IBM Opens Up Mid-Market Sales Opportunities for Authorized Software Resellers

Vendor will pass more leads, adds new certification and boost training for qualified partners.

January 27, 2010

D.H. Kass

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IBM Corp. said that it will redirect certain mid-market sales leads to authorized software resellers, offer a new cloud computing certification and enhance its training portfolio, in moves fueled by the company’s directive to segment its base of software channel partners.

The sales and marketing initiative is tied to IBM’s Software Value Plus plan, launched early last year, to section its 45,000 software resellers based on certification and skill, granting permission only to qualified channel partners to sell a specified list of products, including Tivoli Identity Manager and Websphere Process Server, Cognos and FileNet.

IBM’s open source and Express line of software products are outside of the authorization requirements and can be sold by non-authorized channel partners.

Authorized channel partners immediately will be afforded a trio of benefits mined and framed from the results of a recent study the vendor commissioned on partner profitability, said Sandy Carter, IBM vice president, software group business partners.

Carter said that to date about 11 percent, or 5,000, of its roster of software resellers have achieved certifications to sell the vendor’s lineup of authorized products and, as a result, are qualified to receive mid-market sales leads valued up to $50,000.

“If we did this last year, we would have passed on at least 70,000 qualified leads to our channel partners,” said Carter.

IBM has pledged to track incoming sales leads, assess the skills and knowledge required by the customer and alert qualified, authorized channel partners to appropriate sales opportunities through the vendor’s online channel partner portal.

In addition, the vendor has added a new certification for cloud computing architecture from which authorized channel partners can learn to design public and private cloud-based solutions framed on IBM software.

Resellers that undertake the cloud computing certification will receive a guide that shows them how to structure deals that include cloud technology based on proven IBM business models. The vendor said it also will offer so-called cloud camps for software partners at its Innovation Centers and other locations.

IBM also is opening to authorized software resellers industry-specific training sessions--typically reserved for the vendor’s sales teams--on topics such as industry trends, software industry strategy, brand and cross-brand solutions and its industry frameworks.

“”There are definite benefits to being authorized,” Carter said. “With this new initiative, we are now providing our partners with the same training and resources we provide our IBM sales team.”

Channel profitability study yields actionable results

Much of IBM’s new blueprint for its authorized software resellers sprung from the findings of a global study on channel partner profitability commissioned by the vendor from Ronin Corp., a Princeton, NJ-based researcher.

In data gleaned from the input of 400 channel partners in the U.S., the United Kingdom, China and Japan, 50 percent of IBM’s top-tier software resellers said that cloud computing will be a primary driver of profitability in the next two years. Sixty percent of IBM’s software resellers said that they expect to increase profitability in 2010.

“Our investment areas for 2010 growth are cloud computing, industry transformation, business analytics and green solutions,” Carter said. “We like the model of increasing the skills of our channel partners and preparing them to take on the next level in the marketplace.”

Avnet Technology Solutions, an IBM value-add distributor praised the vendor’s Software Value Plus initiative.

“Our partners are constantly looking for new ways to demonstrate business value to clients and differentiate themselves from the competition,” said Philip Gallagher, Avnet global president.

“IBM's strategy to boost access to sales, marketing and technical skills with initiatives like Software Value Plus can help partners better meet client requirements and improve their profit margins.”

Nicolas Jabbour, chief executive at Prolifics, an IBM business partner, said that IBM’s concentration on skill development will help advance reseller profitability.

“IBM's focus on providing new and relevant skills to software partners complements our core competencies as a systems integrator, and we are now tapping these resources to grow our bottom line,” Jabbour said.

“Clients recognize the value in working with skilled partners to architect and implement solutions that can transform their business,” he said.

TAGS: software,IBM,sales,channel partner,mid-market

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