Service with a smile
Another lure is a strong service offering. "Dell has a pretty darn good service offering when it comes to business-to-business," according to Christina Richmond, an IDC analyst covering hardware infrastructure channels and alliances. "VARs selling into the SMB market need the peace of mind that they can make a sale and get hardware serviced quickly, if needed. And, Dell provides that."
Particularly when working the channel partners, Dell goes above and beyond in making sure that problems get fixed. "When it comes to fixing problems, Dell is the best," said Burley. "One time, they took only an hour and a half to get a replacement mouse."
For a large solution provider, such as EDS, Dell's ability to provide products worldwide is another plus.
"Dell certainly brings a quality set of products for us and they have a global reach," Trevorrow said. "It is important for us to have a partner we can count on around the globe."
For most resellers, the decision to sell Dell is less their own than their customers'.
In its marketing, ICS stresses its focus on Dell products as a marketing strategy. "We get calls based on the fact that customers know we are a Dell representative," said Burley. "The name recognition gives us a foot in the door, and then we give them the support of helping them decide what they need."
Looking for more
Although largely satisfied with Dell as a partner, solution providers do have areas where the company could improve. The company's long-term commitment to a stable hardware platform, for example, is a two-edged sword.
"The only thing we miss with Dell right now is that they are not an early technology adopter," Trevorrow said. "When there are new technologies, Dell's competitors tend to adopt and embrace them slightly quicker than Dell. They may be four to six months behind on the latest and greatest features."
Although VARs laud Dell for customer service and pricing, channel partners do suggest that Dell could do more to make information accessible to the channel.
"Dell has done pretty well in supporting its hardware, but we don't have dedicated technical support," Burley said. "We have to call into the queue. Dell said that it decided not to isolate the channel for support calls."
In the main, though, solution providers give Dell top marks and say they will continue to buy. Whatever Dell has to say (or not say) about the relationship.Click here to read about the most compelling reasons VARs work with Dell, despite its love/hate relationship with the channel.