The pilot began about 10 days ago and involves some 500 to 600 SMB accounts, which Dell defines as fewer than 500 employees, according to the Round Rock, Texas-based Dell. It's unclear how many solution providers are involved in the pilot, but if it is successful Dell would like to roll it out publicly before the end of the year, said Greg Davis, vice president and general manager of Dell's Americas Channel Group.
"We're working through the operational elements now. It's pretty early and premature to know to say and#91;how it will developand#93;. I would like to have at least 60 to 90 days to get back to you," Davis told ChannelWeb. "This is an exciting one for our channel, but it's one we have to get right. I know everyone would love to push me to do something in a week or a month, but this something we want to get right. It's also something that my competitors, to the best of my knowledge, don't have."
The program appears to be unique among major IT vendors. Smaller manufacturers sometimes offer account registration because they simply don't have a large partner base and can assign specific VARs to geographic areas or vertical markets such as education, but traditional thinking has held that large vendors have too broad a reach for that to work as an efficient model.
For example, Hewlett-Packard Co. uses deal registration as a "deal-specific" tool for pricing and partner financial benefit tracking, but does not have a customer registration program, according to a spokesman for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company.
Several solution providers said they were not aware of account-based registration programs from any major vendor.
"It's a bold move. I don't see many other large companies looking at how to reward resellers who are doing the right things, driving business and building long-term-relationships with clients," said Tim Hebert, president and CEO of Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based solution provider. "If and#91;account registrationand#93; will do what they say, they will create a phenomenal program that will be something all companies will look at as a milestone and something to replicate."
But first they have to get it right, which is no small task. Solution providers said a customer registration program would require a very specific set of parameters and include a mountain of administrative work to keep straight.
"I think it's a good idea, don't get me wrong, but there has to be a reason that you're able to register that account. It has to be a reason other than 'I know they exist,'" said Pat Walsh, owner of Computer Station of Florida, Longwood, Fla.
NEXT: Dell's Direct Sales Role In the Program