Lenovo Preps SMB Rewards Program, New Server Line


Lenovo plans to take the wraps off several channel initiatives next week at its Accelerate Partner Summit in Las Vegas, including a new SMB partner rewards program and its expansion into the one- and two-way server space. The latter, Lenovo said, will offer some of the highest partner payouts in its channel history.

In a pre-event interview Wednesday with CRN, Lenovo Vice President of North America Commercial Channels Chris Frey said that the company, which is the world's second largest PC maker after Hewlett-Packard, has more dollars available to channel partners today than ever before. And many of those dollars, starting next week with the launch of a new partner rewards program, will land in the lap of solution providers selling specifically into the SMB space.

"We are going to announce a program next week, and it's part of a big launch, that will reward the owner of the VAR and will reward the salesperson inside the VAR for reselling our products," Frey said of the new SMB initiative. "It's not a redemption program, it's not a points program, it's truly a monetary reward."

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The rewards program will apply to all Lenovo partners that resell a majority of the company's products into the SMB space, Frey said. The reward amounts will vary based on the type and volume of Lenovo systems being sold, he added.

Lenovo's decision to make the new rewards program exclusive to SMB resellers was based on its larger sales structure, Frey continued. The company relies on a robust network of internal sales reps, which often join forces with channel partners, to sell to Lenovo's larger customer accounts. These teams rarely reach out to smaller accounts, however, so resellers are relied on to fill this gap.

"For SMBs, I have no end-user reps; all I have is the channel," Frey said. "And I should pay the people that are doing the selling for me."

In addition to a new SMB program, Lenovo next week will detail plans to grow its product line in the low-end server market. Lenovo has had a presence in the server space since 2008 with its ThinkServer line of towers. But, as part of a larger effort to broaden its footprint in non-PC markets, the company will unveil at the Summit a new set of server products, along with a revamped partner program to support them.

Lenovo specifically will target the one-way and two-way server business, Frey said. "We believe you have to earn the right on the low-end [server market] before you can move up into the data center," he said.

Partners, he continued, have long requested the launch of a more robust server portfolio, as it would arm them with the final puzzle piece to construct a "full-fledged" Lenovo solution for clients.

Lenovo's new server partner program will pay out about twice as much as its client programs do today, added Frey.

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