The move is part of a continuing evolution of the channel program Lenovo inherited from IBM when the company acquired IBMs PC business in December of 2004.
"We used to be part of IBM Partner World, and now we are Lenovo Partner Network," said Steve Mungall, vice president of channel sales at Lenovo. "We now have a better PRN tool to manage our partner relationships. We sell more to the channel now than when this business segment was part of IBM."
Lenovos new channel partner communities plan is designed to provide more focused support for channel partners rather than the one-size-fits-all approach to market development funds, internal sales support and other program components.
Lenovo will align the channel program this summer around the communities of large enterprise, mid market, public sector and small and midsize businesses. Lenovo partners are invited to join all communities that apply, according to Mungall.
"Over the last year, we have defined how we cover the market," he said, explaining the logic behind how Lenovo determined how to define the four communities. "This new alignment provides the tools and resources necessary for partners to grow their businesses. We build a marketing plan with them. They get a Lenovo sales specialist."
In addition, Mungall said, market development funds will now be more focused as a result of the new communities.
"This ensures that the funding being used is really focused on getting a return," he said. "We dont dilute the tools across numerous partners that might not be as interested in growing their business or Lenovos business at the end of the day."
Partners who join Lenovo communities will get access to some additional incentives as well. For example, community partners receive a list of prospects that they subsequently can turn into leads. The communities program also offers a deal-certification component, or deal registration, that lets them protect a deal from others.
Each community will be led by a Lenovo executive who will host a quarterly conference call with partners to update them on Lenovos product road map and other news.
Partners who are interested in participating in the Lenovo communities partner program must meet certain criteria in terms of segment revenue, skill levels, plus a commitment to Lenovo.
"This will clearly focus proactively the partners who really want to grow their Lenovo business," Mungall said. "That is not to say we wont continue to support other partners. They will still have access to good pricing."
But the community partners will have access to the marketing funds, new customer acquisition program, additional demo units and quarterly calls with segment owners, he said.