Samsung Rolls Out First Certification Program For U.S. Partners, Launches Improved Training

Samsung Electronics America Thursday unveiled the initial launch of a certification program for partners in the U.S. along with other channel program enhancements as part of its push to boost sales of enterprise mobility and other B2B solutions.

Certifications will be free and will be offered in two categories — mobility sales specialist, and professional display and SSD sales specialist.

Other channel enhancements include updated training within the Samsung partner portal; an expansion of personalized marketing support to all partners, rather than just those in the Platinum and Gold tiers; and the launch of a new channel program focused on mobility.

[Related: 5 Business-Friendly Features Of The Samsung Galaxy S8]

"What we're really trying to do is increase our investments in channel partners to help them take advantage of this huge and growing total addressable market in mobility," said Carrie Maslen, vice president of strategy and operations at Samsung, in an interview with CRN. "We're doubling down on our investment because we really believe we can help partners increase their top line and bottom line."

Samsung's STEP channel program, which stands for Samsung Team of Empowered Partners, was launched in 2014. The company isn't disclosing the number of partners in the program.

Samsung's certification program will include authorization of partners as Samsung Knox resellers once they've completed the mobility sales specialist certification. All certified partners will be able to display a certification badge on marketing materials. Also, the program will enable partners to earn credit toward accreditation from third-party associations such as InfoComm, Samsung said.

One of the main investments from Samsung is in updating online trainings, according to the company. Previously, the standard trainings were 30-minute PowerPoint videos with voiceovers or pre-recorded webinars, said Christy Jones, who heads Samsung's training and certification program.

The training has now gotten a refresh to make the sessions more interactive and engaging — for instance, through bringing in games and videos, she said. Training modules will also now be two to 10 minutes in length.

Samsung's new training offering "helps us ensure our specialists are certified to provide the best experience for our clients," said Bob Kane, senior vice president for product management at Samsung partner Insight.

Ultimately, the certifications and training mean "we can empower Insight teammates with additional mobile expertise," Kane said.

In terms of marketing support, Samsung will expand its Marketing Concierge demand-generation services to cover Silver and Registered partners, in addition to Gold and Platinum tier partners.

"We see our role as providing that marketing expertise and training expertise to the partners, so they can sell more -- and sell more effectively," Samsung's Maslen said.

Meanwhile, the new Mobility Solution Provider Program serves as a track within Samsung's larger STEP Channel Partner Program and offers benefits such as leads and volume incentive rebates to qualifying partners. Solution providers must make a commitment to the program that includes having a certain number of staff members achieve certification, Maslen said.

"Samsung's investment in the channel and team expansion demonstrates the need to continually evolve to keep pace -- especially in our industry," Insight's Kane said. "The deep relationships we've cultivated with partners like Samsung, and many others, powers the full IT solutions our clients need to manage and transform their organizations and meet the changing needs of their workforce and customers."

Key mobility products from Samsung include the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones and the Galaxy Book 2-in-1 tablet. "Our flagship phones, to me, represent the biggest opportunity because that's the part of the total addressable market that's growing the fastest," Maslen said. "We're also seeing huge growth in tablets — a lot of growth in 2-in-1."

Maslen said that other opportunities include solutions around wearables such as the Gear S3 smartwatch, which is a good fit for verticals such as retail and warehousing, and Gear VR, a virtual-reality headset that can be used for employee training, for instance.

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