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IBM likes the channel, puts a ring on it

'We ARE removing channel STG anyway'

IBM is getting more touchy with resellers by tackling channel conflict in its hardware biz following a massive slide in server sales during recent quarters.

The move is being made exclusively in the System & Technology Group (STG) where IBM sales reps will now only be paid incentives for deals closed alongside resellers, not directly by the vendor.

Previously, the sales rep got paid compensation if the revenue target was hit, irrespective of how that business was transacted. Our sources reckon the changes will be net neutral for Big Blue staffers.

IBMer Dave Carlquist, veep of global competitive strategy and sales, said it has started to roll out the compensation changes.

"By moving to a co-selling model, Business Partners become the primary route-to-market for servers, storage and networking for the majority of IBM's clients," he said in a blog post today.

To date, just mid-market clients (1,000 seats and below) were designated by IBM as partner only accounts with the largest global customers and all other enterprises seen as fair game by the direct sales reps.

The change will see the number of customer accounts tapped up by IBM reps fall to between 23 to 27, say sources, though IBM refused to be drawn on this.

Carlquist claimed the co-selling model will expand technical resources available to customers, and help IBM to expand its breadth of channel relations.

And the company needs partners on side because it has been a rocky road for STG, what with server sales declining by double digit percentages in Q1 and Q2, staff axed from the unit and continued talk about the future ownership of Systems x and BladeCenter server units.

The engagement between channel partners and IBMers is expected to improve in STG, but some questioned why the vendor does not "replicate that [model] across the whole of the business".

Larger channel players sometimes knock heads with IBM direct sellers in the services space, and would like so some positive strategic moves in bigger growth markets.

"[IBM and its partners] would be better off having more clarity, less channel conflict," said one long serving IBM loyalist.

IBM told us the move was only in STG and refused our offer to explain why this is the case. ®

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