Dell Sales Boss Bill Scannell: ‘Build Credibility’ With Partners ‘Then We Win’
‘If we build better trust with our partners, and if we’re out in the field, arm in arm with our partners, working, building that credibility in front of our customers. Then we win,’ Dell Technologies head of worldwide sales Bill Scannell tells CRN. ‘And when you win, that gets you trying to do it again and again and again. And that’s what you’re looking for.’
There’s a simple rule that Dell Technologies’ Bill Scannell has laid down for his organization.
“I said I want you to spend as much time in front of partners as you do in front of customers,” the president of global sales and customer operations told CRN this week. “I don’t really care if you come into our office, as long as you’re in a customer’s office or a partner’s office. At the end of the day, that’s where the action takes place, and you don’t build trust over the phone or over Zoom. You need to get face to face.”
Scannell, who started his career with EMC 37 years ago, said he keeps the same rule for himself, spending some weekends with Dell channel partners near his Boston-area home, when not having them into the office during the week.
“I spend every bit as much time with my channel partners as I do with my end user customers because I know how it can change the trajectory of our business,” he said.
Dell sales last year reached $102.3 billion, better than the year prior by $1.1 billion, when the global leader in IT infrastructure enjoyed its most successful year in company history. Of those sales, Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) revenue accounted for $38.4 billion for the full year, up 12 percent from the prior year.
Scannell — who took Dell’s top sales job when Marius Haas retired in 2019 — is once again on the hook for a big number this year, and said the only way he knows how to reach it, is through the channel.
“If we build better trust with our partners, and if we’re out in the field, arm-in-arm with our partners, working, building that credibility in front of our customers. Then we win,” he said. “And when you win, that gets you trying to do it again and again and again. And that’s what you’re looking for.”
He offered to talk with CRN at Dell’s offices in Massachusetts earlier this week. Scannell was just coming off a second-place finish in the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am championship where he was paired with professional golfers J.T. Poston and Ryan Palmer, as well as Dell customers Dan Frey and Jay Snyder.
“We were in first place until the very last group came up. They made a birdie net eagle, and we made a bogey net par. If we had made a par net birdie, we would have won,” he said.
In his biography, “Play Nice But Win,” Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell wrote that as a child he looked a flagstaffs in front of sprawling corporate headquarters around Houston and wanted a building like that of his own someday. There are three flag poles outside of Dell’s offices in Hopkinton, Mass. They carry the U.S. flag, the Massachusetts flag, and a white flag with blue letters that spell Dell Technologies.
Inside the building, just past the front doors and on display along the walls of the common areas are sleek, black Dell server cabinets illuminated from within by blue LED lights. More of the servers that are sold around the world carry the Dell logo than any other brand. And the reason they do is due in no small part to the man upstairs.
“Our plan has always been No. 1 in everything we do,” Scannell said, seated in a conference room above the whirring servers on the first floor. “We want to be the category killer … There’s nothing that can compete with this technology from performance, to availability, to integrations with all the hyperscalers. That’s one of the unique advantages we have.”
The opportunity before Dell seems to grow every year.
The world’s data centers, where Dell dominates, were already expanding quickly. In March, IDC predicted that while there has been a dip in unit demand, the server market grew 15.3 percent year over year and it is expected to grow by 7.7-percent over the next five years. The emergence of generative AI seems to have only accelerated the demand from businesses to deploy high-powered, IT infrastructure like Dell’s Project Helix, which pairs its PowerEdge Xe9680 servers with eight of Nvidia’s H100 Tensor Core GPUs.
“It’s still early days, but we expect to be No. 1 in that space as well as far as being the infrastructure provider of choice for these AI farms that are popping up,” Scannell said. “Companies want to build AI into their built their businesses. We are very focused on building unique solutions, unique partnerships with Nvidia, and still a lot more to come.”
Here is more of what Scannell had to say about the opportunity for Dell’s partners with APEX, AI, and Dell Technologies.