Samsung Gives Partner Program Major Overhaul


Samsung updated its partner program Tuesday, adding a bevy of new incentives for top tier partners, a revamped partner website, and big increases in sales performance incentive funds.

The program overhaul, called Samsung Team of Empowered Partners (STEP), is the company’s biggest update since Samsung Electronics America established a partner program in 2004, said Richard Hutton, director of channel marketing at Samsung’s Enterprise Business Division.

Samsung partners say the program revamp was needed in order to stay competitive with a changing IT landscape that includes increased competition from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. Those companies, partners say, have been muscling into Samsung’s turf with Chromebooks, tablets and mobile services that have forced Samsung to drive down prices and reduce margins for resellers.

“Over the last several years Samsung has increased its product portfolio and enjoyed enormous success in the enterprise,” said Hutton. “Changes to Samsung’s partner program, for the first time, recognize our strength in the enterprise and incent partners to sell more complimentary IT solutions deeper into to the enterprise.”

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Hutton said the most significant addition to the partner program is the rollout of a four-tier global partner platform. The platform includes the partner portal, which is equipped with tools for deal registrations and for the first time has transactional capabilities allowing partners to request marketing development funds, backend rebates, and the purchase demo equipment.

Samsung’s four new tiers include Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Entry Level. “For the first time we are formalizing our top level partnerships giving them a predictable program to grow their business,” Hutton said. 

Hutton said Samsung’s new Platinum tier includes a rebate program, volume discounts, dedicated sales resources, demo equipment and marketing development funds. Gold partners also have access to a number of back end rebates and access to inside sales support. Silver partners have access to inside sales and pre-sales support along with access to engineering product specialists.

The program changes will begin to be phased in starting April 7 for Samsung’s 13,000 U.S. partners. Samsung said the revamp is designed to drive sales of its tablets, PCs (including Chromebooks), Samsung branded solid state memory, its Tera2 Zero Client virtualized desktop products, monitors, print solutions, and digital signage products. 

“Apple, Lenovo and you name it are now giving Samsung serious competition in the enterprise and in education,” said Ira Grossman, CTO of end user and mobile computing for MCPc, a nationwide Samsung partner specializing in mobile solutions. “Samsung needed to up its game now that most major OEMs have Chromebooks, tablet and complimentary mobile services.”

Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westboro, Mass.-based partner of Samsung, said he welcomes the channel program update. “Up until now Chromebooks have been outside the Samsung partner program. By making Chromebooks a part of the Samsung partner program that gives us clear and set rules for volume incentives and back-end rebates previously agreed to on an ad-hoc basis.”

PUBLISHED APRIL 1, 2014