Awards case study: Find out how Lenovo won out for best channel marketing initiative

Find out how Lenovo won the award for best channel marketing intiative through its programme LEAP which generated an increase in revenue and recruitment.

About the client company

Lenovo is a Chinese multinational technology company dual-headquartered in Beijing, China and North Carolina, USA, with a global turnover of US $51 billion and 57,000 employees worldwide. Lenovo operates in 60+ countries, selling to customers in 160 markets. The company was founded in Beijing in 1984 as Legend Holdings and incorporated in Hong Kong in 1988. It was rebranded as Lenovo in 2004.

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing

Lenovo is best known for manufacturing PCs, laptops and tablets. However, Lenovo also operates in the server/storage market, selling scalable data center solutions to businesses worldwide. When Lenovo entered this market in 2014 (after acquiring IBM’s Intel-based systems business), its focus was on entry level low margin products. In 2018, this shifted to selling higher value, bundled solutions (e.g. server + warranty + storage + networking). This is a highly-competitive market where Lenovo is one of at least 10 vendors (including IBM, Dell, HP and Oracle) targeting resellers globally in the B2B channel. Lenovo is heavily dependent on this channel to win/protect market share as around 90% of its server/storage product sales stem from these resellers. Additionally, servers are complex products requiring specific selling skills. Resellers, therefore, need to be as technically procient as possible, giving them a competitive edge when selling Lenovo solutions to their end clients.

Objectives of the campaign

LEAP (Lenovo Expert Achievers Program), created/operated by Motivforce, is a bespoke global B2B programme, which rewards reseller participants for undertaking voluntary product training activities, plus sales of eligible solutions.

Overall Objectives: ensure participating channel partners sell at least three times more products than similar profiled non-participants (same size, selling same product/service mix in same region) -support Lenovo’s education objectives, maximise resellers commitment to product training and ensure participants are as technically proficient as possible, giving them a competitive edge when selling server solutions to end clients. Additionally, a specific objective for 2019 was to recruit/increase active participants globally by at least 20%

The target audience

LEAP targets sales and technical staff at Tier 2 reseller firms in Lenovo’s channel in 60 countries (7 languages) who sell to SME, non-government organisations. Lenovo competitors are all pushing training content and incentives to this channel. LEAP must consistently deliver engaging educational content, compelling sales incentives, and appealing rewards to stand out from competitor offerings. Learning activities must also be succinct/user-friendly as resellers have limited time for training in the workplace.

Media, channels or techniques used

LEAP is delivered via a bespoke portal, www.lenovoleap.com, giving participants easy access 24/7 to extensive educational/technical resources, sales incentives, personalised dashboards, and rewards. 

LEAP is structured around two components:

1) Learn & Elearn - participants receive points for completing voluntary e-learning activities including:

Lenovo E-learn Courses – lessons take10-20 minutes to complete and provide high-level overviews of specific Lenovo server solutions. 

  • Lenovo Roadmaps – tailored guides recommending training required for Lenovo Certification
  • Lenovo Enterprise Certification – industry-recognised qualification validating resellers’ ability to sell or provide pre-sales technical support

2) Sell and Earn - participants receive points for selling eligible solutions, claimed via ‘Claim a Sale’ section within LEAP portal Participants redeem points via the LEAP portal for retail vouchers or Lenovo-branded reloadable MasterCards. 

Additional mechanics in 2019:

a) LEAP’s Learn and Earn component became integrated with Lenovo’s new e-learn platform via single sign-on and seamless click-thru to LEAP, enabling participants to complete eligible courses via Lenovo e-learn platform and immediately view course completions/points earned in their LEAP account 

b) Tailor made incentives to modify behaviour in specific regions: - Ducati promotion (Australia/NZ): participants earned points for eligible Think System sales/learn activities (including webinar attendance); highest ranking LEAP participant won a Ducati motorcycle; this promotion underpinned  brand messaging/alignment as Lenovo sponsors Ducati (both brands are high performance) AMD Sell & Learn promotion (North America) – participants earned 6,000 points for Lenovo Think System training modules/eligible product sales 

c) LEAP/Motivforce team attended Lenovo Accelerate Partner Event in Orlando to recruit part

d) DM Communications – targeted emails per market announcing new course modules/account statements/product promotions (translated in 7 languages) 

Timescales of the campaign

 LEAP operates annually on rolling 12-month cycle (1 April-30 March). 

  • January 2019 – planning/strategy, including featured products, points, rewards mix, budgets, statement of works
  • March 2019 – relaunch mapped per region e.g. website refresh, translations, T&Cs 
  • April 2019 – programme goes live on following time frame

e)

  • DM communications – monthly account statements/newsletter/promotions
  • Sales uploaded weekly; participants claim/redeem 24/7
  • Helpdesk operates 24/7 via follow-the-sun solution
  • Weekly checkpoint calls between Motivforce and Lenovo
  • Monthly reporting & analytics – enables tactical/dynamic adjustment
  • Educational plans developed/released per quarter
  • Research undertaken annually to gauge participant satisfaction, links between sale

Budgets 

  • Global 2019 budget = US$5.5M including: 
  • Website development = $30,000 
  • Hosting/Licence Fees = $30,000
  • Creative Design = $25,000
  • eDM communications = $13,000 
  • Analytics/strategy = $50,000 
  • Helpdesk/Sales Claiming/Account Management/Reward Fulfillment = $345,000 
  • Translations = $7,000 
  • Rewards = $5,000,000

Results

Sales Efficacy/Revenue: Average LEAP firm generated 10.9 times more revenue than similar-profiled non-participating firm and 13.6 times more when the firm undertook learning. Average number of products sold by a LEAP firm was 8.1 times greater than non-LEAP firm, and 10.2 times more if the firm engaged in learning. Lenovo product sales claimed via LEAP increased by 44% YOY. LEAP participants represent 11% of Lenovo’s distribution channel yet delivered 57% of Lenovo’s total non-direct sales revenue.

Education: Participants undertaking Learning increased by 51% YOY. Modules completed increased by 58% YOY Additional revenue per LEAP participant who undertook learning was $50K Ducati promotion (ANZ) delivered 84% webinar attendance rate (record for Lenovo)
Recruitment: 55% increase to total 3,702 active participants, and 700 firms by end 2019

“LEAP 2019 was a phenomenal success, particularly as it exceeded our optimistic expectations in a highly-competitive year. Despite the logistical challenges of operating LEAP in 60 countries (seven languages) with 3,700 participants and 700 firms, results were outstanding. ROI is determined by sales ecacy of participants compared with like-for-like non-participants. LEAP rms generated 10.9 times more revenue, and 13.6 times more when they undertook LEAP learning activities. However, the most striking metric is that LEAP participants represent 11% of Lenovo’s channel, but delivered 57% or our total non-direct sales revenue! Sincere thanks to Motivforce for the hard work planning and executing LEAP 2019 in so many countries.” 

Kristina Tamaskovicova, Worldwide Marketing Program Manager