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Hewlett-Packard has announced further enhancements to elements of its PartnerOne channel program, including changes to the Growth Accelerator rebate program and increased benefits for Elite partners.

The Growth Accelerator program was introduced in March 2007, and was designed to pay partners based on meeting or exceeding quarterly and yearly growth targets. The program came under fire from partners that complained that the goals were too aggressive and were extremely difficult to meet. Since the rebates were based on sales numbers from the previous year, partners that experienced seasonal fluctuations in their business had difficulty meeting their goals. 

The new version of the program will pay partners a flat percentage on every dollar sold, and if partners meet or exceed their growth goals, the percentage they are paid will increase, said Tom LaRocca, HP’s vice president of partner development and programs. Though he did not disclose hard numbers, LaRocca said it would be possible for partners to double or even triple their percentages.

For Elite partners, the potential payoff is even greater, LaRocca said, since partners who achieve their Elite certifications receive higher rebates than standard enterprise partners.

HP will also make changes to the payment structure for HP’s Server Elite, Storage Elite, Blade Elite and Services Elite partners, LaRocca said. Partners must complete certifications and training to achieve the elite designation in certain enterprise technology categories, he said.

LaRocca said the change applied to the rebate amounts HP paid partners when they made sales into named and unnamed accounts.

"Right now, the rebate we’ve been paying when they make a sale into our named accounts isn’t as high as when they sell into unnamed accounts," LaRocca said. Now, he said, partners will receive a standard percentage no matter the account, bringing partners a more consistent, predictable revenue stream, he said.

While LaRocca admitted that partners would get paid the lower named account percentage, he stressed that the money HP saved was being used to fund the revamped Growth Accelerator payment structure, which he said partners had been asking for and were pleased about.

Click here for an analysis of HP’s PartnerOne program as a work in progress.

LaRocca said the program changes should provide incentive for more HP partners to strive for Elite designations. He said HP was seeing an increase in the number of partners that went through the training and certification process to become Elite partners, and also that partners that were already certified Elite in one area were adding others to their skill set.

"We’re seeing a steady increase on a quarter-by-quarter basis, even from partners who are already Elite in one area," LaRocca said. He explained that, if a Blade Elite partner sold into an account that also needed storage, it could be a competitive advantage to also be a Storage Elite partner. 

"If you’re not also Storage Elite, another partner could come in and sell storage solutions to your account," he said. The value in adding more elite category designations, LaRocca said, lay in a deeper relationship with accounts and an increase in Elite partner benefits.

LaRocca said HP was adding new categories to the Elite structure, including a Printing Elite designation, and new business continuity and disaster recovery services under the Services Elite umbrella.  

LaRocca also said HP’s printing group was increasing the number of demonstration units available for partners from one per quarter to three. He said the change was driven by partners that said they could close more printing business with an increased number of demonstration units.

One Southern California HP partner who wished to remain anonymous said that while the changes were positive, he often found it was difficult to keep up with all of the program changes.

LaRocca said these changes would go into effect May 1, at the beginning of the vendor’s fiscal third quarter.