Dell's official channel program, PartnerDirect, hit the public Wednesday, and was met by varying degrees of hope, excitement, skepticism and cynicism -- with company executives acknowledging it will take a lot of time and elbow grease to make it work.
The Round Rock, Texas-based company chose its new focus on managed services as a centerpiece of presentations to reporters, analysts and resellers themselves, with executives saying more than once that "value over volume" has been a key demand of channel partners.
Almost 500 solution providers tuned in for a "virtual town hall meeting" via conference call and Internet presentation, and tossed out a series of questions to Greg Davis, vice president and general manager of Dell's Americas channels group. Dell announced its formal channel program Wednesday, after 23 years of building a direct PC organization from top to bottom.
The company seeks to double the number of solution providers now selling Dell products over the next three years, and it will provide more than 360 channel sales representatives at the outset to work exclusively with channel partners.
In addition, Dell launched a deal registration program, partner portal and said it would begin the formal work of growing channel sales. Dell sales representatives will now be compensated equally whether deals close directly to end users or through the channel - a move Davis said could go a long way toward eliminating incentives steal partners' business.
That topic was one of several questions thrown at Davis during the channel town hall.
"What prevents Dell's direct team from marketing to our customers once we have them registered?," asked one solution provider in a written question submitted electronically during the forum.
"Through our deal registration process, we go through a process to understand -- 'Are we already engaged at Dell with that opportunity, and have we already sold that product direct to the end user prior to registering it with the partner?,'" Davis said. "Once we verify and we register that opportunity, we communicate to our teams that this is a deal that we registered with our partner and we will be working with our partner exclusively to win this opportunity and they are not to be marketing to our customers for this opportunity."
Davis said that while not every deal submitted to Dell's deal registration program would be accepted by the company, "We will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours with an answer. And for those that we have registered, we will reduce conflict and we will not proactively market to your customers once we have registered those opportunities."
Another solution provider, in writing, asked, "Will the channel have channel-specific products (from Dell?)"
Next: Davis Addresses solution providers' Concerns