Lenovo Goes After 10,000 Accounts With New Partner-Centric March

Backed by one of the industry’s broadest technology portfolios, the new initiative is part of an overall strategy to have Lenovo and its partners attack a larger and broader customer base.

It’s hunting season at Lenovo. The company’s Data Center Group is rolling out a 90-day “license to hunt” initiative that will see Lenovo and its partners jointly attacking 10,000 named accounts across North America.

Lenovo is providing customer account and management resources as well as presales and field sales personnel to the channel in what Kevin Hooper, president of North America for Lenovo’s Data Center Group, calls a “complete 180” sales motion.

“So instead of a channel partner coming to me with a refresh opportunity, for example, I wanted to reach out proactively to channel partners and say, ‘Let’s go bring value together,’” said Hooper. “We are going to take a set of named accounts, names of customers that have done business with us over the last few years, and we’re going to proactively reach out and engage directly with a select list of channel partners to say, ‘Hey, look, let’s go play in these accounts for 90 days. Let’s go try to formulate an attack strategy typically around [artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, IoT, virtual desktop infrastructure and DevOps] to go have some very targeted conversations with those customers. Let’s see if we can’t solve some business problems with them together.’”

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The 10,000 targeted customers are in Canada and the U.S. in accounts that Lenovo feels are underpenetrated and wants to gain a larger share. Partners who participate will receive preferential pricing and deal protection for a 90-day period. The 90-day period begins with Lenovo sitting down with a partner to review its strengths and forming a joint strategy around the customer. Lenovo reps will then go into the customer hand in hand with the partner to try and win more account share.

“We don’t want to do anything as silly as just throwing out a bunch of account names. We want to be targeted, sit down regionally with our partners in a room and decide on a game plan,” said Hooper. “The game plan will, however, have this element of being curious about our customers’ businesses and having options about particular problems in the marketplace that CIOs and customers are dealing with.”

Drew Cavadias, vice president of sales for Venture System Source (VSS), a Madison, Miss.-based Lenovo partner, said Lenovo creating a joint game plan with partners can only help VSS’ chances of winning new or larger deals.

“For Lenovo to say, ‘Hey, listen, I’m going to go into these accounts that don’t have a heavy Lenovo spend, sit down and find out how we can accomplish changing that’—that will help. That’s a very great idea,” said Cavadias. Cavadias said the initiative shows that Lenovo is amplifying its partner focus. “It shows that there’s a unified front and provides good chemistry,” he said. “It shows that they’re focused on driving not only new Lenovo business, but also showing the customer that they are a valued partner and they care about their partnership with the client.”

Hooper, who joined Lenovo in February and brings more than two decades of executive and channel leadership experience from IBM, NEC and Hewlett-Packard, said the 90-day initiative is part of his overall strategy to have Lenovo and partners attack a larger and broader customer base. With the backing of one of the industry’s broadest technology portfolios, Hooper is confident that a more aggressive channel-first sales onslaught will help Lenovo gain share across a variety of market segments.

“Lenovo needs to show up in more places with more customers. We cover a significant number of solutions, but I’m particularly interested in artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, IoT, VDI and DevOps. These are the types of conversations that my customers’ CIOs are having with anyone that can provide some value to help them solve their business problems,” said Hooper.

“I have a very specific message: Lenovo’s been a good partner, but we’ve been a targeted partner around a specific set of accounts,” he said. “I’m looking to expand that out by unstacking my resources, having significantly more conversations with channel partners around accounts and how we can jointly bring value from their services portfolio augmented with our services portfolio and all of our solutions to specific customers... We have a vision and a strategy of intelligent transformation, of being the most trusted data center partner in the industry. That trust starts with being able to roll up your sleeves and engage with channel partners in real time.