Direct From Dell: GeoPartner Program Gives Leads To VARs4:51 PM EST Mon. Dec. 17, 2012
Dell has quietly launched a new program with a select group of solution providers in which Dell's direct sales force utilizes the channel partners for pre-sales configuration and post-sales implementation and support.
Traditionally, solution providers have been asked by vendors to mark up and sell the vendor's professional services, but the new program entails Dell marking up and selling the VAR's services, executives said.
The GeoPartner Program allows Dell direct sales reps to leverage local partners to deliver services but carry the sale on Dell paper in order to recognize the revenue and profits towards their own sales quotas, according to executives.
Greg Davis, vice president and general manager of Dell's global commercial channel, called the idea "reverse engineering" and said that between 20 and 40 solution providers are part of the program.
"Partners participate in the medium business space talking to customers about server consolidation. You might migrate them into VMware, etc. There are customers that want to interact with Dell direct. The customer values that relationship, but they need to do the same migration," Davis said at Dell's recent Dell World conference in Austin. "Rather than try to do it ourselves, there are lots of Dell partners in the local SMB market space. Let's subcontract those. We sell to the customer on our paper. It's a nice opportunity for some partners. It's a nice for Dell to utilize the resources of our resellers."
SL Powers, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based VAR, has helped Dell's direct sales team close several deals and helped Dell with some services capabilities upon deployment too, said Bob Hochmuth, vice president of sales.
The partnership blossomed after a Dell sales rep, Keith Hannah, was assigned to SL Powers, who helped facilitate meetings between additional Dell field reps and executives.
Eventually, Dell's direct sales team requested help with a deal that it had been trying to close for almost three years. SL Powers sent a pre-sales team to meet with the customer, and Dell closed the deal within 30 days, Hochmuth said.
"They said, 'Holy smokes, you just put that revenue on our books.' So they approached us with this GeoPartner relationship, and they sent jobs to us," Hochmuth said.
That first deal closed last May, and SL Powers has teamed with Dell on six additional engagements, with the VAR's profits hitting the five-figure mark, according to SL Powers.
"This relationship is still really in its infancy. I believe we are gaining momentum as our name and reputation is recognized by Dell team members in our regions," said Robbie Macdonald, director of sales operations at SL Powers.
The majority of our engagements focus on storage and virtualization, but every environment is different, Macdonald added. "Most of these engagements call for software migrations/upgrades as they transition to a new hardware platform. We have also been engaged with other deployments; one notable project was a 1,000-user Websense deployment in Washington [state]," he said.
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SL Powers' Hochmuth said he couldn't think of another vendor that so actively brings SL Powers into direct deals and that the relationship works because both sides respect each other's boundaries.
"They're incented obviously to close business every month and move on to the next thing. We put in the pre-sales work and a quote to the Dell rep. He sells and closes the business. We tell him how many hours we worked. Once it's closed, they send us the PO to do the work," he said. "The thing that made this possible is they incented the sales people to work with the channel and push [business] to partners like us."
Dell has been a channel-friendly and consistent vendor since the PartnerDirect channel program was launched five years ago, Hochmuth said. "All along, people say 'I'm impressed with what you're doing.' So we did more. Those guys see more value working together closer," he said.
Dell's Davis said the vendor isn't looking for thousands or even hundreds of partners for the Geo program. Rather, they've been judicious in selecting VARs by identifying specific skill sets to meet the needs of customers.
"As it sits right now, we want to provide a service where there's demand. The last thing we want to do is sign up partners to do work and then not have demand for them. We're not trying to expand it, but we're trying to grow that business as we need more partners," Davis said. "A customer that's buying Dell direct has services opportunities and services needs. We can package that together into one easy [package] that includes a service agreement with a partner in the area."
PUBLISHED DEC. 17, 2012