It may be true that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macs are more expensive than traditional PCs, selling for an average of over $1,200 last quarter, but that thinking is getting flipped on its head in the enterprise.

Earlier this year, IBM (NYSE:IBM) announced that it would be deploying Macs on a large scale, intending to purchase 50,000 Macs by the end of 2015 and upwards of 200,000 after everything's said and done. That would represent over half of IBM's employee headcount, which totaled about 380,000 at the end of last year.

As IBM becomes Apple's greatest enterprise ally, it helps for Big Blue to get some first hand experience on deploying and supporting Macs. Just a couple months in, IBM has already learned a lot.

$270 saved is $270 earned
On Apple's most recent conference call, CFO Luca Maestri said that IBM is already generating substantial cost savings by making the switch to Macs. More specifically, IBM says it saves $270 per PC, primarily due to lower support costs and higher residual value. Considering the fact that IBM has already deployed over 30,000 Macs and adds another 1,900 every week, those savings add up.

Earlier this month, IBM Workplace-as-a-Service exec Fletcher Previn discussed the deployment at the JAMF Nation User Conference. IBM has just 24 help desk employees to support all of the Macs and iOS devices that are currently deployed. While 40% of IBM's internal PC users call in for help, a mere 5% of Mac users need assistance. Employees are easily able to set up their new machines and install enterprise software on their own.

IBM is here to help
This isn't just good news for IBM; it's great news for Apple. Only in the past couple of years has Apple started to give the enterprise market some attention, and the IBM partnership is the biggest move yet. Enterprise customers now account for $25 billion in annual revenue for Apple, representing 40% growth.

Yet, Apple has also conceded that it will likely never have a particularly large internal sales force to address the enterprise market. Apple has absolutely worked to slowly add more and more features that appeal to the enterprise, but when it comes to sales, Apple is taking a measured approach. Here's Cook:

And so I do not envision Apple's having a large enterprise sales force. We will certainly make -- we continue adding some people more on the engineering side, but I don't envision having a large direct sales force.

Instead, Apple will rely on distribution and channel partners to sell into the enterprise, with IBM being the largest by a big margin. And now IBM can testify to potential customers about its own experience with Macs. At first, the rise of BYOD policies was a boon to Apple's enterprise penetration, laying the groundwork for greater adoption.

Steve Jobs once famously referred to IT decision makers as "orifices," but now the execs are starting to see the benefits of fully embracing the Mac.

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