Thompson: HP Implementing Policies To Ease Conflict

"I don't think rules of engagement is an event; it's a process," said John Thompson, vice president and general manager of HP's Americas Solution Partners Organization, in an interview with CRN. "It's a journey. It's not an overnight thing. We have taken strict action and we have seen behavioral changes."

Earlier this month, HP was stung by reports that a telesales representative obtained a solution provider's customer list after encouraging the partner to participate in a joint marketing campaign. The telesales rep then allegedly began calling the VAR's customers, trying to get them to buy direct from HP.

The solution provider, David Kiernan, president of KC Computers, Whitewater, Wis., said last week that HP is now actively investigating the incident. "They are real interested in my story now," Kiernan said. "Hopefully, along with the voices of the other 'little guys,' we can convince HP and the other manufacturers that the channel has value."

At the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's Americas Partner Conference in February, HP executives promised to deliver SMB rules of engagement similar to those in place for the enterprise.

Sponsored post

"The [SMB rules of engagement] have not been well-communicated," said Chris Ferry, executive vice president of Technology Integration Group, a solution provider in San Diego with more than $200 million in annual revenue. "They have initiated efforts to begin eliminating some conflicts, but the tale of the tape is not yet in."

Thompson told CRN in Houston last week that HP already has implemented a number of policies for its call center telesales reps in an effort to reduce conflicts with solution providers in the SMB market. He declined to comment on the latest incident except to confirm that HP was investigating the situation.

But Thompson said HP has taken a number of steps to improve rules of engagement, including changing the call center compensation structure earlier this year to incent HP sales reps to work with partners. "We've had every salesperson in the call center sign a document related to ensuring partner neutrality so there's not anti-partner swooping behavior going on."

Violation of the policy results in actions "up to and including termination," he said.

The SMB rules of engagement provisions already in place are paying off in increased partner revenue, Thompson said. "The last two quarters are the best growth I've seen with partners in several years."

He declined to give specifics on partner revenue except to say that about two-thirds of HP's $84 billion in annual sales goes through channel partners. "You can talk about engagement all you want, but the proof is in the pudding," he said. "Are you growing your partner business? And the answer is yes. The engagement is the best it's been in years and it's yielding results."