The European head of IBM's PC operation admitted today that it needs to work harder to win bigger market share in the lucrative small to medium business market.
At its headquarters in Paris today, Jean-Claude Malraison, European general manager of the IBM PC Company, said: "We're going to address this IBM credibility gap. People see us as blue suits selling to big business but that's not true."
He added that the company's telesales group generates 400 leads a day for its two-tier channel structure, but as it employs 400 people, one lead per person per day was "not enough". IBM had to do better, especially with arch rivals Compaq and Hewlett Packard announcing aggressive campaigns to win more business in the SME sector (see yesterday's story).
David Winn, UK general manager of the IBM PC Company, said: "The SME market is where the red meat is."
Lou Gerstner, IBM's chief executive, set up a special unit last year to exploit a market worth $100 billion in the Emea region alone.
His European deputies argued that it is not longer true that IBM sells its products only through large corporate dealers. It has set up special programmes to increase sales through ISVs, focused on vertical markets, and other methods that are targeted particularly to smaller companies.
Next week, IBM will introduce a replica of its System Care scheme, already rolled out in the US. That will provide financing schemes, service and support aimed at the small and medium sized markets.
But Winn said that IBM will not follow Compaq and sell direct to micro businesses. "It's not entirely clear what Compaq is doing but in any case we will not follow a direct model," he said.
Nor would IBM repeat its Ambra experiment of a few years ago to change the perception problem, claimed Winn. "We tried that before," he said. "We're happy with the IBM brand." Ambra was a separate PC brand for low cost models aimed at home and small business users, but was wound up after a couple of years.
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