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Dell EMC Federal Channel Boss: Only 'Highly Capable' Partners Need Apply

Tracy Pavillard, who oversees Dell EMC's federal channels, said he needs to be selective because the space requires partners that are focused and consistent.

Dell EMC's federal channel isn't actively recruiting new partners, but resellers that can bring serious technical capabilities and significant customer relationship-building skills to the table will be brought into a fast-moving program that's focused clearly on growth.

Tracy Pavillard, Dell EMC's vice president for federal channels and systems integrator programs, said the federal space requires partners to be focused and consistent, so he's got to be selective.

"What I'm looking for in partners is the ability to augment my existing capabilities, either from a sales perspective, a contractual perspective, a market reach perspective, a technical capabilities perspective. What I don't need is another 100 partners to go out and respond to Dell opportunities that pop up on [government procurement web sites]."

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"If you're a highly capable partner that can add value, we're more than happy to talk to you and bring you into our program and bring you along like we've done with many others," Pavillard said.

If Pavillard sounds demanding, it's because federal business is demanding for partners. "Federal used to be a tiny, tiny part of our business, and suddenly became big," said Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC. "There's not one really easy, singular line, and the rules aren't easy."

Jeff Sessions, CEO of Red River, a Claremont, N.H.-based reseller that works primarily in the federal space, said solution providers that come to the federal business from the commercial side face the most challenges.

"Any time you come from commercial into federal, there are so many areas of blockage," Sessions said. "If you're used to doing it one way, learning to do it the other way is very hard." Solution providers that try to handle both usually begin with federal and grow out into commercial, he said.

"Things get different even inside of federal," Sessions said. "Civilian, DoD, intelligence. It becomes even more complex. It's a niche market inside a niche market."

Still, opportunities abound, Sessions said. Red River has booked consistent growth in the federal space over the last decade, he said.

"We are very bullish," Sessions said. "We've had significant growth over last 10 years. Red River is becoming a significant player that will be right up there at the top of the list from a revenue perspective. There are a few pockets in the federal market where the growth is going to become especially significant in next few years. The Dell EMC portfolio play is brilliant. I'm very confident about that."

Dell EMC's federal partner program was established in 2005, and is separate from its commercial program. Its rebate and incentive structure closely mirrors that of the the commercial plan, but to stay on the right side of federal bidding rules, the program doesn't include the "line of business incumbency" that the commercial program does. Pavillard reports to Bill Rodriguez, president of North America and global sales, rather than Global Channel Chief John Byrne.

And while the February launch of Dell EMC's unified channel program may have claimed the spotlight, it was only being developed as the integrated federal program was accelerating, said Pavillard.

"Our teams have integrated really, really quickly and work really well together," Pavillard said. "We had a little bit of a head start on the commercial teams because we knew who the leader for federal was going to be. We knew who was going to be integrating the businesses going forward. We had a three- or four-month head start on the commercial folks in terms of being able to integrate."

Pavillard's advice to partners is simple: "Follow the money."

"The agencies that are going to see the most funding are going to be defense-related, security-related accounts and either involve the security of the country or information security, cybersecurity, cyber-defense, cyber-warfare. All those types of things are going to continue to see significant funding. I'd steer away from some of the more regulatory-type agencies that might not see as much funding as the new administration's process comes out. It's always smart to watch where the money is going and concentrate your efforts there."

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