CRN Exclusive: Lenovo Doubling Down On The Channel With New 'Partner Sold Partner Delivered' Services Program

Hot on the heels of significantly boosting incentives for partners that sell services, Lenovo is launching a new program that pays partners upfront to offer and sell Lenovo services under their own brand.

The Partner Sold Partner Delivered program will start life in Lenovo's server business and eventually move into the company's PC business, Lenovo North America channel chief Sammy Kinlaw told CRN at Lenovo's annual Accelerate partner conference in Orlando, Fla., on Monday.

"What matters to partners is they not only want to sell the service, they want to offer the service, and we know that oftentimes when selling services, we compete with our partners. We want to sell it on our paper, they want to sell it on their paper," Kinlaw said.

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Partner Sold Partner Delivered pays partners that provide services like maintenance service or extended warranty services, for example, upfront. When those services are needed, partners have a clear path to providing those services on their paper.

Kinlaw said the program has been a long time in the making, and it's tied directly to Lenovo's desire to transition from life as a traditional hardware firm to a future as a solutions company. Lenovo does about 85 percent of its business through the channel.

"To move the needle in a big way to [becoming] a solutions company that the partner community is friendly with, they have to be able to sell it and they have to be able to service it," Kinlaw said. "The VARs that are the most profitable are following the path that we're heading down ourselves, which is solution-centric. You have to have a network of services."

The program represents Lenovo's first move in the services arena this year -- its fiscal year began April 1 -- and Kinlaw said it'll tie Lenovo, its partners and its customers together in a way that other vendors can't match. "It'll better tie us to a partner community. It doesn't separate them from an end user and it's all tied in a network that's together," Kinlaw said.

Aman Chadha, manager of vendor relations at Whippany, N.J.-based Lenovo partner Stele Corp., said Lenovo has done a good job keeping up with the pace of change in the IT industry and the needs of its partners and customers.

"IT is ever-changing, so you have to have something new all the time," Chadha said. "We need speed, and they're providing you with what you need. My Lenovo customers are happy. Lenovo is simple, easy to work with."

Lenovo has also boosted incentives for partners that sell services from 1.5 percent of services deal revenue to 5 percent, Kinlaw said. Lenovo's server business claimed a 7.4 percent market share in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to research firm IDC. Lenovo acquired IBM's x86 server business in late 2014, and is aggressively pushing the line's price points down.

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Lenovo claims a 21.4 percent share atop the worldwide PC market, where it does battle with Dell and HP.

Kinlaw was unsure how many Lenovo partners would take advantage of the new program in its early days, but he noted that the company's network of authorized warranty service providers totals more than 1,000 in the U.S.
"This is an opportunity the partner community will jump on quickly," Kinlaw said. "Which VAR is not going to want to keep their end users tied to them, and be paid by Lenovo for doing so?"