IBM is increasing the number of sales leads it's passing along to its partners after an analysis of the company's sales data earlier this year found that partners had a higher yield or win rate on sales-lead opportunities.
So far this year IBM already has passed along to partners as many sales leads as it did in all of 2011, said Mark Register, vice president of software business partners and midmarket, within the IBM Software Group, in an interview last week.
Register also said IBM is beginning to reap the benefits of the Solution Accelerator Incentive program it launched at the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in February in an effort to get channel partners to sell more complete hardware/software solutions.
[Related: IBM Raises The Bar For 2012 Channel Sales]
"The strategy's working," Register said, citing feedback from IBM partners about the company's programs for partners, including the Solution Accelerator Incentive effort and the Software Value Plus program that encourages partners to develop skills around IBM software products. More than 5,000 solution providers are now authorized to resell IBM software products under the Software Value Plus program, according to Register.
More than 20 percent -- about "mid-20s," according to Register -- of IBM's software revenue comes from sell-through partner sales, Register said. When taking into account channel influencers, partners who have a hand in software deals that are ultimately done on IBM paper, that number jumps to more than 50 percent.
IBM recently analyzed the win rate for its sales leads. "And [we] found that we had a very strong opportunity to put more pipeline into the hands of partners," Register said. "And the yield would be higher than through other IBM routes." The company found, for example, that the win rate for channel partners in deals below $100,000 was about three or four points higher, Register said.
While Register didn't quantify the increase in sales leads IBM is passing to partners, he said the company was "fairly significantly" increasing the number of leads sent to the channel. "[Partners] tell me they've never seen so much pipeline," he said.
The Solution Accelerator Incentive program is beginning to work in that partners with separate sales teams for computer hardware and software are now selling more complete hardware/software solutions, Register said. "It's a very strong proposition," he said of the incentive. And more partners who have either a hardware or software focus are teaming up with each other to go after deals that call for such solutions, he added.
NEXT: IBM Counts On Channel Partners To Sell, Offers IncentivesIBM is also counting heavily on the channel to sell its new line of PureSystems converged infrastructure servers that launched in April.
Register said that in coming weeks IBM will be "tweaking" the incentives to encourage channel partners to focus on potentially bigger deals to larger customers. The company also may expand the number of product bundles covered under the Solution Accelerator Incentive program.
Channel partners, especially those who sell to mid-market customers, are increasing the number of IBM-branded products they resell, Register said. A solution provider that previously focused on selling IBM Cognos and other business analytics products, for example, may add the vendor's information management products to its offerings. Partners are also selling more IBM products bundled with services, according to Register.