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Shifting mindsets: Lenovo's partner education strategy for growth

5 min read - by Sophie Baker - Account Director

Partner education is central to vendor success. And with the right approach, you can get partners to think differently about vendors and change their behaviour in your favour.


Changing perceptions, driving growth

We are creatures of habit. When something works, we stick with it. And we don’t always consider what else might be possible.

In the vendor-channel relationship, this human phenomenon is a problem. Vendors can be seen as providers of specific products or services. They often struggle to persuade partners to explore the wider aspects of their propositions.

The key is to educate partners about the value and rewards that can be achieved by exploring a deeper and wider relationship. It requires a shift in perception to establish a new mindset – a new understanding of what a vendor can offer.

Demonstrating the benefits and depth of a portfolio empowers partners to enhance sales and affirm their position as trusted advisors to their customers. Working with a vendor to expand their range opens up opportunities for partners to achieve high profits and deliver superior customer experiences.


Lenovo’s education game


For Lenovo, the goal was to shift partners' perceptions from seeing them as just a hardware provider to recognising their comprehensive offerings, including devices, solutions, software, and services tailored to customer needs.

With 96% of Lenovo's business going through the channel, partner focus was critical for the success of their new strategy. Enter Lenovo 360, introduced alongside a new set of outcome-based solutions.

Twogether developed a new partner-focused marketing campaign for the launch: Broaden Your Horizons. The campaign aimed to educate partners on the value of the program and reward them for selling the solutions.

It used a gamified approach to earning rewards, and incentivised education, to bring about the change in perception that was needed.


Simplicity is key


Partners don’t have time for complexity. With Lenovo 360, Lenovo showed that removing complexity from the relationship gives vendors a significant competitive advantage in getting front-of-mind with partners.

When vendors simplify processes and offer a unified portfolio, partners can invest in selling solutions tailored to specific business challenges and customer needs, rather than just pushing products.

The outcome-based solutions allowed partners to tap into client challenges, and sell turnkey solutions aligned with their customers’ priorities.


Solving problems, changing behaviours


As technologies and customers evolve, partners who fail to adapt to these trends risk falling behind. Vendors need to help partners understand the evolving challenges customers face, so they can meet demand effectively.

One of the ways to encourage partners to review outdated methods and adopt new ways of working, is through incentivisation. It requires a shift in attitudes, behaviours, and outcomes. This change is essential for adapting to the market and ensuring partners remain motivated and aligned with the vendor's strategic goals.


Straightforward education, targeted messaging


So, how do you achieve this within the framework of simplicity? It's about straightforward and direct education. Messaging needs to be targeted and specific. If it's generic, it will likely fly over the heads of busy partners and make it difficult to engage with them.

Lenovo's messaging within Broaden Your Horizons was benefit-led, incentivising partners to learn and sell from a wider, end-to-end portfolio – broadening their horizons.

It laid out the clear benefits of Lenovo 360 and incorporated training on Lenovo’s outcome-based solutions, so partners knew the importance of engaging. By selling solutions, partners reaped rewards, including new customers, more revenue, and pre-packaged solutions to meet challenges at the start of long-term and profitable relationships.


"Before we do anything else, we have to ensure that [partners] understand our offering. That they understand our value proposition versus our competitors."

Commercial Marketing Director, Lenovo


Striking results, future templates


Within six months, the campaign changed partner behaviour and delivered outstanding results. More than 1,000 partners signed up and more than 480 partners completed training modules to expand their knowledge of Lenovo's new outcome-based solutions. There was a whopping 22% year-on-year revenue increase for Lenovo.

Broaden Your Horizons was a benchmark for the evolution of a vendor’s channel strategy. It brought Lenovo and its partners closer together with a common focus on driving new value for customers.

The campaign stripped away complexity and gamified the rewards process in a way that boosted engagement and delivered high value to partners. At its heart was a commitment to education and perception change that brought new dimensions of understanding to the vendor/partner relationship.

Ready to learn more? Read the Lenovo Broaden your Horizons case study and discover how you can unlock your partners' potential.