Dell has revealed further details of its much anticipated channel program, including specifics on a tiering structure and certifications in various competencies.
According to Paul Bell, president of the Americas for the Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker, who shared the details about the new program in an interview with Channel Insider, the United States and Europe will run an identical program, with some Eastern European and African countries already running an indirect strategy.
Formerly a direct-only company, Dell has been developing a formal channel program and it plans to unveil the full program before the end of the year.
Bell, however, did reveal that as part of the program, VARs can use a Dell “authorized reseller” logo and marketing materials provided by the company. “Authorized resellers” are expected to be the entry-level program tier in what Bell said will be a multiple-tier channel partner program. “We have been doing this on an informal basis, but partners have told us that they want a Dell logo for their marketing packs and so the customer can recognize who they are selling,” he said.
Dell will also offer channel partners certification on specific competencies such as storage, and on products such as PowerVault, Bell said. These certifications are designed to assure end customers that solution providers are experts on the technology, Bell said. “We have thousands of solution providers that specialize in storage and they wanted more support in technical certifications. We will go into the channel in phases, and there will be a list of competencies in phase one, then we will flesh the list out as we go along.”
Bell acknowledged that the sales commission structure for Dell field representatives may also experience some changes, and “our direct sales teams will be properly incentivized to work with the channel.” Dell field sales representatives who do team sales with channel partners will likely be working with a greater number of channel partners and do more volume to make up any commission percentage loss with total dollar volume, he added.
Another internal adjustment to aid the program will include a single account management team to handle channel business instead of dividing account management responsibilities based on market segment, something that the vendor has already started doing, according to Bell.
Bell also emphasized the vendor’s reliance on channel partner feedback when developing the channel program, and said the program will offer deal registration, one of the major demands Dell received from that feedback. Partners also wanted to have a direct relationship with Dell and not to go through distribution. “We won’t rule it out in all cases, but for our core business, we will not use distributors; partners like dealing directly with us and we want to build on that,” he said.
Dell has had channel relationships for years, Bell said, but resources weren’t put in place to actively grow that side of the business.
“Our sales strategy was decentralized and working fine, but we think that the sum here is greater than the parts,” he said.
Bell said that Dell’s indirect sales currently comprise 15 percent of revenue, and the indirect side of Dell’s business has been growing faster than the direct side for some time. He said the indirect channel has experienced growth of about one or two percentage points over the last nine months and that Dell expects more aggressive growth from the indirect segment once the formal program is launched.