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Five Years in the Channel and Counting

 

While once considered the antithesis of a being a channel friendly company in the last five years Dell has evolved to the point where it now counts over 130,000 solution providers in its channel program.

To help celebrate that fact Dell has created a new $100 million special discount program that partners selling over $100,000 worth of enterprise-class storage, server and networking products over the past five years can now avail themselves of between now and February 1st. The discount is limited to 5 percent of the net quoted amount on Dell Enterprise products up to the specific amount based on the partner’s total spend with Dell; and solution providers can choose to apply that discount to one deal or multiple deals.

According to Kathy Schneider, global executive director of channel marketing at Dell, the discount program is intended to commemorate five years of having a formal channel program at Dell in the run up to the Dell World 2012 conference. During that time Dell has not only embraced the channel, it has transformed itself. Recent acquisition span critical storage, networking and systems management capabilities that turned Dell from being a leading supplier of PCs that dabbled in enterprise server sales into a force to reckoned with across the enterprise.

In the last five years Dell acquisitions have included Equallogic, Compellent, SonicWALL, KACE Networks, Force10 Networks and Quest Software. In each instance, Schneider says Dell has taken pains to integrate the channel partners of those vendors within the larger Dell PartnerDirect program, while striving to protect the best aspects of any of those individual programs. Making sure Dell remains simple to do business with is a high priority, so each the channel programs of each new acquisition have to weighed against making sure Dell’s overall channel program doesn’t become too complex for partners to engage with Dell.

Schneider also credits Dell’s success in the channel to providing free training to partners and making sure that partners can effectively sell the entire Dell portfolio along with their own valued-added services, versus only specializing in, for example, storage. That not only creates more profitable opportunities for the partners; it better reflects how Dell wants to go to market, says Schneider.

In that time Schneider says she has seen Dell partners become a lot more sophisticated about not only the solutions they build, but also how they bring those offerings to market as technologies continue to converge. Right now, there a 3,600 Preferred and Premier Dell partners, the vast majority of which have attained competencies in specific solution areas. Schneider says her next major goal is to make sure that Dell is a lot more efficient about targeting its marketing spend by soliciting more input from solution providers on where to target that spending. In addition, she envisions Dell creating more special programs that will promote the adoption of Dell offerings such as workstations and third-party application software.

There’s no do doubt that some solution providers remain conflicted about Dell. It’s fair to say there are probably a few souls at Dell that just as conflicted. But by and large it appears that not only have the majority of Dell channel partners learned to live with Dell, many of them are actually thriving beyond expectations.

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