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May 31, 2011
I’m eating my words. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do that often. So here goes: Back in my global channel professional days I worked for EqualLogic. I was one of those channel folks who ate, slept and breathed the channel (still am). So when I got the news in 2008 that Dell (one of the less channel-friendly companies) was buying EqualLogic I couldn’t get my resume updated quickly enough. “They just don’t get it and they never will,” are the words I’m about to eat, just in case you were wondering.
On May 9, 2011, Dell announced enhancements to its partner program. After reading the release I must admit, the company totally gets it. Yes, I said it. Dell gets it.
Make the Change, Make it Right
Dell didn’t just throw up a program and say “look what we made” as it has done — and others have done, also — in the past. Plenty of programs have been created in a bubble and more often then not, they’ve failed miserably. Per Bob Skelley, executive director of Global Channel Partner Program and Channel at Dell (and, incidentally, my former boss): “This has been a year in the making. We included partners upfront and their feedback has been great.”
To get that partner feedback and create a program where partners truly would thrive, Dell also engaged two consulting organizations to build out a new framework. Full disclosure: Channel Maven Consulting wasn’t one of them.
What’s So Great?
Dell’s latest partner program features its share of give and take, which is why it’s such a great program. The company has created a ‘Premier’ level with increased benefits including rebate programs, bringing more profitability to partners that show a higher level of investment. But the biggest difference? Dell is thinking about the customer when putting in place commitments from and benefits for its partners. It doesn’t do much good to require partners to do something that, in the end, doesn’t actually drive more business or help partners support customers.
Dell is also finally partnering with a third-party provider to offer true deal registration and incentive administration. You don’t want to know how it was done in my day but let’s just say partners weren’t exactly getting paid in the same month incentives were accrued. Heck, some of them weren’t even getting paid that quarter.
I’m also happy to see Dell is not charging partners for training, thereby enabling partners of any size to get certified. Dell has stuck by this and I have to believe it’s in part because of Skelley himself, who I remember being adamant about not charging partners to be better at selling our products.
What Does This REALLY Mean for Partners?
Skelley thinks the Premier level is a great opportunity for partners of all sizes. “True small shops — you know, those three-to-five-person entities — are going to find the certification and revenue commitments still within scope. We really structured this – with the feedback of our partners – so that it is attainable.”
I spoke with a couple of partners, some of whom already work with Dell and others who had sworn off working with the company in the past. The general consensus is these enhancements are another step in the right direction. When asking those who, like me, may have to eat their words if they’d consider working with Dell now, there was a verbal shrug of the shoulders and a “We’ll have to see.” Dell most likely still has to keep its direct team in check, but these enhancements are sure showing the channel some love.
Spelling It Out
The information on partner levels below is straight out of the press release from Dell:
Dell Premier Partners: Premier partners demonstrate the highest level of commitment, earn two Dell certifications, and maintain a minimum annual revenue threshold. New benefits include: rebates on qualified products; access to the Product Incentive Program, designed to provide additional financial incentives for key Dell products and solutions; 180-day deal registration; unlimited concurrent deal registration; potential access to Dell-generated leads; and priority access to Resource Desk.
Dell Preferred Partners: Previously known as Dell Certified Partners, Preferred Partners are recognized experts in key Dell solutions, have at least one Dell certification and reach a minimum annual revenue threshold. New benefits include: enhanced deal registration terms (120 days), including extended deal registration for storage products and access to Dell-generated leads.
Dell Registered Partners: Benefits for Dell Registered Partners remain the same.
So,what do you think? Does Dell “get it”? Would you work Dell as a partner?
Heather K. Margolis, a self proclaimed “recovering channel professional,” founded Channel Maven in early 2009. Heather is passionate about enabling vendors and their channel partners to drive more business through their channel programs. Having led channel programs for companies like EMC, EqualLogic and Dell, Heather helps channel organizations of all sizes build smarter channel programs, manage channel relationships to find added value, and engage their communities through social and traditional media. Heather regularly speaks to manufacturer and channel partner audiences about getting the most from social and traditional media. She also speaks to a variety of audiences about entrepreneurship, building a service business, and B2B strategy.
A proud alum of Babson’s MBA program, Heather grew up in Massachusetts and now calls beautiful Boulder, Colorado, home where she and her husband (and dog Zoe) can be found hiking, foodie-ing, or attempting to tear up the slopes.
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