IBM has launched a new financing program for its business partners and resellers, offering up to $150,000 worth of credit.
Called IBM Financing Advantage (IFA), the program seeks to improve on past financing choices by speeding up application approval times to within an hour. It will allow IBM's resellers to specifically tackle the SMB market by allowing them to offer financing of between $15,000 and $150,000.
IBM Global Financing ANZ general manager, Frank Keenan, said Big Blue was responding to channel calls for a new approach to an old business.
"When we discussed IBM's financing with our business partners we found that we weren't providing the solutions they needed," he said. "Over the last 12 months we have looked at various approaches at how we can increase the SMB market and IFA is the solution we came up with."
Growth in IBM's financing business had until now been hindered by the speed of the financing application process, Keenan said.
"Credit approval and contract turn around time used to take a few days to make happen," he said. "With this program, in the majority of cases, we aim to give a pass or fail credit rating with an hour's turnaround."
A further improvement on the last program, Keenan said, was the ability for resellers to add up to 15 per cent extra to the value of an approved credit amount, up to a ceiling of $150,000.
"This means a partner does not have to go back and re-approve a customer if they manage to expand the deal to include some additional hardware or software," he said.
According to Keenan, a high percentage of deals currently involved financing, and with IFA now available, this was likely to increase. Backing up this claim he cited a recent trial of IFA involving 50 partners which resulted in over 400 deals proposed worth $20 million in under a year. The size of the potential market was also encouraging.
As partners would be receiving training on IFA tools and the basics of selling finance, as well as a commission fee for each financing plan sold, Keenan said there would be no trepidation amongst resellers about moving further into the financing market.
"I don't think business partners are becoming loan managers," he said. "We are just giving them another arm in their armoury to provide clear financing options."
While IFA was aimed squarely at the SMB market, Keenan said there could be the perception in the market that IBM was heading toward the consumer market.
"People can get overawed by something like this. This is not IBM going into the $1000 consumer market," he said. "It's not to say that we won't go down there but at this stage this is about the SMB market."