SMB Focus: Lenovo, D&H Deal Shows Value of Targeted Offerings

It takes the right blend of product, price, features and support to attract the interest of the oft finicky, less tech-savvy users in the lower tier of the market.

What makes for a solid fit in the enterprise often leaves your SMB customers wanting. So when gearing up for the SMB sale, keep in mind that everything—from the fundamental use of the PC to the onboard system tools required—will be unique to your small-business user.

Such awareness is increasingly important as sales in the low-end business space buoy an otherwise sluggish sector. Both IDC and Gartner predict robust notebook sales in the SMB market, despite an overall decline in PC sales through next year.

So what makes the SMB market so different from its enterprise counterpart? And how can a reseller capitalize?

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According to VARBusiness' exclusive Market Insight survey of end users, 10 percent of midsize firms have no IT department at all. And even among those that do have IT staff, one-third still rely on third-party technology partners, in whole or in part, to manage their technology needs. That reliance on outside help is a result of heavy workloads: Nearly half of IT administrators in midsize firms have both technical and nontechnical responsibilities.

Compare that to the 99 percent of enterprises that say they have IT staff—and that the majority of those admins are focused only on technology—and it's easy to see why SMB users need the most help with administration and support. A whopping 57 percent of midsize users surveyed by VARBusiness say they look to solution providers to deliver technical expertise, soundly trumping their concerns about cost.

Spotlighting such concerns, Lenovo and D&H Distributing this morning announced a product and distribution partnership that blends product, tools, service and support for the SMB customer. Lenovo is looking to make a strong push into the SMB space with the D&H agreement to distribute its newest line of laptops and desktops through the SMB specialist.

"To target the SMB space, the reseller community needs a trusted adviser, from both a product and a communications standpoint. Many smaller VARs have a hard time getting mind share from suppliers, so they rely on partners like D&H not just for product acquisition but also for product positioning and guidance on creating end-user solutions," says Michael Schwab, vice president of purchasing at D&H Distributing. To meet this need, he says, "D&H sales reps will proactively sell the benefits of Lenovo, including its partner program. Our resellers look to us to identify the right vendor partners for them to merchandise. In many ways, the fact that D&H will be driving Lenovo products to our customers validates Lenovo's commitment to the SMB channel."

The pair is featuring the new Lenovo 3000 V100 notebook and J100 desktop, both solid value offerings for SMB customers. But in an effort to deliver what Lenovo officials say is "worry-free" computing for smaller users looking to grow their businesses, the machines come with administrative features such as One- Button System Recovery, Performance Restoration, Automatic Updates for virus protection, and Simple Network Connectivity and Management Software.

The two companies announced their partnership at CMP Technology's xChange conference in St. Louis today. Also in this month, Lenovo will its new SMB-targeted wares at D&H's New England Technology Trade Show.

"With relatively small technology staffs and budgets, and rapid technology advances, SMBs have less margin for error and require reliable IT products that are easy to use and maintain," says Stephen Mungall, vice president of channels and transaction sales strategy at Lenovo. "The agreement with D&H will help increase Lenovo's presence with SMB customers by leveraging D&H's long-held expertise in this space.

"Adding D&H as a distributor will help us better reach the SMB customers where they buy product and increase our relationships with SMB resellers," Mungall adds.

Lenovo products are now stocked and available at the distributor, D&H execs say.

Read more articles based on findings from the VARBusiness Market Insight Report.