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Archer did, however, offer some specifics on how the new rules will apply to channel partners. For new Technology Service business that partners bring to HP, the partner will take the lead and HP will provide sales strategy and support.
In cases involving global accounts, HP will "probably" take the lead but partners will have a clearly defined role that's spelled out under the terms of the new rules, Archer said.
"We are not looking to take the lead and cut the partner out," Archer said. "Instead, we will work together collaboratively on the opportunity in ways that are well defined and well-understood."
Guidance of Technology Services installed base deals will be determined by who owns the customer relationship, whether it's HP or the partner, according to Romanowski.
The rules apply both ways: If HP subcontracts services to a channel partner, the partner will agree not to try to steer the customer to another vendor. If the VAR controls the customer, they can work with HP without fear, Romanowskisaid.
"If I'm working closely with HP, I can be sure that HP isn't going to come in and take that business away from me," Romanowski said. "They're risking their reputation if they don't abide by the rules."
All of this sounds great, but HP partners could be forgiven for not jumping up and down with excitement, as previous HP efforts to address Technology Services channel conflict have fizzled. One HP partner, who asked not to be identified, is still stewing over a $5 million deal he brought to HP recently that was taken over by HP's Technology Services direct sales.
"We're now trying to see what we're going to get from that deal, whether it's a referral fee or piece of the services engagement. That's why I'd love to see some enforcement [of the rules of engagement]," said the source.
Pete Busam, principal at Equilibrium Consulting, a Marlton, N.J. solution provider that works with HP, says partners have heard the same promises about eliminating channel conflict in the past, and many will remain timid until they see a lasting, meaningful change in behavior. "I've personally had bad experiences with HP services on custom engagements, and ultimately sought other partners to fill the void," he said.
Archer acknowledges past "inconsistency" in channel-direct engagements but says it stems from the fact that many Technology Services direct sales reps haven't previously worked for channel focused companies and aren't familiar with the channel model. "That is why this is all mandatory. We want everybody to understand strategic partners, and we want to educate them on how to work with partners," Archer said.
Next: How HP Is Looking to Smash Channel Conflict