Lenovo vows to take a consistent approach to partnering

Senior UK management at Lenovo are trying to stage something of a channel love in but realise they need to become more predictable to build a stable sales platform.

Senior UK management at Lenovo are trying to stage something of a channel love in but realise they need to become more predictable to build a stable sales platform.

In the past nine months there has been a great deal of upheaval at Lenovo UK including the departures of managing director Chris Well, relationship director Ian Jeffs and latterly Tim Wilkinson, who had been transactional director.

This instability has been reflected in Lenovo's sales figures and last quarter it once again fell out of the top five in the UK PC market. This makes the job of Alan Munro, vice president of Lenovo UK all the more important.

"There are some things I see we can do a whole lot better around the channel because I don't think we have had a really consistent message to them...we need to love the channel to death," he said.

The first step has been to install ex-Samsung director Neil Berville to head up the transactional or volume channel and Glenn Williams, as relationship director overseeing corporate resellers and integrators, formerly of Dell.

There has been a large emphasis on the volume side of the channel said Munro but "the relationship business is equally important to us but I don't think we have approached the market in that way in the past."

The likes of Computacenter, SCC and Fujitsu Services should have strong links with Lenovo he added but "[our direct sales force has] competed with them, we have been with them some time and against at others."

Relationship director Williams is working on initiatives to minimise this conflict, increase rebates to motivate them and ramp regular communications.

But regular contact with resellers is also something Lenovo needs to do more effectively in the volume channel, admitted Munro, "we need to be consistent; consistently taking, managing and going to market with them."

In the second quarter, Gartner data revealed Lenovo had slipped out of the top five PC vendors after posting 10% growth, less half the market average at 27.4%.

Munro reckons its ThinkPad technology has a loyal following but its issue is that "we haven't stuck with a strong message to the channel and be regimented in how we tackle the commercial market."

On the distribution front, Lenovo wants to become more proactive in marketing its technology so that wholesalers benefit from the pull through.

"In the past distribution has been about selling as much in and then hoping like hell that it sells out, that model is flawed but we are going to drive more demand in the market to create a greater pull through," he said.

That said, Lenovo has seen massive improvements in the supply chain it inherited from IBM all those years ago and partners are no longer complaining as vocally about lead times.

Munro will be hoping that he can replicate those improvements across the other parts of the business that require some fundamental fixes.

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