IBM STG Turns to Channel-First Co-Selling Model

Dave Cariquist, vice president of worldwide STG channel at IBM

Dave Cariquist, vice president of worldwide STG channel at IBM

IBM’s Systems and Technology Group is switching from a “channel-neutral” route to market to a “co-selling” motion that will include IBM business partners in sales to all but the company’s very largest customers.

Dave Cariquist, vice president of worldwide STG channel at IBM, said it’s a matter of aligning the business for growth in the midsize market. The company had previously been in a channel-led model for SMB and midmarket customers, but ultimately it had been the choice of IBM salespeople whether or not to take midsize enterprise business to a partner, or to keep it direct.

“We’re saying to the field sales community in STG, and to the pre-sales technical specialists, ‘We want you – we need you – to work with business partners. You will only be paid when the sale involved one of our business partners,’” Cariquist said. “With the shift to co-sell, the vast majority of our accounts will be under co-sell.”

Under the new plan, outlined internally at IBM in July and coming into effect now, IBM expects the channel to be involved in all but a very few global large enterprise customers. Those customers remain in a “channel-neutral” model – channel partners can and will be involved in sales to those clients, but IBM’s field has no specific financial incentive to include them, nor disincentive to exclude them.

With IBM moving towards its channel partner partners for a lot more business, Cariquist says he expects to see solution providers investing more deeply with Big Blue in recognition of the growing number of opportunities available.

The co-sell model also applies to partner-sourced business, and Cariquist said partners bringing opportunities to IBM will have greater access to IBM technical staff, both pre- and post-sales. As a result of the shift, Cariquist said IBM will be shifting more of its sales and technical resources into roles assisting channel partners. The company will also introduce specialists on business partners themselves, working with solution providers to help plot out practice development and support the development of new skills and capabilities in the channel.

“The dependency is that as we move into this model and run more business through business partners, we have to make sure that channel is fully capable, fully enabled, fully energized,” Cariquist said.

He added there are other changes in the works to support the move. Cariquist hinted at simplified channel terms and conditions to come in the near future, as well as “more compelling incentives” in the midmarket space around STG products.