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There is a saying: If it looks like desperation and it smells like desperation, then, more than likely, it is desperation.

And that is exactly what Mark Hurd displayed at the HP partner conference today. Never have I heard a CEO of one of the biggest technology companies in the world offer to sit with partners’ customers in order to get the deal done.

HP is having a tough time. Its enterprise business in the U.S. is being affected by the economic environment, and its SMB business is being affected by rivals jumping on the bandwagon and eating away at its revenues. Not only that, but as Dell seeks to align itself with most of the largest retailers across the world (for the very first time), it seems HP’s market share here is also under threat.

So, what is a company to do? First, it is good news that HP has admitted that it is under pressure and that it needs help. This alone means that it can start doing something about it.

Second, it is great news for partners. HP has freely admitted that it can be slow to help partners register deals and to get fulfillment done; therefore, the time is ripe for partners to call their HP rep and ask for better special pricing, better bid terms and better marketing assistance to help drive the much-needed demand for HP in the SMB sector.

Mark Hurd’s plea to partners should be seen as a milestone in HP history — the company has recognized how much it needs partners, and this can only be a good thing for its channel. Having recognized its difficulties, HP can now not only do something about them, but must also ensure that it doesn’t forget all the things that made it great — it has a fantastic brand name in the industry, including among SMEs, and it has great technology, a point that must be stressed by partners — along with its ability to change, something we are all witnessing right now.