Return of deal registration for software
IBM will bring back deal registration for software this year, with a global rollout slated for completion in April. The process will give partners "priority access" to discounts on products and services through the vendor's Special Bid application process.
IBM claims the move will reduce conflict among channel partners and improve their profitability.
Big Blue scrapped deal registration for software two years ago, according to IBM's partner ecosystem director Jamie Mendez. She told CPI that IBM's channel boss John Teltsch made it a priority to bring back deal registration soon after he stepped into the role in July 2017.
IBM is also introducing fixed pricing, or "channel pricing", on software sold through partners, according to Mendez. Partners can still apply for special discounts through IBM's Special Bid process.
Mendez said that setting a fixed price will help drastically reduce the number of Special Bids applications IBM receives from partners, resulting in deals being approved faster.
"We're coming up with channel pricing for partners which we've not had before. I know this sounds crazy and I still don't believe it, but 90 per cent of all pricing requests in 2017 were Special Bids. We didn't have channel pricing," she said.
"Now you get the channel price if you're a registered partner. But if you're trying to put together a competitive offering, you're going to come in and say you've identified an offering, you're adding this value to it and you want a special price from IBM; something better than the channel price. But you have to prove you're doing something different for that price. And you're going to get the first call because you registered that opportunity, described it and proved your value.
"Even with the small changes we've made with the deal registration, Special Bids have gone down by 30 or 40 per cent. We're already moving faster in getting the deals in front of them."
Storage incentives extended into 2019
IBM announced a raft of new storage incentives in April last year, which enabled partner sellers and systems engineers to earn up to $100,000 in stackable rebates. The incentives covered all-flash arrays, Spectrum software and IBM systems deals.
Teltsch announced that IBM will extend the incentives into this year.
"We continue to make progress on our renewals incentives we announced last April. Now the incentives will reward all partners for selling on top. In addition, we will provide additional protection for the incumbent partners on the accounts. I am confident these changes will improve renewals performance across all segments," he said.
Consolidation of partner tools into My PartnerWorld
Several partner tools, including My Sales Activity (MySA), PartnerWorld Console, Co-marketing Center and Business Partner Connect platform will be consolidated under one platform called MyPartnerWorld as of 15 February.
Teltsch said the move was part of IBM's strategy to "enrich the partner experience".
MySA booked $14bn in partner revenues in 2018, according to Teltsch. He also revealed that IBM onboarded 13,000 net new partners into its ecosystem last year.
"We know that partner engagement is essential to deliver new capabilities and drive new client outcomes in 2019. So we migrated multiple tools to My Sales Activity; a single front door to manage your IBM business. MySA is now globally deployed and in 2018 alone you all created 84,000 opportunities, driven by $14bn in IBM revenue. So thank you for that," he said.
Simpler MDF process
IBM has sought to make it easier for partners to secure marketing development funds, through the relaunch of its co-marketing programme.
Teltsch claims IBM has trimmed down its co-marketing contract from an 18-page to a four-page document.
"As you transform your businesses for growth, speed means everything. The 2019 programme provides a core set of offerings plus a new set of offerings to support a new generation of business models," he said.
Access to IBM's own internal training tools
IBM's internal sales enablement and training systems from every strand of the business have been consolidated under a single platform, run by Seismic, and made available to partners for the first time.
Teltsch described the initiative as a "game changer" in enabling partners to reskill their workforces around every facet of the IBM business.
"We have a 37-year-old channel that started in hardware, and high volume and PCs and now it has morphed from a volume to a value perspective. Our focus really is driving more value, skills and competencies, which I think every SVP on stage today spoke about," he said during a Q&A with members of the press.
"Every brand has their own internal enablement capabilities, so in IBM we had 15 or 16 enablement systems - power, storage, IoT, security - and our partners didn't have access to it. So IBM had all this training, and we weren't giving the same training to partners. We've been on a path for about a year and we finally signed an agreement in December with Seismic who are going to be the single platform for the whole company."
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