VARs Still Doubtful over HP Promises

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print

HP says it will go "All Out" for partners, but will partners go "All In" for HP? 

Partners have expressed skepticism over Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd’s announcement Feb. 25 that if solution providers are willing to go "All In" on HP products and services the vendor will go "all out" to help them succeed. 

At HP’s partner conference in Las Vegas, running from Feb. 25-27, one VAR who wished to remain anonymous said the "All In" promise, verbalized by Hurd and splashed across banners, posters and event collateral, made her feel as though partnering with HP is a gamble that partners might lose.

Hurd's keynote accentuated the vendor's growth and the strength of its channel partner organization, but he also acknowledged the vendor's shortcomings.  Hurd admitted that the company still struggles to eradicate channel conflict and is sometimes slow to respond to partner needs and that partners often have a difficult time engaging with the vendor.

Click here to read more about Mark Hurd's keynote at the partner conference. 

Ryan Vestby, executive vice president of CompuVision, an HP partner based in Edmonton, Alberta, said that while he appreciated Hurd's candor in admitting to HP's flaws, it did little to placate him.

"He didn't do much more than take the bullets from the gun, so to speak," Vestby said. "If a customer calls you, irate about three things, the best thing to do is admit to those three mistakes and then say, 'This is what we are doing to fix it,'" he said, adding that the tactic didn't do anything to alleviate the problems, though it may have served to ease some VARs' minds.

Another HP partner based in Florida, who did not wish to be identified, told Channel Insider that Hurd's message and acknowledgment of HP's shortcomings resonated with him, and that his company have not only experienced the issues Hurd mentioned, but have lost deals due to conflict with HP's direct sales teams.  

"I think the keynote was right on," the VAR said, adding that his company has lost large deals because of HP's snail's pace.  "It would take weeks to put an order, a deal together," he said, because of the time it took to get deal registration approvals or order fulfillment. "They're just slow," he said.

Click hear to read how Mark Hurd will go out onto the channel street.

The solution provider said that HP also circumvented the VAR and closed some deals with its direct sales force.  "We introduced our HP representative to a couple of opportunities we were working on," he said, "and the next thing we knew, they told us, 'We'll be handling the relationship from now on.'"

Hurd said in his keynote that the channel is a key weapon in HP's go-to-market strategy, and that HP's sales force is not encouraged to close deals via a direct-sales model. Hurd said HP does its best to make sure the channel is the preferred method of generating demand and driving business, but inferred that there is a time and place for each sales model. 

The difficulty, Hurd said, is avoiding a situation such as "a bunch of 5-year-olds at a soccer game, where everyone rushes to try to get part of the same ball. We need players to play their position and create demand in their own spaces."

Hurd also asked for a little patience from partners as he and other executives try to rectify many channel partner complaints. "It's not that we don't get it, it's not that we don't listen. We do, and we are trying as hard as we can and going as fast as we can to get the company where it needs to be," Hurd said.



Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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