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Then there's the great belly of the Dell direct monster that must be fed daily by the millions of orders coming from the company's own internal sales engine. The channel, thus far, is but a mere morsel to whet the giant's appetite, but the potential for a greater meal has the company intrigued. And therein lies the rub. How do you keep the company going while trying to convince former competitors that you want them as friends? Dell is learning along the way.
"I think we recognize that it will take time to build out full relationships and full programs for channels. I don't know anyone who has built strong [channel] progams in weeks," Davis said. "We're dedicated to this. We continue to listen to partners at [our] field conferences, where no one is bashful to tell us where to focus our time and effort."
If not great strides, the company has taken small but measurable steps thus far.
One long-time exclusive Hewlett-Packard solution provider who requested anonymity said he is exploring a partnership with Dell because of the vendor's EqualLogic acquisition and Dell's existing relationship with EMC.
"HP has holes in its storage product lines and Dell has made big investments in storage," the HP partner said.
Few partners are now selling a complete Dell solution -- with hardware, storage and managed services -- but that's where the company wants to get, Davis said. Dell believes its value proposition to VARS -- judging by feedback from partners -- lies in custom configured products, lower costs and a broad array of solutions.
"Our value proposition is simplifying IT, [the solution provider's] work, to enable them to be a better CIO for their customer," Davis said. "It's a very similar message to the rest of our business. Delivering custom configured products form our factory, pre-loaded with software is a big opportunity for our partners. It eliminates costs and leverages what Dell has been doing direct for years. Deliver customer configs of Quantity 1 is what Dell is very good at. Partners interested in being the CIO for their customers are very interested in being partners with us."
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