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Dell laptop launch ignores partners

Dell launched a new line of laptops today, once again favoring its direct sales strategy over its channel program.

I received the press release in my inbox this afternoon. Not only is there no mention of the channel, there are links to two pages that create obvious channel conflict: one where customers can customize and purchase laptops and desktops directly from Dell, and another where customers can learn about support, consulting and managed services — again, provided directly by Dell.

The only mention of the channel’s role in this product launch is on the Dell Channel Blog — ironically, in a post about how Dell isn’t going to ignore partners in its major announcements any more.

On the blog, Dell channel community manager Amie Paxton says Dell is “committed to talking with the channel about our products and services and how you can maximize your opportunities.” There’s also a video featuring Jeff Johnson, a Dell channel marketing executive, talking about channel opportunities with the new line of laptops.

It’s great that Paxton and Johnson are speaking directly to partners, but if Dell really wants to show its commitment to the channel, the channel angle has to be part of Dell’s official announcements. The press release is a lot more visible than the blog is, and a lot of people who read the release now have the impression that there’s no partner play with these laptops. I would have the same impression if I hadn’t thought to check the Dell Channel Blog before I wrote this post.

This product launch is not the first time Dell has ignored the channel in a major press release. Dell has acknowledged that it will take some time to completely shift the corporate mindset to a more partner-friendly approach, and this latest product launch shows that there’s still a ways to go.

UPDATE (8/13): Dell has posted marketing materials and other sales resources for partners who want to sell the new laptops. The resources are also available for partners in 12 foreign countries.

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Colin, I was waiting for someone to call us out on this, in fact it’s one of the reasons that Amie got the post up on the channel blog so quickly. We’re working closely with the new products and marketing teams to make sure that if product launches impact the channel, then channel gets well represented. While we’re still working to make sure this process is as fluid as possible, we missed the mark for this launch, no doubt, but we got the word up as quickly as we could with the best medium we had available, which was the channel blog. And from reading your post, it seems to have worked. This didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped it would, but with people like you being on top of your game, the word gets out quickly. Our apologies that the channel wasn’t better covered on this launch, but our thanks to you for helping us get the word out. As you said in your guest blog, “no other vendor has such an uphill climb to win over the channel”, you’re right on the money there. We’re working to better our channel announcements for future product launches, and we’ll look at this as noted learning experience. Thanks, Mike Bukowski Dell Channel Liaison