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Hewlett-Packard Co., last month, launched an advisory council of its small and midsize business resellers to help guide its route to the SMB market and its relationships with its 15,000 partners in the space.

Eighteen of the hardware vendor’s SMB resellers will serve as a channel of dialogue between HP decision makers and VARs, helping to craft strategy, product decisions and PartnerOne programs, the company and council members said. The group held its initial meeting on Nov. 17.

“We are primarily concerned with making sure the programs HP introduces are going to be effective,” said President Rick Chernick, newly installed council president, and CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, based in Green Bay, Wis.

“HP’s being smart. They want to make sure they have the input, to make sure we bring the right program to market, before it gets there.”

Chernick said a key concern of council members will be to ensure that HP’s strategy remains focused on the customer.

Already this year, HP has altered channel strategy in response to partner guidance and comment. In November, the hardware vendor reshaped its PartnerOne Program, and executives announced just weeks ago that it would aim its direct sales force only at a small number of “named accounts.”

Click here to read about HP’s ruling on which current customers are fair game for its direct sales force.

The SMB council replaces a disjointed collage of groups that previously filled the role, Chernick said.

The latest organization is comprised of a “proper mix” of large resellers, including CDW Corp. and PC Mall Inc., as well as smaller shops, like his own and Bayshore Technologies Inc., of Tampa, Fla., a system integrator and HP reseller. Membership will rotate annually.

Read Contributing Editor Pedro Pereira’s commentary here on why HP’s future looks bright.

Kris Rogers, executive vice president of sales at PC Mall, was installed as council vice president, and Chernick said he expects to add an executive council in the weeks ahead.

The council will meet in person twice a year and hold conference calls at least every 60 days, Chernick said, while council leadership will communicate weekly.