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Cheryl Cook, Dell's new channel chief, on direct, indirect incentives, more

At Dell World 2013, Cheryl Cook, Dell's new channel chief, discussed partner program changes the company announced this week.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Cheryl Cook, Dell's recently appointed vice president and general manager of the company's global commercial channel, chatted with SearchITChannel at Dell World 2013 here today about her job responsibilities, goals and what Dell channel partners need to know about the company's new channel chief and what's on her plate going forward. Dell currently has about 140,000 partners worldwide, about 4,200 of which are certified partners.

Can you clarify for partners how your role as channel chief differs from that of your predecessor, Greg Davis?

Cheryl Cook: It's not exactly the same role. I have all of our global channels and alliances for strategy, programs, route to market and distribution, and it includes our PartnerDirect program, OEM business, global alliances -- which was not a part of Greg's organization -- it includes our global system integrators. So, classic partner, channel, distribution, as well as strategic ISVs and global alliances.

I'm still responsible for the overall channel and indirect business strategy, but Greg had more of a global, self-contained organization that was a bit of a silo. The actions that we've just taken are to take our sales coverage -- i.e., our CAMs [channel account managers] covering our partners -- and integrate that into our sales regions. The only real difference is that they [have a] dotted line to me and [a] hard line into a president of the region. We're still going to preserve and maintain dedicated channel sales coverage.

So our partners are still going to have a CAM and SE [sales engineer] to go to so that their interactions and experience with Dell should improve. We still want to be simple to do business with, and all of the engagement around access to our programs and marketing will be the same. We're hoping that the engagement will improve and that the route to market, territory planning and country-level coverage strategy will now be aligned around our direct and indirect.

We want velocity in decision making; we want to rationalize our direct and indirect coverage and strategies, and I want to remove any barriers to collaboration and communication.

For our partners, I hope they would feel all the benefit, the continuity, a lot of consistency with where the program was, with improved engagement and predictability in engagement.

Dell talks about wanting greater market reach and technical expertise. Does Dell want to grow its channel partner base?

I'm going to pursue targeted lists of accounts, [from which] I'm going to team [direct sales] with the channel to go pursue.

Cheryl Cook, Dell's vice president and general manager of the global commercial channel

Cook: Absolutely. We're outpacing the market today. When I look at how fast our indirect business is growing, it's easily outpacing market growth by two to three times. We want to maintain that momentum and, frankly, grow it even more. I think if we can get more purposeful in our coverage that aligns incentives and marketing (certainly with our direct team, where we're going to sell with the partners) and the more the mix of our of business continues to grow in the enterprise solution space -- which is really where these partners bring so much value -- the more our channel revenues are going to grow.

What are your goals for 2014?

Cook: My goals are to continue to be really simple to do business with; I want to ensure that we're offering robust training and certifications so that our partners can expand in our portfolio; we recently launched our software certifications. I want to grow the number of aligned partners so they can participate more broadly with our line. And, I want more revenue share of our partners' business. I want to be more of a trusted provider for them.

I know that our partners have options and a lot of those options are pure-play providers … as an end-to-end provider, I want them to intrinsically see the value in them broadening their relationship with Dell. So a lot of our incentives around our Premier, Preferred and DoMore program are aimed exactly at that. Our DoMore program incents and rewards partners to become certified and participate in multiple lines of business (LOBs) with Dell. So the more that they align and invest with us -- servers, storage, networking, software -- the more incentives they're offered.

Our DoMore partners' business is growing at a much faster rate than some of the others. I'm not looking to oversubscribe our partner community or ecosystem. I'd rather grow more deeply with several of these highly aligned partners. And they're bringing tremendous value-added capabilities and skills around our IP. [Dell has a few dozen DoMore partners.]

I also want to see more alignment around our strategic solutions going forward. So the incentives that we announced [this week] are consciously incenting my partners and my direct team. I'm aligning both my direct and indirect incentives for teaming and for where we want to jointly go sell, but [doing so] around strategic solution areas, and they're high margin. The areas are networking, storage, workstations, Dell software and thin clients. In these areas, partners bring tremendous value. My Dell team needs the help. We're experiencing strong growth in those new areas, so the announcements that we made are all aimed at aligning so I can get that faster-than-market growth through the partners in those solution areas.

More from Dell World 2013

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Dell announces plans to bring the channel into named accounts

Dell software and services ambitions hinge on new cloud partnerships

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So we announced the 20% "accelerators" for my team to work with partners around those solutions. I also announced that we're increasing our Partner Advantage Rewards system by [four times] – which is incentive to the partners for those strategic solution areas. And then the other announcement that we made was around increasing our investment in the demo pool and access to equipment. We know that they need easy and affordable access to equipment for proof of concept, labs, demos. It's the fuel, the catalyst to be able to get it to our mutual customers to grow our business.

The other thing from a coverage perspective is we consciously announced that we want to take my Dell direct sales reps in the U.S. and focus them more narrowly on customers. So, I'm not going to have a Dell rep cover 200 accounts; instead, they'll cover a much narrower number of accounts. When I do that, I'm going to create targeted lists of accounts, [from which] I'm going to team [direct sales] with the channel to go pursue.

This is to get us more purposeful and transparent. Let's get deliberate on how we want to drive our coverage, and we want to team with our partners as we do that planning effort.

I want Dell to be known as one of the best, innovative, disruptive technology companies around, with a really robust and healthy set of capabilities, both direct and through our partners, to help solve customer business problems.

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