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Dell Partner Account Manager Exodus Is Exacerbating Channel Conflict

“If you think about it, a really good PAM almost, ironically, causes problems for Dell direct because they’re protecting the channel,” said one top executive from a Dell Titanium Black partner.

The exodus of longtime Dell Technologies partner account managers (PAMs) -- who were acting as fierce channel advocates -- is exacerbating channel conflict , partners told CRN.

“PAMs do a lot of things to protect the channel,” said a Dell Titanium Black partner, who has lost several PAMs this year. “Whether it’s escalating a registration issue, escalating a post-registration issue, escalating margin issues. So if you think about it, a really good PAM almost, ironically, causes problems for Dell direct because they’re protecting the channel.”

CRN reported in September that Dell Technologies has cut the number of PAMs in North America, reducing the ranks of veteran channel managers and slashing the on-target earnings (OTE) for rep positions by as much as 30 percent. The PAMs that Dell did replace for channel partners are “very junior,” without much knowledge about solution providers and who aren’t looking to build deep relationships with channel sales teams, partners said.

“They’re all junior now. They don’t have ears-in. So it makes them a little bit even easier, in my opinion, to get run over by the direct teams,” he said.

[Related: Dell’s Bill Scannell: Our Channel Strategy Hasn’t Changed]

Executives at multiple top Dell partners, all Platinum level or higher, told CRN they have lost highly respected, veteran partner managers that were best in class and have been replaced by PAMs with less experience who are being compensated at a lower pay level.

Dell partners told CRN the experienced PAMs they recently lost were critical in helping them escalate deal registration and channel conflict issues.

PAMs are important because they help push deals and sales opportunities through the channel, while partners can also escalate issues to PAMs regarding channel conflict or direct sellers not abiding by Dell’s rules and regulations, said multiple Dell partners.

Partners said the loss of PAMs, especially PAMs who have worked with partners for decades, is part of the reason why channel conflict escalations are not going up the ladder to be dealt with by senior Dell officials.

“Real, capable PAMs are important because we build trust in the PAM knowing they’ve got our back. And then we make proactive investments to drive that OEM because we know if things go south, that PAM has the relationships, the rapport and the trust to help us get through those difficult issues,” said one Dell Titanium partner. “When we get a PAM that’s junior[-level] ... it takes them years to be able to get all those things in place. And we just lose some of the teeth and the confidence that we have to manage to these Dell things together.”

Dell told CRN that partner rules of engagement, which it declined to share with CRN, asks partners to “highlight any perceived breaches to the relevant regional Partner Account Manager (PAM) or Channel Vice President.” Additionally, Dell said, partners are “welcome to escalate to any member of our leadership team.”

Dell Technologies President of Global Sales Bill Scannell said in an interview with CRN that solution providers should contact him directly if they need help.

“I’m [at] Bill.Scannell@dell.com --- publish that,” Scannell said. “If people have an issue, please call me. Our partners are our most important assets. It’s our route to markets. It’s why we’re growing so well.

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