"Whitman needs to come out with a very clear message as to the direction that HP is going to go with the channel," said the CEO of another top HP partner. "That means a clear statement on the Personal Systems Group Spinoff, the Autonomy acquisition, HP's EDS business and what it all means for partners. The channel community represents the largest sales organization for HP. We need to be in the know --not in the I don't know."
Partners said they are anxious to see if Whitman has the passion and fire for building out an aggressive indirect sales channel that was front and center during former HP CEO Mark Hurd's tenure. Hurd regularly conducted joint sales calls with partners in the form of regional partner customer roundtables.
"I would urge her to continue the customer executive roundtables that were first initiated by Mark Hurd," said John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations for Denali Advanced Integration, one of HP's top national enterprise partners headquartered in Redmond, Wash. "We did two of those roundtables with Mark Hurd. Every customer who attended those is today loyal to Denali and HP and continues to be a customer."
Several partners, who did not want to be identified, blame the HP board of directors for the chaos and confusion that battered HP in the last year. "It was obvious to anybody with an eye on the company that Leo was the wrong guy when they hired him," said one HP partner. "The board did damage to the company and to the channel. They have eroded the fundamental trust that is essential for a productive relationship with partners. They are going to have to get it back."
One way to start to get that trust back is to put an HP solution provider CEO on the board of directors. It's not a far-fetched idea given that partners account in one way or another for the majority of HP's sales. What HP would gain is invaluable insight into what is going on in the sales trenches. That would rip the HP board out of what one partner calls the "reality-free zone" that it operates in when making decisions like spinning off the Personal Systems Group (PSG) business.
Chernick, for one, who has been selling technology products for 40 years and has built Camera Corner Connecting Point into one of the most respected solution providers in the country, feels that putting a partner on the board would bring a fresh perspective on the real-world business challenges facing customers and the channel. "The board could use a streetwise partner who knows what's going on in the field," says Chernick, a member of the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors.
He's right. Someone like Chernick, a down-to-earth, respected Midwest business leader who is not afraid to tell it like it is, would add a lot to a board of directors that could stand to go out on a few sales calls with partners.
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