Can Lenovo compete against Dell?

Today at the Lenovo Partner Forum, called Accelerate 2011, in Las Vegas the message coming from the vendor is that they wish to compete against Apple and be that top brand in the market place. The company released the X1 super thin notebook to compete with the MacBook Air. But what about Dell?
I spoke to one Dell channel partner from the mid-west of the U.S. who was invited by Lenovo to be at this conference as one of those designated “compete partners” to gage if Lenovo is a better choice than Dell.
Here is his problem with Dell and its channel strategy going forward: None! The strategy, the people executing on that strategy is all working but the rest of the company is still in its direct selling mode that has created problems for him in his local market.
He told me about a re-occurring problem with Dell. He has a customer with an opportunity to sell them hundreds of products from Dell at a competitive price for his local market. Then that customer sees that Dell has price on its Web site for similar products for drastically cheaper than the solution provider initially quoted. The customer is upset and calls the solution provider demanding why he or she is being gouged. Then the solution provider calls his Dell field channel rep and is immediately given a new price quote that matches the one advertised on the Web site. The customer is now made even happier because of the lower acquisition cost.
The solution provider already gets a discount between 25 to 35 per cent from Dell from the start. That is an excellent margin opportunity for sure and leads me to believe that Dell is serious about building a business model with the channel in North America. However, this company's pricing disconnect has to stop. Customers are savvy these days and know to check Web sites and twitter feeds.
Meanwhile, does Lenovo have an opportunity for this solution provider? Judging from the comments from company president and COO Rory Reed I think so. Reed this morning said Lenovo is not interested in buying a services company to compete with partners and currently has 85 plus per cent of its business going through the channel in North America. There challenge is getting more brand awareness for Lenovo and its products in the market place.
Now what this solution provider do is not break down hardware costs for the customer and instead just offer them one price that includes all hardware, software, services and his own value added. This way he can avoid these embarrasing situations.
One quick hit before I go. Lenovo has revamped its Web site with a new partner portal.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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