk smarketing.

In “Vendors Find the Urge to Merge Irresistible,” Actionable Intelligence’s Charlie Brewer took a look at some of the M&A action we’re seeing in the industry lately, discussing the HP purchase of the Samsung printing business and its future significance, Ninestar’s acquisition of Lexmark, and the problems facing LMI Solutions as well as Clover Imaging Group – hinting at rumors that Clover might look to acquire LMI. Those rumors proved true just a few hours later, as Clover sent out an announcement of its agreement to purchase the business assets of LMI — a deal that was complete within a week.

In the always-tricky “I’m standing between you and lunch” spot was the man best equipped to keep us in our seats — Brad Roderick, who spoke on “Coaching for Results.” As one of the best sales trainers and voices of wisdom I know, Roderick discussed developing your natural strengths, self-analysis, and one of the hardest things for anyone in sales or not — changing your behavior. Brad is a wealth of wisdom and has graced the pages of The Imaging Channel for many years — check out some more of what he has to say. You won’t be sorry.

BPO Media was very excited to present at this BTA event, with Senior Analyst John McIntyre sharing some of the insights from our Dealer Research Study. He discussed a few findings from the study and profiled “a tale of two dealers” — showing how more successful dealers are focusing on software and solutions, while less successful dealers tend to focus more on traditional services. Want to be part of next year’s survey? You can participate at

John McIntyre
John McIntyre presents results from the BPO Dealer Survey.

Rounding out the educational portion of the event was “Cybersecurity-as-a-Service” from   Brian Suerth of TAG. He discussed a topic that is top of mind for many people these days — hacking. How can businesses address this? It’s critical to have a professional evaluation of your systems — and it’s also an important selling tool for dealers when talking to customers.

After the day’s lineup we bussed over to One World Trade Center for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and amazing views sponsored by Polek & Polek. Just two days after the 18th anniversary of September 11 was a somber time to be at the site, but we all appreciated it that much more because of it, and we shared 9/11 stories and reminisced with friends and colleagues.

One World Trade View
Picture-perfect views from the top of One World Trade Center

Mixed throughout the day-and-a-half event were presentations from sponsors including Panasonic, Xerox, Tigerpaw, Polek & Polek, Brother and Lexmark; the presentation of the 2019 Channel Champion Award to Kyocera for bringing the BTA the most dealer members in the campaign year; and the vendor fair, featuring a great mix of BTA members and lots of time to visit with them — the agenda offered larger chunks of vendor floor time mixed with education, which seems like a great mix for everyone.


Team ARCDrive BTA Vendors BTA

Some scenes from the vendor floor at BTA.

As always, hats off to the BTA for another great event.


Bonus content:

Printer at San Gennaro
What happens when a group of BTA escapees hits the Feast of San Gennaro? We take a deep interest in what kind of printer is outputting our silly souvenir photos and, as has become tradition, eat hot sausages from Chachi’s.

Chachi's Hot Sausages San Gennaro chachis


amy weiss

is editorial director of BPO Media’s publications Workflow and The Imaging Channel, and senior analyst for BPO Research. As a professional writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in public relations and has a master's degree in communication arts.