Toshiba Revamps Partner Program

The Preferred Partner Program, which started a year ago this month, has more than 3,500 members and accounts for more than 50 percent of the company's channel business, said Patrick Mani, vice president of sales.

A big change in the program is that Toshiba is encouraging sales of its Tecra and Portege brands through the channel and focusing less on its Satellite brand, said Mani.

The Tecra and Portege brands have a guaranteed life cycle of nine months, and the company hopes to expand that to 12 to 16 months, Mani said. This compares with the three-month to six-month life cycle of the Satellite brand, which is aimed at end users. "[But] we will continue to offer Satellites to the channel," he said. "There are small and midsize businesses who are not concerned about longer life cycles."

In addition, a loyalty program is now in effect under which the company rewards individual sales reps within a solution provider with points on every Tecra and Portege sold. Those points are good for purchasing products from a Toshiba catalog, said Mani.

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Solution provider rebates of 3 percent for some partners for sales of Tecra and Portege models, along with Toshiba accessories, will continue, said Mani. Toshiba considered dropping the 1 percent rebate it offered for sales of Satellite notebooks, but the vendor ultimately decided not to do so.

"We don't want to discourage any sales [of Satellites through the channel]," said Mani. "But we want Toshiba and its partners to sell what product is best for the channel."

The company is also offering tiered rewards in its Preferred Partner Program, Mani said. Silver-level solution providers get the loyalty program. Gold-level partners, who commit to selling $100,000 worth of Toshiba product every six months, also qualify for the rebates. Platinum-level partners, who commit to sales of $250,000 every six months, also qualify for market development funds, he said.