Hewlett-Packard's vice president and general manager, Solution Partners Organization Americas, earned his stripes as the ARC Channel Executive of the Year for large companies in part because he's constantly talking with partners -- even when there are fires to put out.
When Everything Channel recently revealed that HP, Palo Alto, Calif., and CDW Corp., Vernon Hills, Ill., were set to launch an alliance that will see the vendor co-fund 110 new HP-only CDW salespeople selling HP products into accounts with 499 or fewer employees, many small solution providers called Jones over the weekend to voice their concerns.
After listening to the solution providers, Jones said on the following Monday that HP is willing to fund SMB initiatives for small solution providers, including co-funding employee salaries, in an effort to capture more market share.
"My message to partners is, give us your ideas. Give us your proposals about how we can work together to co-fund and co-invest in that [SMB] segment and we will gladly listen and gladly work with you," Jones said at the time. "You've just happened to see one of those plans [CDW], but we've invested in large partners. We've invested in small partners. And we are going to continue to invest in the SMB market. If we've got partners that feel that they can help us, ... please give us a call."
Listening to and communicating with partners is a hallmark of his two-year tenure as HP's Americas channel chief. Under Jones, HP has constantly fine-tuned its PartnerOne channel program in an effort to, as he says, "make it easier to do business with HP."
The latest change, set to go into effect Nov. 1, will see HP dropping the Gold and Platinum monikers for its best channel partners and replacing them with Preferred and Elite, a move Jones says will help it better market the channel to end-user customers. And Jones noted that HP also will make PartnerOne programs similar across all of HP's business units.
"All three business units have adopted different programs and different entry points so we've simplified that," Jones said. "We now have one PartnerOne entry point and one program for all business units," he said, noting that previously HP's Personal Systems Group (PSG), Technology Solutions Group (TSG) and Imaging & Printing Group (IPG) each had different PartnerOne program requirements.
With all of the changes to PartnerOne, Jones said his eye remains on improving HP's relationship with solution providers over the long haul.
"When you make big changes, you are going to upset somebody," he said. "But we feel that the road we are taking here is not about one moment in time. It's about a journey over the next year or two years and how we make PartnerOne even better."
Jones, too, was instrumental in setting up a process to facilitate face-to-face meetings between solution providers, their customers and top HP executives, including Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd.
Called ExecConnect, the plan allows solution providers to log onto HP's Web site and submit a request to meet with Hurd or members of his executive team. "When you sign up with HP as a partner, you don't just get PartnerOne, or the marketing team or the sales team, you get everyone," Jones said. "You get Mark Hurd on down supporting you. ... "
The plan illustrates Jones' intention to give HP solution providers a voice inside HP to help the vendor plan strategy and mutually grow business.
"I have done what I've said I was going to do when I arrived at the company," Jones said. "I've spent every single week on the plane going to visit partners. And I listen a lot to partners. ... It's a team effort.