Samsung Launches Revamped Partner Program

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Samsung on Monday unveiled a redesigned Power Partner program featuring a completely new channel infrastructure and 30 new field reps to help solution providers generate demand.

The ambitious program realigns Samsung's internal infrastructure to better support the channel, said Christopher Franey, vice president of marketing and commercial sales at Samsung, speaking at an event at the huge Samsung Experience showroom in New York's Time Warner building.

Franey, who joined Samsung last July after a 12-year career at ViewSonic, said the new field reps will mean more "bi-directional" joint sales engagements between partners and Samsung reps.

"This is a significant investment," said Franey. "It's a huge breakthrough. It has meat on the stick. Most channel programs are wallpaper and window dressing. We remodeled the entire channel house. We've put in place a completely new channel infrastructure, we've redesigned our portal for partners and realigned people to go with it."

The program covers Samsung Information Technology Division's stable of displays, printers and ultra-mobile systems.

As part of the new multimillion dollar effort, Franey said Samsung is recruiting new solution providers from competitors.

One significant change is the new program features three tiers, where there was one before.

The silver level requires VARs to sell a minimum of $50,000 in Samsung product on a rolling 12-month basis. Those VARs get access to a named field sales rep, demo program and a dedicated in-bound inside sales rep.

The gold level ups the anti to $150,000 in rolling 12-month revenue. The program provides those partners with MDFs, priority authorized service provider certification and administrator access to MDF accrual.

And finally to achieve the platinum level, VARs must sell $500,000 in Samsung products on rolling 12-month basis. Partners in this elite tier will get quarterly volume incentive rebates, priority roadmap access, a seat on the reseller council, special premium pricing and priority field sales rep support.

The new program also includes for the first time an authorized service provider initiative aimed at opening up new revenue opportunities for VARs.

Ken Ye, president of Access Micro Corp., a Lake Forest, Calif., solution provider, said the service initiative represents a potential "cash-cow" opportunity for VARs. "Service is where the money is. That profit stream for service certification didn't exist before," he said.

Ye also said the new Power Partner Program represents a marked improvement over the old Samsung program. "This program is much better than the previous one," he said. "It's very detailed. That is the way we like it so we can put our effort into selling versus guessing (about program benefits).

One goal is to up Samsung's mind and market share among the largest VARs. Richard Hutton, senior channel marketing manager, said the company hopes to increase by 30 percent the number of solution providers selling more than $500,000 of product annually. He also hopes to boost partners at the gold level by 40 percent and the silver level by 50 percent.

Samsung execs would not share the current number of active resellers, but Franey said under the old channel program Samsung was underrepresented among larger solution providers by a third when stacked up against competitors.

In the large VAR space "we underperformed," he noted. Eight percent of its VARs were in the large volume category compared with 24 percent for its competitors. The old program also had 60 percent of partners falling into the small revenue category.

Changing these numbers means big things for Samsung and its partners.

"This makes us extremely competitive," said Franey, predicting that resellers and solution providers will find this a very competitive program. "I have no problem stacking this up against anyone in the industry," he said.

Franey said the improvements came about after he and his team interviewed more than 100 partners regarding channel best practices.

The new program features beefed up demos and an enhanced loyalty program. For example, the loyalty program features a Visa debit card that reduces the time it takes to get rebates from 10 weeks to 10 days, said Franey.

"What good is a SPIF or a reward, if you never get the check?" he asked.

The program also features a new channel marketing team comprising eight employees . Franey said 100 percent of Samsung's Information Technology Division sales go through the channel.

Franey pledged a level pricing playing field between VARs, direct marketers and e-tailers—all of whom source Samsung products from distribution.

"It sounds like a good program," said Carl Palmieri, CEO of Computer Resolutions, Shelton, Conn., a solution provider which has done very little business with Samsung. "We'll definitely take a look at this."

Updated Monday afternoon with detail on the program's three tiers.

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