IBM Ups Rewards to Midmarket Partners
Big Blue restates commitment to its 100,000 channel partners, adds incentives, expanded certification program and more training.
IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has revitalized a commitment statement it initially made to its business partners 13 years ago, backing it with hefty incentives for midmarket sales, an expanded cross-border certification program, additional training and marketing centers, and a series of seminars on go-to-market strategies.
The vendor also has made available to business partners its huge cache of data compiled through IBM Global Services, a move that affords the channel a broader view of IBMs overall IT strategy.
The companys roster of 100,000 channel partners, which accounts for some 30 percent or $30 billion of the vendors annual revenue, recently was the beneficiary of an updated Business Partner Charter, announced and endorsed by IBM chairman and chief executive Sam Palmisano in a letter to the vendors entire reseller base.
Palmisano wrote that IBMs commitment to the channel is now more important than ever, driven by the state of the economy: Even in todays difficult environment, businesses are willing to invest in IT solutionsif they cut costs, drive efficiency and productivity, preserve capital and create competitive advantage.
He added that the charter represents our commitment to what never changes about our relationship, while renewing it for a very different world.
Responding to channel feedback
About a year ago, IBM began assessing feedback it received from channel partners about the charter, which was rewritten five years ago, as it considered how to frame it to express current and future market conditions, said Tim McChristian, IBM vice president of worldwide channel sales.
We wanted to make a statement especially in these trying times, McChristian said. Partners are looking for guidance about who to trust and we have an opportunity to be vocal, he said. Theyve given us some feedback about what to emphasize.
Chief among points of emphasis is the midmarket, where IBM believes the strongest opportunities reside for its partners to deliver purposeful solutions. We want to state to partners where we see them as the lead and thats the midmarket, McChristian said. Weve made a commitment to provide training, support and incentives in that area to make sure partners can represent us to their customers.
Accordingly, the company has upped the incentives it offers to partners selling solutions to midmarket customers by as much as 10 percent. The midmarket represents the largest opportunity of spending, McChristian said. Our partners will drive at least 70 percent of demand in this area, he said.
In addition, IBM has added an Integrated Product Export program to simplify how partners sell their products internationally, enabling channel members to develop applications in one country and sell to clients in another. Furthermore, later this year the company will add to its 43 sales and marketing-focused Innovation Centers and launch a series of 25 seminars to help partners build more value into their relationship with IBM.
The company believes that programs such as these meshed with clear evidence of its commitment to the channel will help recruit resellers to its portfolio.
Last year, we gained more than 15,000 new partners and half of those were in growth markets, McChristian said. The Charter should help with recruitment.