HP Execs To SBM VARs: Changes Are Coming

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While Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina met with VARs in Houston last week, a cadre of other HP executives promised improvements to VARs attending Arrow Electronics' SBM Division's Alliance Summit last week in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The executives, including new HP channel chief John Thompson, promised to make changes in deal registration, compensation, field sales training and other areas to make doing business with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company easier, solution providers said.

Fourteen HP executives held a closed door meeting with about 50 of SBM's elite partners, who liked what they heard but added that HP now has to deliver on those promises.

"It's all about execution. It sounds like they have the right approach, but they know it's not validated until they right some wrongs," said Rick Gordon, president and CEO of AE Business Solutions, Madison, Wisc. "I like deal registration because it establishes value in the relationship and allows you to invest in a deal. But the Web site is cumbersome, and the approval process needs some work," he said. HP's strategy "feels good so we'll see if they can execute on that vision."

In addition, HP plans to add training for field sales that should improve channel relationships strained by direct-sales conflicts and compensation issues.
"They talked about more consistent reinforcement in the rules of engagement," said Mike Fedele, CEO of The Pinnacle Group, a Stamford, Conn.-based solution provider. "It has to be more than training field-sales reps once a year at the annual sales meeting."

HP laid out the framework for an increased contact strategy at the local level, said Thompson, newly named vice president and general manager of HP's solutions partners organization for the Americas.

"The beauty of this event is in addition to having our partner teams together, we have the HP sales force represented here, including every area vice president," he said. "We're seeing those alliances forged even stronger. We will supplement that with additional training that will happen on a regular basis throughout the year."

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