HP To Synnex VARs: We Need Help Reaching Midsize Customers

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As Hewlett-Packard continues to rehab its image with solution providers, it's looking for more solution providers to target midsize customers, Aaron Mills, vice president of U.S. midsize commercial sales at HP, told a crowd of about 170 solution providers at Synnex's Varnex conference in Orlando, Fla., Monday.

Mills called on solution providers to help HP reshape its identity, which for years he said was tied to being known as the world's largest maker of printers and PCs.

"I still see that perspective out there, but there's been a transformation going on for a year and a half. Three years ago, the rumor around HP was the vast majority of our revenue was from printers but the vast majority of profit was from toner. That's not something I'd want to invest in. Quietly, the investments we've made around 3Par and the storage business, 3Com and getting into the networking business are beginning to pay off for the partner community, for HP and for our partners."

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HP is on the recruiting trail for new solution providers to spread that word, specifically for partners serving the 100-seat to 999-seat midmarket, Mills said.

"It's no small task to say we're going after the 100,000 customers in that space," Mills said. "And if we asked those 100,000 customers, 'Do you know who your HP account rep is or when was the last time an HP account rep or a partner talked to you,' I think we'd be disappointed in that answer. We're looking to find channel partners to get the story out there."

HP has asked its midsize field salespeople to become more "virtual managers" than salespeople and to identify 10 to 15 salespeople among their VAR accounts that they would hire. "We're going to get into the foxhole together about getting after these 100,000 accounts. That transformation is going," Mills said.

HP is in the second year of a five-year reorganization plan, with fiscal 2013 a "fix and rebuild" year, after a year of "diagnosis and foundation" in fiscal 2012, Mills said.

"We are enjoying executing on a longer-term strategy. We've dialed down the tachometer on product rollouts and programs to a more predictable [behavior]. We're ahead of schedule," Mills said. "Next year is more recovery and expansion. You'll see us get into more focused investments and we'll focus on R&D and intellectual property."

One way HP aims to attract more solution providers is with an exclusive deal for Varnex members through July 31 for the HP Proactive Care service it launched last month.

Solution providers can upgrade one ProLiant DL380E/P or DL360E/P server in a customer's environment, with a minimum of a $10,000 order, to Proactive Care for 62 percent to 72 percent off the list price.

"Legal won't let me say 'free,' but I can say 'virtually free,' " said Tracy Galloway, Americas vice president of channel and attach sales, Technology services, at HP.

HP's Proactive Care service includes advisory support, hardware and software support and what it calls Insight Remote Support (IRS). "It softly pings the environment of customers, gives us data and a profile so we can watch and proactively service customers on your behalf. You can log in and watch what's happening. By using IRS, you get 90 percent faster [identification] and 60 percent faster resolution," Galloway said.

Phil Fortmeyer, partner at Clear North Technologies, a Plymouth, Minn.-based solution provider, has seen increased attention from HP over the last year and he hopes it continues.

"It's a great opportunity for us. It's a focus on us in the channel, because in the past there's been some conflict with who owns the account and that kind of thing. [Now] it's the reseller that owns the account, but we have the HP resources in the back end," said Fortmeyer, who has been an HP partner for about 15 years. "I've seen a big improvement over the last year. We've seen already in some of the accounts where they come forward to engage us and we've seen more resources from HP in that regard."

Glenn Fell, vice president of solutions at Flex Imaging, a Marietta, Ga.-based VAR, echoed Fortmeyer's sentiment, adding "We primarily played in the [former Imaging and Printing Group, now PPS] for many years. I have seen some vast improvements and we've heard some really bold commitments. What Aaron said echoed what I've heard and we're very happy about it."

But Nathan Sanders, COO and vice president of Network Essentials, a Charlotte, N.C.-based solution provider, said it's one thing to improve in the area of enterprise services but many VARs, including himself, don't play in that space.

"We're mostly in the managed services/SMB market, so I'm still curious because it didn't really answer where's their [Printers and Personal Systems] Group going to go. That's where my bread and butter is. I've hitched my wagon to HP for many years and I don't want to go back down [another] avenue," he said.


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