While the HP PartnerOne program will incorporate new specialist designations instead of “Elite partners” starting Nov. 1, the biggest changes for some partners will involve marketing development funds (MDFs) and new business opportunities.
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Hewlett-Packard Co. is joining other vendors preaching specialization and changing partner nomenclature every few years based on customer feedback.
HP recently announced that PartnerOne, which comprises 25,000 partners, will be divided by individual specialty in the new plan, including client virtualization, managed print, managed print advanced, document solution, app systems and advanced and professional networking designations. VARs say that this won’t affect their day-to-day operations.
Al Chien, vice president of sales and marketing for Dasher Technologies Inc., a data center, imaging and printing and personal systems company, said that though Dasher was “Elite” under the old terminology and now “specialists,” it will be business as usual.
On the other hand, partners are very much onboard with more money being funneled into MDFs. The Marketing Depot, for example, will offer partners more marketing and lead generation tools and services to drive more business. Chien said that new offerings such as the Marketing Depot means HP is starting to take notice of successful partners.
“[These changes] mean HP is making bigger bets with the partners who land big deals,” Chien said. “They’re being much more prescriptive with the way they deal with MDFs. They’ve opened more money for deals with the IPG [imaging and printing group] and managed print services.”
HP’s focus on the IPG group isn’t a huge part of his own business, but Chien sees this as a sign that HP wants to engage partners with new business opportunities.
“For a partner, it’s tough finding new business, and it seems like HP is supportive and wants to help us find net-new opportunities,” he said.
‘Elite’ is out, specialists are in
Though John Barker, president of Versatile Communications, doesn’t think these new designations will affect his business all that much, the changes to HP technical services offerings caught his eye. The incentives included with the new ServiceOne specialization allows a company such as Versatile to offer its own services as well as HP-branded services.
“HP has clearly made it more lucrative to offer these services and is leveraging partners to boost sales,” Barker said.
For example, as part of the IPG, document solutions specialists can now offer managed print services with 7% up-front discounts, and back-end rebates will become front-end rebates for these specialized partners.
According to Michael Nordstrom, director of Americas channel marketing in HP's solutions partner organization (SPO), the company decided on the new nomenclature for partners because of customer feedback. “Customers want partner business expertise to be the differentiator,” Nordstrom said.