Lenovo formally took the wraps off a new SMB Partner Advantage program Tuesday at its second annual Accelerate Partner Summit in Las Vegas, which offers new financial incentives to its reseller community working within the small- and medium-sized business space.
The program offers direct cash rewards to sales reps at Lenovo resellers who sell Lenovo products and services specifically to SMB organizations, which the company defines as accounts with 1,000 employees or less. Lenovo’s North American Channel Chief Chris Frey emphasized that the new program does not work on a point-based system. It pays out cash, directly.
"You register, you sell, you get money," he told partners. "That’s how it’s going to work."
Jay Parker, vice president and general manager of the North America Consumer and SMB unit at Lenovo, later expanded on Lenovo’s decision to offer cash rewards, rather than points rewards, in a follow-up interview. Put simply, it was decision based on channel partner feedback.
"We did do the research and found that the clear answer was that ... I mean, would you rather have a vacuum cleaner or a 100 dollar bill?" Parker said.
When asked if he was concerned Lenovo would cut down on its own margins through the deal, he said "we aren’t in a cost-savings mode. We’re in an investing mode."
The new SMB Partner Advantage program falls under the broader Lenovo SPIFF program, which allows resellers to earn up to $10,000 each quarter in cash for selling qualified TopSeller Lenovo systems or services. Partners have the opportunity to earn up to $70 for each sale made.
Qualified TopSeller systems include a range of Lenovo ThinkStation, ThinkServer, ThinkPad and ThinkCentre brands. Earnings through the new SMB Advantage and broader SPIFF program are accrued monthly. All cash rewards are loaded onto a Lenovo Visa pre-paid card account held by participating reseller sales reps.
Parker said that the new program is designed specifically for SMB resellers because it’s a market Lenovo’s internal sales reps don’t reach on their own. All growth in smaller accounts comes almost exclusively from the channel.
"Those channel partners in that room are our sales team," Parker said of the SMB space. "And they need to be incentivized properly to sell."
In addition to the new SMB Advantage program, Lenovo announced this week a series of new ThinkPad, ThinkStation, and ThinkServer products. The latter, it said, will offer partners double the margins they earn on traditional desktop and notebook sales.