LAS VEGAS – Lenovo North American channel chief Chris Frey was quite vocal that he has no plans currently to change, tweak or augment the company’s channel program.

That doesn’t mean Frey is standing pat. At the Accelerate Channel Conference, held here, Frey’s focus is to teach Lenovo’s resellers on properly selling touch, addressing BYOD challenges and to anticipate future customer needs.

“The message we are telling the sellers is its time for hand-to-hand combat and I am arming my sellers on the street with training,” Frey said.

Frey saw a need for extra training when the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend started to unfold. He told CDN that the channel was unable to immediately address BYOD because companies such as Lenovo did not have technology to support those customers at that time.

With Windows 8 and the touch-enabled operating system Lenovo does have the products to address BYOD. “We, as a manufacturer, the clients can now go to a touch model or convertibles or all-in-one computers and really start to take advantage of the Windows 8 experience,” Frey said.

Fry has already started hiring people for this teaching initiative and they will start to engage with the channel partners in person and on the phone. His goal is for people is to help the channel establish a touch business practice and take advantage of potential high margin opportunities with services such as data migration.

This new teaching staff will also try to get the partners ready for the upcoming new product refresh that will come when Microsoft kills off support of the XP operating system in April of 2014.

Jeff Erbstein, the senior director of Microsoft’s US OEM business, said there are approximately 160 million PCs still running XP today. “When XP was released in 2001 it was not based on pervasive wireless that we have now,” Erbstein said.

Microsoft’s goal with XP, Erbstein added, is to reduce XP to 10 per cent by June 2014. “This could lead to an excellent migration opportunity for the channel. And, Microsoft plans to make more noise about ending XP in the next few months. This is a ripe opportunity to go in a get those devices.”

Lenovo Canada director Stefan Bockhop reiterated that there will be no changes to the channel program for Canada.

Bockhop’s message to Canadian channel partners is that the device matters more now than ever.

He added that servers and the new EMC storage partnership will provide new selling opportunities for the channel along with Windows 8 touch devices.

“Lenovo can now satisfy many needs as we now compete in so many new areas that we were never in before,” Bockhop said.

In Canada Lenovo’s share of the SMB market is at 19 per cent, which is up 4.3 per cent from last year. Lenovo’s market sweet spot is SMB.

Frey also provided the 491 channel partners in attendance at the Accelerate Channel Conference with a choice of incentives.

Between now and the end of June, these select channel partners have been offered the choice of $180 off a ThinkPad 2, $360 off a Twist device, $830 off a Lenovo Helix, and a whopping $1,600 off a new ThinkServer RD model.

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