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Hewlett-Packard Corp., this week set in stone which of its current customers were fair game for its direct sales force, and left the remainder to channel partners as part of a redefined go-to-market approach.

Current customers on a list of “named accounts” will continue to be targeted by the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s in-house sales force, but the company will cease pursuing new customers, it announced yesterday.

New customers and current customers not on the “named accounts” list are the sole property of channel partners, a company spokesman said yesterday.

“Customers on the ‘named accounts’ list are fair game for Partners to pursue, but HP may never pursue customers off the list,” said Glenn Rossman, an HP spokesman.

“Named accounts,” will typically be some of HP’s larger customers, Rossman said, reserving small and midsize businesses for partners.

HP also closed its direct call center, in Colorado Springs, the source of many of the new customers for HP’s sales team.

It will instead operate a smaller call center to field in-bound sales calls, which will continue to be the property of HP’s sales team and support Channel partners’ sales efforts, HP said.

HP will not reveal which customers are on the list or provide estimates of the numbers involved. Partners may ask HP to clarify a customer’s status on a case-by-case basis, Rossman said.

Click here to read about HP’s latest revisions to its PartnerOne program on

Despite a continuation of direct sales and a murky picture as to which customers are on and off limits to HP, partners generally considered the move a step in the right direction, said Rick Chernick, CEO of Connecting Point Computer Centers, Green Bay, Wisc., a VAR serving SMBs between 100 and 500 seats.

“One of the things we’ve been arguing about with them is to ‘stop taking our customers,’” Chernick said. “And this isn’t just HP, it’s a trend. Companies are out there making cold calls to our customers, confusing them, stealing them or snatching up new ones before we ever even had the chance. This at least puts an end to that.”

HP will also incorporate VARs into deal with “named accounts” for implementation on a regular basis, Rossman said.