Mark Hurd: The Oracle Of The Channel

Mark Hurd lays the foundation for Oracle's channel charge

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If Ellison has changed the industry-standard hardware conversation, then Hurd has changed the Oracle channel conversation. Althoff said Ellison’s extreme technology innovation and Hurd’s sales and operations savvy give Oracle an unbeatable one-two punch. “You really get the best of both worlds,” said Althoff. “You get Larry Ellison’s innovation and engineering emphasis. And then you get Mark’s desire to execute and sell.”

Althoff added that Hurd brought significant channel DNA to Oracle, particularly given its database software sales heritage. Hurd went so far as to ask for weekly channel sales updates and is getting into the sales trenches to meet with partners, he said. “In the last five quarters since Mark has been here we have made more presidential-level house calls to channel partners than probably in my 12-year history at Oracle,” he said. “The [channel] support and awareness he brings to the executive team is phenomenal.”

One of the keys is the high margins partners can make when they commit to the sales plan. The new Oracle rebate incentives bring the margin for an Oracle Database Appliance sale into the mid- to high teens. It’s the same kind of sales incentives that worked wonders for many of HP’s Elite partners, who credit Hurd for helping them drive record sales and profits during one of the most treacherous periods in IT history.

At the heart of the new Oracle is a Hurd philosophy that the indirect sales force should be given the same kind of compensation metrics that drive the company’s own direct sales force.

“My view of the channel is that the channel should be treated just like a sales organization,” Hurd said. “We are going to compensate them based on performance. The better they perform, the more they make. What we wanted to have was a model where the more you did and the way you did it was important to us. So if you sell a box, that may or may not be interesting to us. But if you sold the box to that target market, to that hospital that we can’t cover, that is more interesting to us. If you sold that box with our storage, that is even more interesting to us. If you sold it with our support, that is even more interesting. By the way, if you did it two, three, four or five times, then it gets even more interesting to us. So we want our [indirect channel sales] remuneration to work in alignment with what motivates us. That allows it to be sustainable and strategic for us.”

As for his message to partners regarding the commitment they can expect, Hurd said: “It is the same thing I would tell our [direct] sales people: Just do what I tell you to do and things will be fine.” Given Hurd’s channel track record, that’s a pretty good bet.


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