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IBM Expands SMB Partner Program Worldwide

IBM's Sales Connections program generated 700 active joint customer engagements in the United States in the past 10 months.
IBM has expanded sales support to its business partners worldwide with a new program that targets greater penetration of small and medium business market.

After piloting the IBM Sales Connections program in the United States for the past 10 months, IBM has expanded the initiative worldwide, says Leslie Givens, program director for independent software developer relations at IBM.

"We recognize the mid-market is a very significant opportunity for IBM and for all sorts of industry players," Givens says. "Our partners have been pleased in the past with our programs, technical resources, and product enablement support, but they want help generating leads and closing deals."

Since it was launched early this year domestically, there have been about 700 active joint customer engagements, she says. By expanding to world markets, IBM believes it and its partners can capture more share of the SMB market, which research firm IDC estimates will exceed $140 billion this year.

"In many markets outside of the U.S, the mid-market represents a really significant piece of the total market opportunity," Givens says. "Partners around the globe can now take the IBM sales machine and scale it in a way that can meet their needs. Not everyone has the number of feet on the street that IBM does in countries around the world."

IBM is providing on-site support to partners from its hardware, software, and services sales experts to help them sell more effectively into vertical industries and multiple geographies, she says. In the pilot programs, the program has help partners shorten sales cycles from as long as nine months to as short as 90 days.

The sales connections program allows partners to submit online requests that include information on specific sales opportunities, prospective customers, and potential benefits of a joint sales effort. Within three days, IBM will engage a regional territory sales manager to assist the partner in closing the deal, including hosting live customer meetings.

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