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Chris Frey’s three messages for the channel

Chris Frey
Chris Frey, VP of Lenovo North America

Las Vegas, NV – At the general session of Lenovo’s Accelerate event Tuesday, Chris Frey did not mince words.

The newly appointed vice president of North America commercial channels and SMB at Lenovo had three clear messages for the channel: Try Lenovo, get out of the annuity model, and sell everything.

“We’re asking you to go out and sell servers,” said Frey.  He prefaced by saying that many in the channel are probably used to dealing with the same manufacturer over the years, and that the status quo may have served them well so far.

“I ask you to trust us and try us,” he said to a room of business partners.  “Try us knowing that we’ve always had the best value proposition and technology in the market.  Try us because we believe in unity and you are part of our strategy.  Try us for margin if all else fails.  Let status quo be okay for today, try Lenovo tomorrow.”

Frey’s statements come amidst Lenovo’s push for a new direction post integration of the x86 and Motorola’s mobility business – the One model.

This has affect its channel incentives, product portfolio, distribution agreements, as well as its go-to-market strategy, which the company’s own North American Channel Chief, Sammy Kinlaw has called “aggressive.”

With Lenovo hoping to drive 90 per cent of its business through the channel in the near future (up from 85 per cent), it seems that the company is asking partners to follow suit.

In order to do so, Frey has two other strategies for the channel, the first being to go after new customers.

“I worry that an annuity business model is a going out of business model,” said Frey.  “Meaning, if we all just address customers that we’ve traditionally done business with … sometimes it takes only one loss of a customer and your whole business model craters.”

Instead, he asked that the channel look towards expanding their busines by selling another Lenovo product line to existing customers.

To sweeten the deal, the company has upped the incentives such as raising its new customer bonus from 9 per cent to 15 per cent.   It also reconfigured its agreements to allow distributors and resellers to access a greater variety of its portfolio.

“Sell them a ThinkPad, we’ll pay you a lot of money for it.  Sell them a desktop, I’ll pay you a lot of money for it.  Sell a server, I’ll pay you a lot of money for it,” Frey said.

“We no longer should assume that every user wants to buy a certain product profile.  Let’s get all our products and services in there and make it a barrier of entry to our competitors.  Block them out.  We want to grow, we want to win, and we want to do it with you.”