HP Emphasizes Partner Devotion At Public-Sector Forum

At HP's Public Sector Forum this week, executives reiterated the importance of partners in the company's drive into government and education, as demonstrated by recent enhancements to the PartnerOne program that compensate solution providers driving sales.

HP's primary objectives were to stress the value its partners bring to the table, discuss strategy and direction in preparation of what many dub "harvest season" in government, and to encourage engagement with the HP sales force.

"The theme is to ensure we have a mutually lucrative relationship," says Michael Coleman, vice president of public-sector channels at HP. "Partners and executives need to work together with a sense of trust, and both sides have to be predictable. If a partner doubles down [with HP offerings at a customer site], we need to make sure that's recognized."

Given that government agencies are more frequently relying on solution providers vs. vendors or internal resources, HP emphasized the need to work cohesively to accommodate customer needs. While the manufacturer has received some flack in the past for conflict between its direct sales force and partners, Coleman says the company is committed to rewarding those who demonstrate loyalty and possess a differentiator.

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"HP is developing a program for an entire segment, and we're coming in as the voice of the customer, asking for certain pieces that best serve certain needs," says Max Peterson, vice president of federal sales at Herndon, Va.-based CDW Government (CDW-G). "When two companies are each other's largest partners, which is the case with CDW-G and HP, it moves beyond pulling product off the shelf to put in the can. It's about how you can mutually leverage one another."

Naturally, partners also benefit from general partner-program enhancements, specifically those that target the public sector. Earlier this month, for example, HP enhanced its influencer program, which provides added margin to those who recommend HP products and services. Before, commission for the sale of X86-based servers dropped from 8 percent to 4 percent when the discount surpassed 25 percent; that threshold has been increased to 30 percent. Similarly, public-sector SCUs were added to HP's Smart Buy program to enhance competitive pricing for Personal Systems Group offerings. In addition, specialized partner business managers (PBM) continue to act as the liaison between the public-sector solution provider and HP.

"We invest in selling the complete HP product portfolio, and HP in turn offers a strong program to help in the process," says Marc Fertik, vice president of federal sales at Springfield, NJ-based Westwood Computer Corporation. The company is a fully owned subsidiary of Emtec. "We do our part, and we like to think that when an opportunity comes that we feel we can drive, HP will offer us strong consideration."