IBM has announced that it is expanding resources to help application software companies generate leads and close sales.
The new initiative will automate and simplify the process for independent software vendors (ISV's) to become IBM business partners, IBM said.
"We are opening up to a much greater number of ISVs the ability to qualify for some of our most valuable offerings and benefits," said Scott Hebner, IBM's vice-president of marketing and strategy for ISV and developer relations.
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"We are expanding the number of ISVs from 500 around the world into the thousands that can now gain financial support for co-marketing to generate leads and to get access to our sales team to help close business," Hebner said.
That means IBM can provide significant discounts in co-marketing tactics that the ISVs would otherwise have to find themselves.
"For example, IBM business partners can take advantage of the up to 70% discounts in advertisements in trade magazines because IBM has been able to prenegotiate volume discounts because we do so much advertising," Hebner said.
"We are able to pass that on to our top tier ISVs. And if you add all programmes up, it is a pretty significant savings in executing a marketing campaign."
Hebner said IBM's sales team can also help generate sales leads and then help them close the deal.
"We have a new programme, Sales Connections, that allows an ISV to call an 800 number and say, 'I have an opportunity with XYZ company, and it involves IBM sales, and I could use support from IBM's sales network to help close this deal,'" he said.
"What we would then do is help connect them to the appropriate salesperson or a value-added reseller IBM partner in that territory to help close the deal."
Hebner said IBM's customers were driving the new programme.
"Our customers are driving the need to have applications that are very specialised to their business need, which equates to application providers that are very regional in nature and very industry-specialised," he said.
"So a bank in Germany is more likely to want a supplier of banking applications for risk and compliance that understands the German market and that understands the German regulatory requirements."
Hebner said what customers are driving is a community of application providers that are more regional in nature and more specialsed by industry.
He said it was in IBM's interest to foster the success of the broader network of ISVs.
"The way we're doing that is industry by industry. Our end goal is more solutions to meet our customers' needs that are supplied by IBM and its ISV partners," he said.
Linda Rosencrance writes for Computerworld