Some solution providers might be swayed

By Pedro Pereira  |  Print this article Print

With solution providers putting a premium on relationships with vendors, Dell’s channel chief has a lot of work to do. 

Marie Graziano, owner of Red Phoenix Systems, was one of the solution providers in Dallas who raised her hand to indicate she would never work with Dell. But after the session with Davis, she admitted that she would consider working with any vendor that can make money for her business, even Dell.

Since her company focuses primarily on services and does little hardware business, she said, the question is not all that important.

But her reaction was indicative of how solution providers tend to react to Davis, who answers questions in a straightforward way and, when he doesn't know the answer, says he will look into it and get back to the questioner. He even shared his e-mail address, encouraging solution providers to contact him directly.

But even though Davis gets a positive response, said observers and solution providers, the unease that grips potential Dell partners about doing business with the vendor has to do with the company's history of antagonism with the channel.

"He is good," Graziano said referring to Davis. "But I'm a great believer in corporate culture. Corporate culture is so ingrained. How can he change the corporate culture?"

Davis, she said, has to "figure out some way to have a relationship" with the channel.

Graziano was alluding to the importance of relationship and trust between vendor and partner. Relationships, after all, are what solution providers tend to focus on when talking about their vendor partners. How easy is the vendor to work with and can the vendor be trusted to not try to steal the partner's customer by going direct?

Davis acknowledged the challenge Dell faces in gaining trust in the channel, conceding that it will take time for everything to fall into place.

"I'm not here to tell you it's going to change overnight and that we're not going to have conflict," he said.

How much time remains to be seen, but however long it takes, Davis said after the session he will continue talking to partners and potential partners to learn their needs and allay their concerns. In two recent weeks, he said, Dell had three sessions with solution providers.

Communication is key, solution providers said. But in addition to hearing words, they said they will be keeping an eye on Dell's actions, and so long as Dell follows words with deeds, the vendor will be on its way to establishing a true relationship with the channel.



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