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Dell Technologies' Haas To Partners: 'There Will Be No Unknowns' In New Channel Program

Partners Wednesday will get their first official look at the changes Dell Technologies is making as it races to establish a new, integrated program by Feb. 1.

Channel partners Wednesday get their first official look at the changes Dell Technologies is making to its partner program as it races to establish a new, integrated program by the beginning of its next fiscal year.

Details about the program began to emerge as soon as Dell completed its $58 billion acquisition of EMC last week. The changes were generally well received by partners, who said the company has done a good job of listening to the channel and taking action to ensure partners are treated fairly.

’Partners were concerned about the unknown, and we wanted to make an extremely clear statement that there will be no unknowns,’ Marius Haas, Dell COO and president of commercial solutions, told CRN in an exclusive interview. "[We're telling partners that] the investments you made, the relationships you’ve established, we’re going to help you with those accounts to ensure business continuity for our customers, our partners and ourselves.’

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Dell Makes Ambulos North America Channel Chief, Assembles New Top Sales Teams]

A letter detailing immediate changes was sent to partners Wednesday.

Dell channel chief John Byrne said he and his team are ’aggressively building out’ a unified program. Byrne said he wants to unveil the new program at the annual Dell World conference in Austin, Texas, next month. The new program – a combination of the Dell and EMC programs – will go into effect Feb. 1, the start of Dell’s fiscal year.

’I’m really pleased. I think it’s a step in the right direction,’ said Dan Serpico, CEO of Fusion Storm, a San Francisco-based solution provider that works with Dell. ’The devil’s in the details, but what they laid out shows that they really have been listening to the EMC partners, and those of us who are Dell partners who have been talking about a hard deck and customer choice. It shows enormous sensitivity to the partner community. They’ve done a really good job of paying attention.’

As previously reported by CRN, Dell is evaluating its customer base going back three years, and customers identified as buying through partners will effectively become partner-led accounts indefinitely.

The move is a sign that Dell’s channel program will take on significant aspects of EMC’s successful program, which employs a hard deck, a system by which deals below a certain size are automatically handled by channel partners.

Dell is also grandfathering EMC partners into the Dell Partner Direct channel program at their current level, a strategy that allows EMC’s top partners join the Dell program with their current top-tier status, giving them all the pricing, discounts and MDF made available to top Dell partners.

In a move to help keep its sales teams and channel partners calm, Dell will also honor multiple registrations for competing products until the unified channel program is launched Feb. 1.

The focus is on ’hot spot’ product lines where Dell and EMC overlap and compete. For example, if a Dell partner is registered to sell Dell Compellent storage to a customer and an EMC partner is registered to sell EMC VNX storage to the same customer, both registrations will be honored, and the partners will have to compete for the sale.

When the Dell and EMC channel programs are fully integrated Feb. 1, the Dell partner and the EMC partner will automatically be registered on each other’s competing solution.

’Now we’re one company, and now we can truly get our hands around all the data,’ Byrne, global vice president of sales strategy, operations and channels, told CRN. ’We’re getting consistent feedback and partners of both companies have done well with channel. Many partners really like EMC’s program from a simplicity, predictability perspective. Dell, they like flexibility, and the incentives on the back end. Those will be front and center as we build the program.’

Byrne promised Dell Technologies’ MDF and rebate programs will be extremely competitive in the market, but said it’s too early to get into the details.

’It’s clear,’ Haas said. ’We want every customer to say that Dell Technologies is their preferred and No. 1 choice when it comes to providing whole solutions. That means we need to be competitive. It means we need to have an engagement model that is predictable. It means [partners] can make good money and see their businesses grow.’

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