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Dell PartnerDirect Summit: Dell's partner alignment shaping up

Partners report that their relationship with Dell has improved due to the vendor's efforts to better align its direct and indirect sales forces.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Getting Dell's innovation and products in front of as many businesses as possible is the fuel behind the company's growing reliance on channel partners, especially at a time when customers prefer to go through a partner procurement process 70% of the time, noted Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president of Dell yesterday at the Dell PartnerDirect Summit being held here.

In fact, Haas stated that the opportunity for Dell and partners to work together is big and announced that Dell will continue the 20% compensation accelerator program, introduced last December, to incent its inside sales team to work with partners.

In a press conference on Tuesday, company founder Michael Dell repeated a theme he touched upon at Dell Solutions Summit in Brussels, Belgium, in September: The company hasn't set an upper limit on how much business it hopes to drive through the channel as part of its omni-channel sales strategy. Channel-driven revenue at Dell edged over 40% this past year, the highest ever for the company.

Just one year out since Michael Dell took the company private, channel partners at PartnerDirect Summit told SearchITChannel that they've seen improvement in the vendor's efforts to better align its direct and indirect sales forces.

One partner summed up the effort best: It's a work in progress.

Advanticom Inc. has been a Dell partner for about seven years, and the partner's relationship with Dell has certainly gotten better over the years. "I think some of Dell's acquisitions -- Sonic Wall and others that were more channel-based -- showed them how the channel is actually supposed to work, but it's still not where it needs to be," said Stephen Sherwin, solutions architect manager at Advanticom.

Sherwin said that Advanticom has seen some positive action in some of Dell's groups, like the Sonic Wall team and some areas of software. "But when it comes to our typical EqualLogic, Compellent, server shops, we'll go into some places where the customer wants to work with us -- we're their trusted advisor on other technologies -- but they have all these Dell Direct quotes that we can't even come close to," he said.

The long-term partner did say that it's only been a year since Dell went private and made a commitment to be more channel-focused and that he realizes that change takes time. That said, Sherwin noted that his company brings in a lot of Dell business and, he said, "I'd like Dell to do the same."

Daniel Morgan Heidt, general manager and thought leader at Access-Interactive, a Dell partner for three years, is a first-timer at Dell World. "Dell's been good to us, and it's galvanized our revenue so much that we feel like spending a week here is priceless," he said. That fact that the company is attending its first Dell World event, he said, is testimony to the changes that are taking place in Dell's partner program.

Fifty percent of Access-Interactive's business is in the data center, and Dell is the partner's fastest-growing business, according to Heidt. "In our local market we have really good [Dell] representation in the field, which makes them a pleasure to work with, and the loyalty and consistency has been awesome," he said, a change that was especially noticeable since the company went private a year ago.

Next Steps

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Has Dell's improved direct/indirect sales force alignment positively impacted your business?
So far it has made our upgrades and purchases of Dell products easier and much more reliable than prior experiences, so I do hope it continues.

carol482, are you a Dell Partner?

No, just a customer.