Techaisle's channel partner research shows a top tier of four must-have vendor attributes to pursue new partner relationships and build on existing ones. These are 1/ease of doing business, 2/ technical support, 3/ competitive pricing, and 4/ well-designed partner programs/partner portals. Each of these elements is considered necessary by 40% or more of channel decision-makers.
Lenovo is addressing each of the attributes. For example, at the center of its partner program transformation under One Lenovo and Lenovo 360 (partner program framework) is its Lenovo Partner Hub, undergoing continuous enhancements since its introduction in 2020. Its most recent improvements integrate managed services to product sales. Partners love the enhanced partner portal because of its simplicity of layout, ability to serve contextual information quickly, easy navigation, and enabling partners to add services components in customer bids effortlessly. It is a one-stop-shop for everything services – training, marketing, and deliverables.
For example, Lenovo's Premier Support and Deployment offerings are well-integrated into the Lenovo Partner Hub. Every asset – case studies, white papers, product catalog, brochures, flyers, presentations – that are partner-centric are available. And each partner can easily include the relevant assets in the price quotes as part of their customer communications. Integration of services in the portal is advantageous to the channel partners because partners can efficiently bundle product sales with services. "Grow services revenue" has been a mantra in the channel because services offer much richer gross margins than products. They offer an income stream independent of product prices and razor-thin margins on the revenue equation's product side. With the rise in flexible work and unexpected increases in PC sales, remote support is challenging most organizations. They seek external support services to augment the lack of their internal resources. An essential first step in achieving optimal outcomes from a PC support contract is building an understanding of how a supplier can best support business and technical objectives. The Lenovo Partner Hub reduces friction in interactions and provides rich information and pricing options to help partners and their customers make informed decisions.
As businesses continue to migrate toward an everything-as-a-service consumption model, "Lenovo 360" enables partners to grow their business through expanded access to end-to-end solutions and services. Therefore, in addition to Premier support services, Lenovo Partner Hub includes several services solutions. For example, Lenovo TruScale (Everything-as-a-Service), Security offerings, Asset Recovery Services (ARS) are fully integrated in terms of messaging and dedicated solution pages. In addition, at the bottom of each page, there is a rotating carousel of supporting assets to accelerate partners' go-to-market initiatives.
Partners love the carousel approach and the asset builder feature because together, they allow a partner to create a customer-friendly brochure or flyer or datasheet and embed them in an email. This informative email helps educate the customers on the services and associated pricing a partner can provide. The flexibility of starting point is an inherent positive quality of the bid request process. Ideally, partners should begin their bid request from a product perspective, but they are not constrained. Instead, they could create bids and add products to the mix, starting with services. The partner experience is precisely the same. The value from an end-user perspective is that Lenovo and its partners guarantee that customers will buy the right service (or its variations) for the right product. It also simplifies the experience from the customer's perspective. Instead of presenting them with several combinations that they could purchase, Lenovo keeps it simple, with good, better, and best.
Techaisle's research shows that several factors drive partner enablement success and engagement strategy, including distributor support and training. It is important to note that Lenovo has launched digital catalogs for its distributors. The content syndication is universally consistent and creates the same recommendations as the partner hub.
Lenovo has a roadmap of trainings that will be carefully categorized into areas that fit together. For example, Lenovo will organize support and protection into one group, including close-to-the-box support services, protection services, and renewals. In addition, software and cloud will likely fit into learning paths. Other examples, such as configuration and deployment services and Lenovo TruScale, may be grouped under managed services. Lenovo is creating five different learning paths, giving engagement flexibility and choice to the partner. All of them will be available through the partner hub.
The partner hub has five areas with pre-defined quick links – Deal registration, Bid requests, Product Ordering, Asset Library, and myPitch. The quick links get updated with the use and memorization of frequently used tasks. There are also groupings for sales, products, services, solutions, marketing, and training. In addition, an easy-to-use tool is available for contact and lead management. Further, there are also persona-based (Sales rep, Sales manager, Marketing and Admin) dashboards and quick links.
Designed and developed internally at Lenovo, five different portals combined into one platform with an agile approach rolling out new changes every day. Lenovo's advantage is that it does not have to rely on nor negotiate with third-party partner platforms for customizations, unnecessarily prolonging the partner empowerment approach.
Lenovo Partner Hub adeptly ties to both types of channel partner emphasis – technical value-add (focused on complex services solutions) and logistical value-add (focused on transaction-oriented customers) – and to different product and attached services solution categories. It also addresses relationship management/mechanics issues such as account management, training, lead generation, and deal registration.
I see at least two partner portals a month. Lenovo Partner Hub by far outcompetes the market in more ways than one. Lenovo 360 is at full display in the portal. PCs, tablets, accessories, servers, workstations, storage, and associated services are all available for the partners to build a complete shopping list for the customers. It also includes inventory availability from the distributor, out-of-stock items, and approximate shipping dates. Partners can also create special bids, show or hide pricing and include or exclude assets. So the customers are not just getting a list of part numbers; instead, they are receiving an experience that allows them to understand what the partners will provide them.
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