Lenovo announces new Combat kits and partner-friendly administrative procedures

Lenovo North American channel chief Chris Frey

Lenovo North American channel chief Chris Frey

At its Accelerate 2014 Partner Forum in Orlando, Lenovo has announced several significant changes to its channel management policies, including changing rebates from back end to front end. They also announced two new reseller combat kits, as well as the 2.0 version of the original Mobility Kit from last year.

“We are making our channel programs easier for this fiscal year, including ease of payments and ease of reporting, while eliminating procedures and creating more efficient processes,” said Chris Frey, Lenovo’s North American channel chief.

The enhancements will be around Partner payments by the end of this summer and reporting in the second half of this year.

For example, the New Customer Bonus has been one of Lenovo’s longest standing and more popular program with thousands of submissions every quarter. The improved program for this fiscal year will keep the incentive structure and intention of the program, while improving the operational aspects of the program to elevate usage.

One key change is transitioning program rebates from the back-end to front-end.

“This benefits the reseller by getting the incentive sooner rather than later and better enables the partner to meet the demands of an immediate opportunity,” Frey said.

It also will reduce the time the partner has to invest in bookkeeping to get their money. Because the effective rebates are upfront, the program will no longer require detailed sales reporting from the partner.

Other reporting changes include simplified customer search and matching which improve the speed and accuracy of nominations and approvals. The user interface has also been improved to make it more intuitive and easy for the partners, with robust new tracking and reporting features.

Lenovo also announced an expansion of the combat kits available to resellers. They introduced the first one, a Mobility Kit, last summer, following a promise at last year’s Accelerate. The idea behind the kits is to combat confusion and information overload by putting all the different usage models in the hands of customers.

“Customers now need the opportunity to learn the usage models and touch the devices to make a choice,” Frey said. “In the past, they would make a decision where everyone got the same clamshell and the issues were over features. Now, the sales motion is harder with so many products and usage models.”

Lenovo has now expanded the kit roster. The second generation of the Mobility Kit was announced on May 1, It provides access to six new Haswell products, across three unique OS’s. They are the new X1 Carbon/ Win 8.1 preload, ThinkPad Yoga/ Win 8.1 preload, ThinkPad T440s/Win 8 Touch, ThinkPad 8 (tablet)/ Win 8, Lenovo Yoga Tablet/Android, and the ThinkCentre M93p/ Win 8/ Tiny form factor.

A new Lenovo ThinkServer Demo Kit was announced at the event. Like the Mobility kit, its purpose is to provide customers with hands-on experience, in this case, to give IT staff direct turnkey exposure to the  latest server technology. The kit covers the ThinkServer RD540 rack, ThinkPad T440s Ultrabook, optional rails for rack testing, cables, Easy Startup/ Remote Management CD, and Windows Server Essentials 2012 OS. The ThinkPad T440s Ultrabook acts as the KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) and is installed with a custom Win 8 image. The ThinkServer Demo Kit is free to a Reseller to evaluate for up to 10 business days.

A third combat kit, aimed at the education market, is scheduled to be available very soon. Lenovo lists availability as mid-May, which is essentially here now. This EDU Combat Kit includes:  X140e/ Windows 8/AMD;  11e/ Chrome/ Intel; and ThinkCentre M93p, Tiny form factor. It is also free to evaluate for up to 10 business days.

“I think these kits should help the sales cycle move quicker for the VAR, so the customer can see the choices instead of the VAR having to explain the choices,” Frey said.

This article originally appeared on eChannelLine.com.