Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

The conventional thinking among many IT vendors is that small and midsized businesses offer room to grow.

That’s why companies in sectors from software to storage are retooling their SMB programs and turning to the channel. Sales and marketing programs geared toward smaller businesses—and their reseller partners—can help move products. But there’s nothing like money to keep the deal pipeline flowing.

The pilots were limited in scope. But under the Financing Advantage label, the three program components cover IBM and non-IBM hardware, software, and services. IBM offers Financing Advantage in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, in addition to the U.S. The program handles deals of up to $300,000.

IBM isn’t the only partner-oriented vendor with financing programs for SMBs. Hewlett-Packard Co., for example, offers financing tools through its PartnerOne channel program.

One thing that distinguishes IBM, however, is how much it is promoting SMB financing, noted Janet Waxman, vice president of hardware channels research at International Data Corp. IBM, she said, is “more proactive in going after this market.”

That could be because IBM has been perceived over the years as more closely associated with large enterprises as opposed to smaller firms. Whatever the motivation, IBM seeks to make financing more readily available to SMBs. For partners, that availability could facilitate deal making. Customers who lease tend to acquire more IT and acquire it faster, Thomas said.

What solutions are SMBs investing in? The three top areas are digital media, wireless, and Linux, according to an IBM spokeswoman. Each of those areas grew in excess of 50 percent last year within IBM’s SMB customer set. Also in demand: application-led solutions such as customer relationship management.

Check out’s for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.