Hewlett Packard unveiled a new partner portal Tuesday in a bid to connect, on a more meaningful level, with its legions of SMB-focused solution providers.
HP's new SMB Central portal gives channel partners guidance on current areas of channel opportunity and what they can do in the near term to make money with HP. Once they've signed up on SMB Central, which is free, VARs also get access to one-on-one sales support, market development funds and leads from HP, among other benefits.
SMB Central is designed to get partners thinking about a wide range of HP products when putting together deals, according to Meaghan Kelly, vice president of the SMB Strategy Group in HP’s Americas Solution Partner Organization. "The challenge is how to incent partners to sell across the entire portfolio and get the value of the entire solution, rather than just the dollar value of what they're selling," Kelly said in an interview.
SMB Central isn't meant to be a repository for static information, but a mechanism for sparking collaboration between HP partners and experts as well as peer-to-peer networking between VARs, said Kelly.
Using a newly developed tool from HP, SMB Central partners can select combinations of various HP products and see an immediate on-screen calculation of TCO and ROI that takes into account up front channel benefits and special offers. Once they've identified their desired combination, VARs then add the products to an online shopping basket that's connected on the back end to their distributor of choice, which fulfills the order.
Another SMB Central tool gives partners one-click access, via live video chat, with HP partner business planning representatives that can answer questions about how to get up to speed. Kelly says the "virtual representative" concept represents a new trend for HP and includes the hiring of dedicated staff.
Arlin Sorensen, founder of HTG and CEO of solution provider Heartland Technology Solutions, Harlan, Iowa, says HP's SMB channel initiatives have been a bit complex and sprawling in the past, but he's encouraged by the concentrated focus that SMB Central represents.
"This gives us one place to get information, program and product updates, and it creates a platform that makes it simpler and more efficient to do business with HP. The more the interaction is streamlined and refined, the better we are able to service SMB clients," said Sorensen.
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