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Lenovo Unveils 'Simpler' Channel
By John Hazard


PC maker Lenovo is going to market with a simplified model of the PartnerWorld program it inherited from IBM when it acquired that company's PC division last year.

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Lenovo has simplified membership criteria, incentives, rewards and sales requirements to tailor the program to a PC-only business. The company announced the changes March 13 at IBM's PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas.

The program also applies a dual business model that asks partners to position sales as either "relationship"—larger corporate accounts—or "transactional"—consumers and SMBs (small and midsize businesses)—to facilitate the decision between the vendor's ThinkSeries and simpler 3000 series.

Lenovo also announced goals to recruit 3,000 to 5,000 new partners by the end of the year, mostly in the SMB space, where it hopes to gain market share on the back of its 3000 series.

Simple is the cornerstone of the program, said Mark Enzweiler, Lenovo's vice president of worldwide channel strategy and sales.

When you are recruiting new VARs to a new program you need to be concise about what the benefits are and what the requirements are," he said. "This program is easy to get—if you drive business skills and you drive business growth, you will get a tick back."

PointerLenovo chairman Yang Yuanqing says the company will roll out a much more sophisticated approach to selling products that will encompass the best elements of the direct and indirect sales models. Click here to read more.

The Lenovo Partner Network offers new and redesigned offerings, including sales tools for faster and easier price quotes; demand generation tools with building blocks to assemble Web sites and materials; and an enhanced Technology Access Program to get products in resellers' hands for demonstration.

Resellers will be categorized as Premium Partners or Lenovo Business Partners, another simplification over the three tiers of PartnerWorld, Enzweiler said. The top two tiers of PartnerWorld partners will make up the inaugural class of Premium partners.

The company is introducing a transactional business model to help drive sales of the 3000 series based on price and product characteristics. The program continues to rely on a relationship model, weighted toward business value for its Think Series.

Lenovo also increased margins and marketing-and-demand-generation spending over the PartnerWorld figures. The new partner incentive program is based on a value, Enzweiler said, paying larger margins for things such as growing retention accounts for resellers or inventory turnover for distribution partners.

Lenovo and resellers expect the new channel and the 3000 series, which starts at $349 for desktops and $599 for notebooks, to make a splash in the market against competitors like Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

"There was always the issue of the best value when you were selling against a Dell or an HP," said James B. Brown, business development manager at Presidio, a Greenbelt, Md.-based Lenovo reseller. "If you couldn't quantify the business value, the sale came down to price and you lost. This is a way to get back that market share."

Resellers questioned were pleased with the Lenovo Partner Program, which was based largely on their suggestions, Lenovo officials said.

     
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