CRN Exclusive: Dell EMC Protects Legacy Server, Networking Deals From Direct Sales Meddling

Dell EMC is again adjusting its rules of engagement to favor solution providers, extending its partner-led engagement strategy to its commercial server and networking business.

Just a couple of weeks before the company flips the switch on the new, unified, Dell EMC partner program, channel executives said this morning that Dell EMC would use a partner-led strategy for its commercial server and networking businesses.

Known as "line of business incumbency," the move follows a similar strategy as the program introduced in September to favor channel partners that have gained traction and loyalty with commercial storage accounts. Customers identified as buying through partners will effectively become partner-led accounts indefinitely.

[Related: 7 Critical Points For Solution Providers In Dell EMC's New Distribution Program]

Line of business incumbency is similar to the "hard deck" employed by the former EMC partner program. The hard deck stipulated that deals under a certain size were automatically handled by channel partners.

Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said introducing a line of business incumbency to the server and networking businesses helps to avoid conflict with Dell EMC direct sales teams and motivates partners to sell across the Dell EMC portfolio.

"It's mostly about keeping conflict with direct selling forces to a minimum, and by extending the program to include, not just storage, but also network and server, it gives partners some motivation to invest in solutions that use the full portfolio of products," Tanenhaus said. "It’s a brave new world with a large portfolio of solution possibilities. Having clear rules of the road helps us make choices about where to place investments."

"It's the right thing to do," Dell EMC Channel Chief John Byrne told channel partners during a webcast Monday, saying line of business incumbency would be officially rolled out to the server and networking businesses "very, very soon."

"You'll be able to sell all the products with line of business incumbency in commercial," Byrne said. "It's an example of how we've listened to you. It's proof that we are a partner-first organization. We believe in the channel. It's about trust; it's about predictability."

By combining the legacy Dell and EMC programs after the companies' landmark $58 billion merger last September, Byrne has set out to blend the predictability and simplicity of the old EMC program with the profitability of Dell's.

Line of business incumbency is a major part of the EMC contribution to the equation, and it's an evolution for Dell, which traditionally stood by the notion of customer choice, giving customers the option to work with either Dell sales teams or channel partners and leaving the door open to conflict between the two.

Dell EMC is set to begin using its new combined channel program Feb. 8, just after the company's fiscal year, which begins Feb. 4.

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