IBM's Personal Computing Division (PCD) claims it has attracted 180 new resellers and trained 500 reseller staff in IBM technology since the inception of Big Blue's Associate Member Program in March.
The program, initiated by ex-Toshiba sales manager and now IBM PCD channel manager Phil Cameron, aims to coax resellers back to the IBM brand. For several years, the vendor's direct-selling strategies had caused uncertainty and frustration in the PC channel. This was typified by mass merchant Harvey Norman giving the vendor its marching orders in October 2001 and culminated in IBM's decision two months later to abandon its sales into mass merchant retailers altogether.
The Associate Member Program, introduced in March, aims to attract the attention of the many hundreds of small resellers that did not push the required $400,000 of IBM gear per annum to gain "authorised IBM reseller" status. Instead, the criteria to sell IBM computers were set on training and education around IBM product.
Six months later, Cameron and general manager Nerida Caesar claim the initiative is already paying dividends for the vendor. The vendor has "elevated its presence" in the IT channel through a series of training incentives, marketing campaigns and reseller events, Cameron said. "Business partners are starting to see us in a different light," he said. "Many resellers out there wanted to work with IBM -- they were looking for a genuine tier-one PC vendor to partner with."
Channel research firm Inform statistics reveal that IBM's decision to pull out of its direct relationships with mass merchants and a renewed focus on the rest of the channel has been a success. Since the beginning of the year, Inform has IBM's share of the indirect PC market escalating from 10.5 per cent to just over 15 per cent. The 3 per cent fall in mass merchant sales (which now sits at just above zero), was more than matched by an increase in traditional dealer sales (from 11 per cent to 16 per cent) and independent retailers (less than 1 per cent to 6.5 per cent). Corporate dealers continue to make up most of IBM's indirect sales at 64 per cent, direct marketers have dropped considerably from 22 per cent to 8 per cent, while VARs are steady at 4.5 per cent.
For more on IBM's channel strategy, see this week's issue of ARN.