Solution providers can sell the entire Dell storage portfolio, different parts of which address different customer segments, Bell said. For instance, Compellent targets midrange to enterprise customers with a Fibre Channel-focused offering, while EqualLogic targets midrange customers or special projects with its EqualLogic iSCSI offering. Dell's legacy PowerVault offering targets SMBs, Bell said.
Partners also need to learn how to reach out to CxO-level executives at their customers. He described CxOs as the one person in a company that can either make a deal go through or block a deal. "We've won the technology," he said. "Now we need to win the CxO."
Monday's opening session at Dell Storage Forum lacked the excitement of the old C:Drive partner conference. For instance, at C:Drive in 2010, Compellent demolished an EMC Symmetrix array in a parking lot.
One solution provider, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Dell missed a great opportunity to build that kind of excitement this week by focusing on the message of bringing the different storage technologies to its channel.
"It seemed like everybody had to give everybody stage time," the solution provider said. "It was tame. Not lame. Just tame. What Dell is doing is exciting. It just didn't come through."
Bell later told CRN that the Dell Storage Forum has a lot more deep content than in the past, and so the event may not seem as outwardly exciting as C:Drive. "We're still learning to work together effectively," he said.
Dell is also avoiding bashing the competition like Compellent did in the past, Bell said.
"At Compellent, we learned that, if you look at a lot of vendors, they spend a lot of time on beat sheets," he said. "And beat sheets are always wrong. Once they come, in a couple months they're already wrong. But the live on in some salesman's PC."
Compellent a couple years ago stopped holding sessions on how to beat competitors, Bell said. "This is not a question of beating EMC, or of beating NetApp," he said. "We prefer our sales reps and partners focus on what customers need."
Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider expecting its Compellent revenue grow to about $4 million this year compared to $2.5 million last year, said that Dell has done a good job of showing its channel partners the benefits of working with that vendor's storage.
"I think there's a phenomenal opportunity for a channel partner like us as Dell grows its channel program," Winslow said. "I can see the motivation there even if they haven't worked out all the details."
When Dell closed its Compellent acquisition, Winslow Technology was immediately grandfathered in as a Dell preferred partner, and is now working towards getting to the premier level, which Dell introduced just last month.
Winslow Technology is doing so by getting certified for Dell's server business. "We never did servers before Dell acquired Compellent," Winslow said.
Winslow Technology has already embraced Dell's EqualLogic storage offering despite competing with it for years as a Compellent partner, Winslow said.
"In the past we competed with EqualLogic," he said. "Those bums drove around with EqualLogic boxes in the back of their cars. We had a Compellent box in the back of our car. But now we're trained in EqualLogic technology, and we have active EqualLogic campaigns going on. We're storage experts. We learned EqualLogic technology quickly because we competed against them for so long."