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If it’s true that the IT channel runs primarily on relationships, then Dell’s Greg Davis has a big weight on his shoulders.

The channel chief for the computing giant that made a name for itself by selling direct to customers this week faced a roomful of solution providers to make the case that Dell would be a good vendor partner for them.

It was the second time Davis put himself on the spot at a Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit gathering, this one in Dallas. The first time was last fall in Chicago.

To read about the reception Davis got in Chicago, click here.

Projecting calm and addressing every question with straight-talk answers, Davis stressed that he is approaching the relationship with the channel the same way Dell has dealt with customers, which he summed up as "driving efficiencies." To Dell, he said, channel partners are another group of customers, and as such, the vendor is not setting quarterly or annual volume goals for solution providers to meet.

"You’re a customer," he said. "I don’t want to give you a quota. How many customers do you give quotas to?"

Davis has spent much of his time since he took over the channel position at Dell last August meeting with partners to find out what they are looking for from vendors. While doing so, he also expends a fair amount of energy mending fences with a channel that has traditionally had, at best, an uneasy relationship with the vendor.

As it did in Chicago, the question came up in Dallas of whether the solution providers present would do business with Dell, regardless of the history. A few hands went up to indicate they would and a few shot up to indicate they wouldn’t.

The vast majority of attendees didn’t raise their hands either way. It was perhaps an indication that they could be talked into working with the vendor. In some cases, however, it was because solution provider resells little or no hardware.

As he did after the Chicago meeting, Davis said that he will contact the solution providers that said they wouldn’t work with Dell to see if they will change their minds. In at least one case since Chicago, he has been able to talk a solution provider into doing business with Dell.