New Incentives For Dell Apex, PC and Storage: Five Changes To Dell’s 2024 Partner Program

Dell Technologies has a new channel leader in Denise Millard and a new channel program with plans to kick off the year by growing and modernizing its core business through partners.

Dell Technologies sees a PC refresh coming soon.

To break out of its current No. 3 market position in the category, the company is leaning on partners, with incentives around PC peripherals as well as on workstations, displays and rugged laptops.

Steering the channel ship along the richer course is Denise Millard, chief partner officer at Dell Technologies, who said the aging fleet of COVID-era PCs, and the advent of AI-enabled Copilots that are being deployed for productivity will both act on the market to drive new device and peripheral sales.

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“There is definitely going to be a PC refresh cycle opportunity,” Millard said. “As applications like Copilot and others are deployed, users will require that level of capability, locally and on their device. And there is a windows refresh that is coming. So with those drivers in mind, in addition to the program changes, I feel like we’re really well-positioned to go into the new year with partners.”

Dell is already the global leader in IT infrastructure, selling more servers and storage than rivals at HPE and Lenovo. Dell holds the No. 1 spot in external enterprise storage with 32.6 percent share and high-end storage with 45.8 percent share, according to 2023 numbers from IDC. It is also the leader in x86 servers with 13.4 percent of unit share.

Darren Sullivan, Dell’s senior vice president global partner program and operations, said in addition to richer client business, Apex consumption will now be available for back-end incentives and base rebates and new business incentives.

“What we’re doing is taking this opportunity to just fully embed all of our offers together in a common framework,” Sullivan said. “It further ties Apex in to our overall strategy and really brings the full portfolio together whether its CapEx (hardware) or Apex together so that our partners can understand how to engage with us from a profitability perspective, in a consistent way.”

Dell won approximately 50 percent of its net revenue in the previous four quarters through partners. Partners also brought Dell 60 percent of its new and returning business. Millard said it’s time to bump those numbers up.

“You're going to see us really focus on how do we continue to grow share? How do we work with and through our ecosystem to accelerate those market growth opportunities both in our core businesses as well as the big bet areas?” Millard told CRN. “AI and multi-cloud and edge are increasingly becoming important, both in customer conversations and in the outcomes that we're delivering, as well as doubling down on our ISG (Infrastructure Solution Group) business.”

Dell is turning to partners to help increase its market leadership with programs like partner-first for storage, which was devised by Millard’s boss Bill Scannell, to capture even greater storage share as massive data opportunities around AI come over the horizon. Through partner-first for storage, Scannell, Dell’s president of global sales and customer operations, incentivized Dell’s direct sales force to move through partners to close deals.

Additionally, Dell quadrupled the number of partners of record inside storage. So as opposed to taking accounts direct, Dell is incentivizing its sales force to work with partners in 99 percent of its accounts.

“I would say our program and our focus on this ecosystem is working,” Millard said. “What we launched last August with partner-first strategy for storage, as part of that we made over 99 percent of our customers and perspective customers partner-first. We quadrupled the number of accounts eligible for this, the partner of record status, and then we pay our sales teams more to work with and through partners. We are seeing massive collaboration and all of our KPIs are trending in a really positive way.”

Millard said Dell is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, and part of that celebration is to double down on its commitment to partners.

“There’s huge excitement across Dell for the power of partnership and the role that we’re seeing the ecosystem play,” she said. “This is an exciting time to be a partner with Dell. We are doubling down in many areas and if you think about the big bets that we talk about, we can’t deliver those outcomes without partners. They’re playing a more pivotal role in those go to market areas.”

Here are five things to know about the changes to Dell’s 2024 partner program.

Apex Tops Itself

Dell Apex, the company’s subscription infrastructure products, are now offered in two categories: Storage+ and Server+.

Dell said the updated program means Dell’s incentive-eligible Apex products will now qualify for base rebates and behavioral incentives, increasing a partner’s profit potential.

Additionally, the Dell Apex upfront incentive will continue to be available for partners who hold the Dell Apex Infrastructure competency, in a strategy that was shaped by partner input.

“Some of the feedback was how do we how do we simplify and make sure that people are making the right choices around whether they pick an Apex cloud platform or they pick a consumption model,” Millard said. “So what we are doing is streamlining the Dell Apex infrastructure offerings into the storage and server product categories. What that's really going to do is enable the full incentive for the Dell Apex portfolio. So now it qualifies for a base rebate and it qualifies for a behavioral incentive, really increasing the profit potential for partners.”

Dell Platinum Partner Gary McConnell, CEO of VirtuIT, a Nanuet, N.Y.-based partner, said his shop has embraced Dell’s renewed commitment to partners.

“Our sales team has been collaborating with Dell teams on a number of APEX deals and it's encouraging to see that they're aligning incentives with their go-to-market,” McConnell said. “We've been fortunate to work through the Apex sales cycle successfully early on, and expect the additional incentives to continue to drive those efforts as customer demands shift to this newer model of purchasing infrastructure.”

Bigger Client + and ProSupport Earnings

Partners who have earned a metal tier inside Dell’s program and who hold a Client+ competency are now eligible for a five-times multiplier on the base rebate when selling Dell Client Peripherals and two-times the base rebate when selling precisions workstations, Dell displays, docking stations, Dell Latitude rugged laptops and tablets.

Dell said it is also increasing the rebate for partners who attach Dell Pro Support Plus when selling Client + products.

“For metal tiers who hold the client competency and who hit their client peripheral attached gate, they will be eligible for three things that are going to drive profitability for them and for Dell,” said Millard. “The first is they will receive a five times multiplier on their base rebate for selling peripherals. So you’re going to see us focus on attach. Attach services. Attach peripherals.”

Partner ProServices is the new name for Project Harmony. It is a professional services delivery model that lets partners integrate Dell service into their own branded offerings, manage the entire engagement with the customer and use Dell experts when needed.

“Where partner-first for storage is really focused on new business acquisition, and new customers … when you think about client, it’s going to be about how do we increase pro-support plus, and peripherals to drive profitability,” said Millard.

McConnell praised this move as one that shows how Dell’s channel is listening and acting under Millard.

“It’s encouraging that Dell has been listening to the channel community in regard to PC sales,” he said. “For a while, Dell has been known to drive a lot of the PC sales directly, so finding ways to continue to better engage the channel will open up a ton of opportunity for Dell as well as simplifying the customer buying experience under a unified vendor.”

Dell PowerFlex Storage

Dell PowerFlex speeds modernization of storage with performance and scalability, Dell said. The software-defined infrastructure solution is designed to keep pace with the dynamic needs of modern workloads.

Millard said partners who invest in and hold the PowerFlex Design 2023 Certification will be eligible for a stackable 4 percent rebate kicker on New Business and Competitive Swap incentive opportunities.

New Commitment To Partners

When Scannell unveiled partner-first for storage in August he did so with a two-prong attack. The first was to give Dell’s internal sales teams more money if they move storage deals through a reseller partner. Then he opened up the ability to sell storage to 99 percent of Dell’s customers to Dell’s partners.

Millard said the strategic shift is moving Dell’s dominant storage leadership into an even more favorable position.

“That is one of the biggest go-to-market changes that we’ve embarked up on,” she said. “While its still early days we are seeing massive collaboration. All of our KPIs are trending in a really positive way. We are encouraged by what we are seeing to continue to incent partners to work in that area.”

There’s A New Chief In Town

Since October, two of Dell’s channel mainstays have announced they are leaving the company. In October, Rola Dagher left. In January, Diego Majdalani, Dell’s president of global channel, said he would leave by the end of March.

Millard (pictured), who reports to Scannell, has absorbed both roles in her new title of chief partner officer. Backing her up is Darren Sullivan who handles strategy and operations. Dell’s global channel sales teams now reports to their respective regional sales leaders, working closely with Millard’s partner strategy and programs team to build the partner experience.

"As we navigate the dynamic technology trends of 2024 and beyond, our partner ecosystem is critical to our ability to build new capabilities, scale and deliver for our customers,” Scannell said in a statement. “Denise (Millard) is an exceptional leader and her wealth of experience will position us to build on our partner momentum and win big together."

Dell’s Cheryl Cook, senior vice president of Dell’s global partner marketing said she is thrilled to see Millard in this role.

“To see another woman leader in this industry and in the company. I think it’s a great expression of us trying to really holistically look at the partner community and ecosystem,” Cook said. “Denise says it best, ‘No one of us can do it alone.’ Pulling that all together under Denise as a single leader I think is going to help us continue to go fast and be extremely relevant as we listen to our partners.”