IBM Sales Pitches Hit Global Stride

IBM is taking its pilot sales support program for ISVs and systems integrators global, the company said Tuesday.

The IBM Sales Connection program, launched earlier this year for its U.S. small- to medium-sized business (SMB) partners, gives smaller companies access to IBM’s sales clout.

Participants in countries such as China, Europe and India who are partnered with IBM will now have access to the same resources for their sales efforts.

In return, IBM expands its potential sales base across its ISV partner network, which the company said numbers more than 5,000, and into industry-specific and geographic niches.

As part of the program, a Big Blue rep accompanies partners on sales meetings to help close the deal with potential customers. IBM’s involvement in these customer negotiations, officials added, has in some cases shortened the sales cycle from nine months to 90 days. The company is currently participating in 700 active joint customer engagements.

“IBM is dedicated to the success of its business partners and will stay true to our commitment to partner with them,” Buell Duncan, IBM general manager of ISV and developer relations, said in a statement. “IBM Sales Connection is a unique resource that enables small and medium-sized firms to sell more.”

Earlier this year, the Armonk, N.Y., company announced it would increase the number of sales reps working directly with its partners on cooperative sales efforts to 1,000.

In addition, the company launched an ISV directory so customers could look for applications specific to their industry that also ran on the IBM middleware platform.

Big Blue has been devoting an increasing amount of attention to its partners overseas, particularly in the emerging markets in the Brazil, Russia, China and India (BRIC) region. Sales to businesses in these countries, officials said, are one of the biggest market opportunities in the SMB space.

Leveraging IBM’s massive marketing clout through direct mail, telemarketing and advertising resources, the company said its business partners have reported lead generation rates four times higher than the industry average.

In August, IBM announced the launch of a virtual mentoring program for companies interested in tailoring their software to integrate with IBM’s middleware suite.

It allows ISVs to attend workshops by phone and over the Internet, rather than physically attending lectures at one of the IBM development centers.

IBM said the demand for its development centers globally prompted the virtual mentoring program, as well as the acceleration of its timetable to build more centers earlier this year.

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