Lenovo is opening a new channel sales centre dedicated to helping its smaller partners as it looks to beef up support for SMB and mid-market resellers.
The Lenovo Channel Sales Centre (LCSC) in Hook will be home to 15 staff tasked with better supporting its lower-level, smaller partners, and will open before the end of next week.
Phil Oldham, director of business and product management at Lenovo UK, told CRN that the new base reflects the vendor's aims to become easier to work with.
"We are very, very much focused on working through the channel," he said. "More than 95 per cent of our business is through the channel, and we're probably the most channel-friendly vendor out there.
"We have teams who look after our Gold and Premium partners, but we're conscious we want to build a relationship with our smaller partners as well. So we've got the new team in place, coming on board this week, and they're going to really focus on facilitating that business with those smaller resellers. That's a key direction for our growth.
"We're also investing in the mid-market. We've got a 20-strong team of inside sales staff. Historically it's been very PC [focused], but it's datacentre as well now. And we're seeing strong signs of success."
Lenovo claims to have a 35 per cent UK market share in the B2B market. Oldham added that a wave of new products coming out soon partly inspired the decision to focus on smaller partners.
"We are very keen to build those relationships with all partners," he said. "We've got a much wider product portfolio than we've seen before. We're already number one in the B2B market in the UK channel. But we want to keep growing. This year, our target is to grow 20 per cent in revenue across the UK. Of course, to achieve that, we need to grow share and broaden our breadth of partners across the UK."
Shaune Parsons, managing director of Lenovo Gold partner Computerworld Wales, told CRN that Lenovo is a good vendor to work with and cautiously welcomed its decision to boost support for smaller partners.
"It is very hard for a small business partner to compete, especially if they don't know their way around special bids and everything like that," he said. "Competition is always good, but the fewer partners there are, the better it is for us!"
Rivalry heating up
Last November, HP split into two, claiming its printer and PC arm HP Inc would be more focused than ever on winning share.
Oldham admitted that competition has increased in the market, but insisted Lenovo is holding its own.
"I wouldn't want to comment on what HP are up to, but obviously at Lenovo we're keen on remaining competitive in the market," he said.
"The market has become more competitive over the last quarter and we've seen a real drive in terms of the level of aggressiveness of some of our competitors.
"But it's a good testament to Lenovo and our product portfolio that we've managed to get to number one in the B2B market and we're strong leaders, particularly in notebooks. We've been number one in the notebook market for three of the last four months, so we're seeing people really gravitate towards our notebook products."
Computerworld Wales' Parsons (pictured, below) said although rivalry between HP and Lenovo is fierce, some customers won't budge either way.
"We're very Lenovo-centric in that we are a Gold partner and we're also a warranty provider," he said. "We work very closely with the guys at Lenovo. If someone rings up for an HP, we do the old-fashioned thing that they used to call selling! We try and sell them an equivalent Lenovo instead, rather than bending over and say ‘oh yes, here's an HP'. We're a bit of an oddball, if you like, because we are an SMB which punches above our weight.
"We have a mix of customers and we work with HP as well, don't get me wrong. We do a bit of Dell too, but not a lot. I've got certain customers who buy HP and I can talk to them until the cows come home about Lenovo, but they're not going to buy it. It's HP and that's it. But I've got a lot of customers who will only buy Lenovo and won't look at HP. We have a good mix of customers."
He added that Lenovo often has the edge on HP when it comes to pricing.
"The only thing with HP is that the pricing is not too consistent," he said. "They put offers on products for a month, but a customer might take six weeks to make their mind up. Those offers have then gone and the prices have gone up and the offers are on something else. At least with Lenovo, if we do special bids, they last for three months."
Alex Kaye, UK managing director of Lenovo partner Zones said: "We have a very strong relationship with Lenovo and it's certainly a strong partnership that's working very well for us as a global business. Our relationship continues to evolve. As to what they're doing with other partners, I'm sure there's a sound strategy behind it."
Chief exec Jens Montanana claims Logicalis performed well despite 'currency headwinds'
All the photos from last night's event, which saw over 600 people congregate at the Hilton London Bankside
Five year deal with Essex NHS Trust will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices
18 individuals and three companies walked away as winners at CRN's inaugural Women in Channel Awards last night