HP Wants To Mend Fences With Partners, But Is It Too Late?

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Hewlett-Packard says it wants to rebuild frayed channel relationships. But HP partners -- especially ones focused on the small and medium business market -- are viewing this pledge with a skeptical eye.

In the course of the past year, partners told CRN that HP has failed to adequately communicate strategic channel decisions, such as rebranding its Solution Partners Organization (SPO) and cutting support for small and medium business-focused partners. It is still tough for some partners to get support from HP, and competitors have been taking advantage of the confusion to lure away SMB channel business.

Pete Busam, principal at Equilibrium Consulting, a Marlton, N.J.-based firm that works with HP partners, says HP has recast its former SMB channel reps as field reps supporting partners with annual sales of at least $250,000. Partners that don't meet this revenue threshold, he said, can only obtain support from HP's call center.


[Related: HP Says It Needs To 'Rebuild' Channel Relationships In Coming Year]

"The small guys are more frustrated than ever, and they are going to partners such as Lenovo, and even Dell, because they can get someone on the phone to help them," Busam said in an interview. "HP's partnerships are fragile and they need serious improvements quickly, because this is hurting sales."

Even medium-size partners with booming businesses are having trouble getting on HP's radar. One partner, who grew his HP business from $400,000 to $1.2 million during 2012, told CRN that HP insists on supporting him through MarketStar, a third-party firm to which HP outsources some of its channel management.

And despite doing well over $250,000 in HP business in 2011, the partner told CRN he could still only obtain support through HP's SMB call center.

"HP is a huge company that does not understand what it's like to work with them from a perspective of a smaller company," said the partner, who asked not to be named. "That is, and has always been, part of the problem."

HP is denying that it pegs channel support to the amount of revenue a partner generates, however. "Though not all partners have dedicated sales reps, HP does not have a set revenue bar for determining sales coverage," an HP spokesperson told CRN in an email.

NEXT: The Importance Of The SPO

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