Dell EMC Rolls Out New Partner Program, Channel Chief Byrne Pledges 'Zero Tolerance' For Deal Registration Violations

Dell EMC Channel Chief John Byrne rolled out key elements the company's new channel program, and while partners will have to wait for some details, Byrne promised strict deal registration rules designed to protect partners from conflict with corporate account executives.

Byrne has clearly made up his mind, saying deal registration will be the most important piece of protection for partners, and that he'll have "zero tolerance" for anyone who tries to go around it.

Byrne spoke with CRN Tuesday before taking the stage at the Dell EMC World conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.

Related:CRN Exclusive: Channel Chief Byrne On The New Dell EMC Unified Program, 'Zero Tolerance' For Violating Deal Registration And Fixing Unrealistic EMC Partner Sales Targets

"The ultimate form of protection for our partners is deal registration. EMC partners don't use deal registration as much as we do. We do it, but people need to know, and I don't think it's been as forcefully implemented as I'm going to say it, but we will have zero tolerance -- zero -- for anyone that violates deal registration. Partner is part of my strategy to attack the market. Partner is part of my sales team. I'm going to protect them. Michael [Dell] is very much about being a trusted brand, a trusted advisor, high in integrity. If I find anyone abusing it, I'm telling you I will have zero tolerance."

Byrne has moved fast since being named global channel chief in July and since the close of Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC in early September. The companies' channel programs are expected to be fully merged into a single, unified program in time for the beginning of Dell Technologies' fiscal year Feb. 1.

The new program will be called the Dell EMC Partner Program and will be arranged in four tiers: Gold, Platinum, Titanium and an exclusive Titanium Black level for elite partners, Byrne said. Byrne is still working out the revenue thresholds for each tier, and said part of the aim of the program is create 'tier envy' among partners.

Revenue thresholds will be announced, Byrne said, in December, with the aim of getting partners into the appropriate tiers and on the appropriate tracks in time for the start of the fiscal year.

Michael Tanenhaus, president of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC, told CRN that the moves Byrne is making show a willingness to listen to the channel, and also a willingness to trying new things.

"There's a lot being done, a lot of different things, and it's almost like start-ups, lots of ideas are being pitched and being approved or disapproved," Tanenhaus said. "They're also giving people time to react, and I give them a lot of credit for it. If there's a big blow-back, they change it. I've met with regional sales execs, and they're all really receptive to getting as much info as they can about what's going on in the field."

Still, important questions remain, Tanenhaus said.

"It's hard to figure out which sales leader will own our stuff," Tanenhaus said, referring to Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas and enterprise sales chief Bill Scannell. "It's important because a lot of progress has been announced, but how it will be different is still an unknown."

Byrne said that while the hard deck, a revenue level below which all deals are done through the channel, will remain in place for storage products, it remains to be seen whether that structure, a popular element of EMC's program, will be rolled out for other lines of business.

"Right now it's customer choice with line-of-business incumbency for storage, but we are looking at how do we optimally cover the market?" Byrne said.

Byrne said he's using partner preference to guide his decision making on MDF and rebates.

"We've talked about MDF. [EMC's] MDF has been cut so dramatically, and I don't they care so much about their MDF being cut dramatically if your front and end back end are lucrative," Byrne said. "So we're now going through and asking what do you prefer? I know how much money I have for front end, back end and MDF.

"That's the number one thing I'm asking: 'What do you prefer?' What I'm hearing is that it depends whether you're a classic partner, or whether you're a disty. That's determining the answer. It depends where you are around the globe, and it really varies. A lot of feedback in Europe was that they like a balance. Dell partners love the back end. They're used to it. It's predictable. The EMC partners will tell you that while they're heavily front end, they would like to see more of a balance. They want MDF for the cool stuff."

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