January 14th, 2021
IBM Teaming Agreement Program allows IBM Partners to Work Together for the Benefit of the Clients.
Last month I received a distressed email from one of Lodestar Solutions’ longtime IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 clients. They were desperate to find an IBM Guardium expert because they recently had a system issue and when they called IBM support, they were told they would not help until they upgraded IBM Guardium to a currently supported version. The client knew Lodestar was not experts in Guardium, but they trusted that we had connections with other boutique IBM Partners that were experts in Guardium. In May 2020 IBM launched a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows IBM Partners to work together for the benefit of the clients.
Why You Might Need an IBM Teaming Agreement
If you are an IBM reselling business partner and you specialize in a specific area, your clients may approach you asking for help with another IBM software product that you do not typically support. Maybe the client has a question or needs support on IBM Security software licenses like Guardium, but you are not the expert on Guardium and not authorized to sell it. You have a few options.
1. You can call IBM and have them handle it.
You could turn to IBM to connect them with the client but if you have strong relationships with your clients like we do, the client may say they want to buy it from you. Additionally, if they were rejected by IBM support, like our client was, for not being on a supported version, they may want to work with someone they know and trust.
2. You can scramble to get your IBM certifications for the new product family.
You can take the steps to get your IBM certifications and add a new product to your IBM Business Partner Agreement. But this can take a lot of time and may not be in your business growth roadmap. Here’s more information on IBM certifications.
3. Sell the licenses to the client at list price.
A while back IBM changed the rules and now allows IBM partners to sell software and support that is not in the category or brand family that they are certified to sell. The problem with this is the margins are very low and even worse you can’t get a special bid to help save your valuable client money. At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on getting the best value for our clients and would rather tell the client to buy from someone else then lose their trust in our commitment to getting them the best price.
4. Enter an IBM Teaming Agreement with another Partner to serve the client. (NEW)
Historically IBM did not allow reselling partners to buy IBM software from another business partner and sell it to their client. If you did not have the certification for the brand family you are trying to sell, you could not buy it from anyone other than your value-added distributor (VAD).
But in May 2020 IBM launched the new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that was designed to empower two boutique partners that are specialists in their specific niches to partner together, get the best price for the client and work together to solve the clients’ issues. This change was huge! Too bad they forgot to tell anyone it existed!
What is the IBM Teaming Agreement Program?
Lodestar Solutions recently discovered that IBM now allows partner to work together if they sign an IBM Teaming Agreement. The agreement consists of two IBM contracts that are signed by the two partners that want to work together. By signing the agreements and submitting them to IBM, the IBM Business Partner that has the product expertise can sell the software and services to the Business Partner with the client relationship. Without the teaming agreement in place, I believe it is still a violation of IBM partner channel rules for one partner to sell software to another that is planning to resell to the customer, but I defer to IBM on this.
Benefits of IBM Teaming Agreement
The IBM Teaming Agreement Program offers several benefits to both partners, the client and IBM.
The benefits to the clients:
- The clients get to work with a partner they have a long relationship with and trust.
- The partner that will sell them the software is already an established, authorized vendor in their procurement system.
- The client and the partner may already have a Master Service Agreement in place and any new services can be provided under a new Statement of Work, saving time going through legal review.
- The client will still get the benefit of any promotion or a special bid offering a discount on the software.
- The client will have an improved customer buying experience by purchasing multiple IBM Products from one BP.
- The clients will benefit from the higher service level they get from boutique partners that choose to focus on a specialized area, and therefore higher level of expertise.
The benefits to the partners:
- The IBM Business Partner with the close relationship with the client is viewed as the trusted advisor that can connect the client with other boutique partners.
- The two business partners can create a profit-sharing agreement to be rewarded for their efforts.
- The partners may qualify for all IBM CVR margins available including engaged/solutions as long as one has the correct IBM Certifications.
- Both IBM Partners benefit from growing their businesses by sharing their clients.
How Does the IBM Teaming Agreement Process Work?
Candidly discovering how the IBM Teaming Agreement process works, was painful for me. I spent hours talking to several IBMers and Ingram Micro team members, but I believe we finally were able to put all the parts together including CVR, registration, legal documents… Now that we know the process, we are shocked how easy it is when you have a checklist of the process, which Lodestar created.
Call to Action – Connect with Lodestar Solutions
Now that we discovered the process, Lodestar is looking for other IBM Business Partners to create Teaming agreements. We have fabulous connections with our clients, and we are happy to introduce boutique partners that are passionate about adding value to clients! If you are experts in any of the IBM software portfolios we want to connect. To learn more about us go to our website.
Maybe we will share the details on how the program works in our next blog… email me at email@example.com to start the conversation.