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System X, Lenovo partner channels merge under One Channel strategy

Lenovo has followed through on its promise to integrate Lenovo and System X channels. Learn about the changes made as a result of the One Lenovo, One Channel strategy.

As promised five months ago, Lenovo this month announced the full integration of its Lenovo and System X channels.

The vendor's One Lenovo, One Channel strategy spans its sales coverage model, Lenovo partner programs, distribution model, portfolio and vision for the company. The merging of the two distinct vendor programs comes six months after Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's System X business and impacts partners worldwide. Lenovo has 30,000 partners in North America, according to the company.

For starters, Lenovo integrated its internal sales teams and promoted Chris Frey , previously Lenovo North American channel chief, to head up both the channel and commercial business. Sammy Kinlaw stepped up to become Lenovo's North American channel chief. He reports to Frey.

"The one-sales coverage model is important. It's how we're reaching our end users and our partners," Kinlaw said.

Lenovo integrated all of its sales and channel teams into one team. This team is responsible for PCs, tablets and servers -- ThinkServers and System X -- and the team is incented for all PCs and servers. This new integrated team includes Lenovo sales reps, field sales reps and a technical sales team that was acquired with the System X purchase. The technical sales team focuses on complex opportunities within the x86 market.

"There are resources aligned to the channel that IBM had when we acquired them. They're highly skilled sales reps. And now they're integrated into our channel team. They're another resource for our partners to help them close System X business," said Kinlaw.

The sales coverage model includes distribution, large value-added partners and Lenovo's network of channel partners.

The rollout of more predictable and simple Lenovo partner programs spells out for all partners how they can make money with Lenovo. "We moved away from a Lenovo and an IBM stack of programs to a One Channel group of programs," said Kinlaw.

Some key programs include a new customer bonus program, one of the oldest Lenovo partner programs that rewards partners for bringing in new customer business. When approved by Lenovo, partners can earn up to a 15% rebate on ThinkServer and System X products and up to a 5% rebate on Topseller Think and Consumer products. Formerly, System X new business rebates were 9%, according to Kinlaw.

Also, as of April 1, authorized Lenovo Business Partners who purchased Client Topseller Systems from authorized Lenovo distributors are eligible to receive up to 2.5% rebates on all purchases. Additionally, Lenovo Business Partners who purchase Enterprise Systems Group systems, options, services and storage products can receive 2.5% in rebates.

Kinlaw also explained that Lenovo has moved from target-based programs to accrual-based programs when selling System X. "This is so partners have easy line-of-sight knowledge as to how much money they can make when they sell our products," he said.

Authorized Lenovo Business Partners are now eligible to receive up to 50% off on qualifying purchases -- desktops, notebooks, workstations, storage systems and enterprise options -- from distribution that can be used for demonstration, seed units or internal use.

Lenovo's One Distribution model provides partners with a single route for purchases, financing and warranty across all of the vendor's products. Lenovo distributors include Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex, D&H, ASI, Arrow and Avnet.

Finally, Lenovo has consolidated its portfolio of products.

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