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As Rick Chernick, president of Camera Corner Connecting Point, an HP solution provider in Green Bay, Wis., said, "Mark Hurd gets it. You have to think small to get big."
Added Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN Corp., a Waltham, Mass.-based HP solution provider, "Mark Hurd understands that HP needs to get more aggressive at the street level and now everything is moving in that direction."
Hurd's channel push and solution providers' response to it should go a long way in fixing holes in HP's channel relationships. According to the Channel Champs data, while HP scored more overall category wins by a large margin, its one shortcoming was in its efforts to manage channel conflict. In storage management software, for example, HP finished third in the channel conflict criterion despite having the highest overall program and support satisfaction rating. That scenario repeated itself in the notebooks and mobile computers category, where HP tied for second in managing channel conflict.
But solution providers noted that a sure route to Channel Champion status is for vendors to closely sync their marketing plans with their channel partners and to remain consistent with their channel programs. "A strong channel program is where the vendor works with their resellers to try to drive business together," said Manuel Villa, president of Via Technology LLC, a solution provider in San Antonio.
Villa added that joint marketing between the vendor and the solution provider is key. "I'm talking about inviting vendor representatives into joint [face-to-face] marketing sessions with customers. We have the customers and the vendors have the products."
Villa cited Fortinet Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., and SonicWall Inc., also in Sunnyvale and Channel Champs award winner in the SMB WLANs category, as two of his vendors that are proactively going after business with him in joint marketing programs.
Simplicity and ease of doing business are hallmarks of Channel Champions, solution providers said. "The majority of the vendors try to push product, solutions and software," noted Brian Deeley, manager of Graymar Business Solutions Inc., a solution provider in Timonium, Md. "It's all about selling something for them, but you have to jump through all of these hoops to reap the rewards of their channel programs."
But he said that Intel Corp., the 2008 Channel Champion in the client and server processor category, is the exception. "All Intel wants us to do is promote and sell their products," he said. "We don't have to report our sales to them or track our rebates. We simply make Intel motherboard and processor
purchases through authorized Intel distributors, and Intel sends us rebates based on distribution point-of-sale records. Every vendor could learn from Intel," Deeley said.
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