IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lenovo Data Center Program: Simplicity by Design

[Sponsored] The Lenovo Data Center Program is a new partner program built from the ground up to be simple, predictable, and consistent.

By Lenovo and ChannelPro

When Lenovo first acquired IBM's System x server business eight quarters ago, the Morrisville, N.C., computer company initially pursued a familiar go-to-market strategy. "Any partner that was authorized could sell Lenovo servers, much like in our PC heritage," recalls Sammy Kinlaw, Lenovo's North American channel chief. Yet as Lenovo became more entrenched in the server business, the company recognized that a new approach was needed, one that would benefit end users and partners alike.

When it comes to servers, "end users want to understand that whomever they are purchasing critical infrastructure from, it is a partner that is validated and vetted by the vendor," Kinlaw explains. And for their part, partners want access to reliable server products, certifications and training that promote growth and solidify credibility in the marketplace.

As a relative newcomer in the server business, "we had the opportunity to create from scratch whatever we wanted," Kinlaw says. After looking at the partner program offerings in the market and identifying best-of-breed practices, Lenovo concluded that navigating many programs was a convoluted process. "We wanted to create a program that was linear so that we could tell the partners that if you do X we'll give you Y," Kinlaw says.

Enter the Lenovo Data Center Program, a new partner program built from the ground up to be simple, predictable, and consistent.

Three Designations and Clear Revenue Goals

That simplicity begins with three levels of partnership defined by straightforward revenue levels and certification requirements. For existing Lenovo partners, qualifications for each level—and associated benefits—are clear cut and easy to follow, and are based on business results they achieved from April 2016 to March 2017.

The Three New Levels:

Silver: Baseline partners who are authorized to sell Lenovo data center products. These partners have benefits designed to both reward them and encourage them to move up the stack. Special bid pricing, spiffs, base rebates on all data center products, deal registration, online sales and technical training, and access to new customer bonuses are among the benefits available to Silver Partners.

Gold: These partners have hit revenues of $3 million and maintain five certifications that can consist of a combination of sales and technical sales. In addition to the benefits available to Silver Partners, Gold Partners have access to named channel account managers and are eligible for quarterly target incentives.

Platinum: Partners who have achieved $10 million in data center revenue and maintain a combination of at least eight sales and technical sales Lenovo certifications are designated as Platinum Partners. To reward loyalty and provide further incentives, Lenovo provides Platinum Partners with dedicated channel account managers, significant partner development funds and quarterly, semi-annual and annual target incentives.

Three levels of partnership and clear directives for moving up to the next level—the Lenovo Data Center Program can't get much easier to understand. In another significant nod to simplicity, the Lenovo Data Center Program does not exclude any products or require partners to sell more of one product than another. "If you look at our server platform today, anything within our System x or ThinkServer product lines qualifies," Kinlaw adds.

Rewarding Loyalty

As Kinlaw explains it, the motivation behind the design of the Lenovo Data Center Program is to recognize and reward the highest-selling Data Center Partners. The end goal is to engage partners in a mutually beneficially relationship where loyalty leads to growth. "Lenovo has really built our success from the value-added reseller community," Kinlaw says. "We're interested and engaged in providing small to midsized partners access to our products and our training, with the intent that they can learn more and sell more and Lenovo becomes their preferred go-to-market line for the data center."

To further this end, Lenovo provides Data Center Partners with dedicated technical consultants and solutions architects for both pre-sales and ongoing support. In addition, partners have access to earned marketing development funds and quarterly campaign planning involving Lenovo field marketing support. Lenovo executives will work with partners to review and plan for market conditions and discuss solutions roadmaps. And all partners are eligible for base rebates plus accelerated payouts based on growth, acquisition of new logos, and selling complex solutions.

All told, the Lenovo Data Center Program is designed to specifically help partners increase their revenues and grow their business. Don't expect to find complex rules, pages of qualifications and ever-changing requirements. Instead, Lenovo opted for clarity. When describing the Lenovo Data Center Program, its qualifications and its benefits, Kinlaw sums it up succinctly: "I am not oversimplifying. It's just a simple program."

For more information on the Lenovo Data Center Program, visit lenovopartnernetwork.com/tiering »