HP Smoothes Deal Registration, Revamps Elite Program

HP has been re-evaluating its deal registration program and has managed to remove several time consuming steps. Starting Nov. 1, HP will begin using a deal registration tool that cuts the number of options that partners must consider from 11 to 5. The tool also draws clearer delineation between volume- and value-oriented transactions.

Matt Smith, director of marketing for HP's Solution Partners Organization, says the goal is to reduce the time solution providers spend making deal registration requests. "This is one of the biggest areas that partners have been asking us to streamline," Smith told CRN in a recent interview.

HP has also simplified its resale paths to provide clearer guidance for registering volume- and value-oriented deals and reaping the associated program benefits. In the past, partners had to navigate the legal aspects of registering deals on their own, but HP will now be handling that task.

Deal registration is never far from the minds of solution providers, but programs in the IT industry have been known to cause headaches, or at the very least, to make partners jump through many hoops. As a result, partners aren't always able to avail themselves of the protection these programs are designed to provide. But solution providers are encouraged by HP's efforts to remove the complexity from its channel business.

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"Simplification is really the overall message," said Romi Randhawa, president and CEO of Fremont, Calif.-based HPM Networks. "HP has been acquiring a lot of companies and they’ve been doing a lot of specialization, and it's been tough for us to keep track of things."

NEXT: What's In It For Partners? Depending on the type of product, deals can take a while to complete, particularly when they involve large enterprises, says Mike Galane, senior director of channel marketing and strategy for HP's Americas Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) business.

"We want to make sure that the one partners who's working the deal gets a pricing advantage compared to other partners," Galane said.

One of the keys to knowing whether a product can legally be registered is figuring out whether it’s an enterprise type of sale or a commercial type of sale, because in the eyes of the law, they're treated differently, said Galane.

"We're now asking partners to simply tell us what they want to register, and we will figure out if there are additional questions that need to be answered. We're essentially requiring partners to know less about these sorts of things," Galane added.

HP is also tackling programmatic clutter stemming from its acquisition of 35 companies over the past two years, many of which had their own channel programs. HP is combining its ProCurve and 3Com partner programs into a single entity to be known hereafter as the HP Networking Program. HP has also melded the HP Software, Palm and Halo programs into the fabric of PartnerONE.

"The key point for partners selling HP networking and software products will be coming into an integrated program with same kinds of levels for membership as well as the same awards being paid out," said Galane.

NEXT: New Designations, New Incentives

HP is also throwing a bone to Elite channel partners by streamlining existing designations and adding new ones, all of which offer better incentives.

The Networking Elite designation reflects the integration of ProCurve and 3Com and comes with simplified requirements. HP is adding new Security Elite and Software Elite designations, and will also boost rebates and incentives for partners in its Office Printing Solutions Elite designation.

Another new designation, Virtualization Elite, replaces the Thin Client designation and offers partners higher rebates than they’ve had in the past.

But the one change that best reflects HP's strategic focus at the moment is the increased investment in the Converged Infrastructure (CI) Elite designation. HP rolled out CI Elite last year but is now giving incremental rebates to partners that hold Virtualization, Networking, Security, Service Sales and Enterprise Storage Elite designations.

In other words, partners that sell the broad HP data center portfolio will be rewarded for their dedication. It's a drum HP executives have been pounding ever since the bloom fell off the rose of its partnership with Cisco Systems.

Left unsaid, but sitting there like a gleaming neon sign, is the fact that partners that feature this wide ranging expertise will be best equipped to help HP steal business from Cisco in the lucrative realm of the data center.

NEXT: HP's Vision For Partners In The Converged Data Center

"Partners will be able to make more money selling converged infrastructure than they have to this point," said Galane. "We're increasing the actual payout in percentage terms, and also increasing the number of product lines that are available for the payout. HP is paying more to partners who sell the broad HP line, and the way we're supporting that is by having common programs."

Of course, HP has legions of small and medium business partners, too, and it's endeavoring not to cause any envy with this partner bloc. HP is boosting its marketing investment PartnerONE and offering between $4,000 and $10,000 per partner as part of this effort.

Partners will receive funds for marketing development and training, and HP expects this to have a beneficial impact on smaller partners in particular. "We're putting more focus on the small partners and we think this will really help us in the SMB market," Smith said.