HP Vice President of Worldwide Partner Sales Strategy Thomas Jensen is mounting an offensive to drive a strategic sales transformation in the channel with the launch of HP University.
HP University – which will be unveiled at HP's Reinvent Worldwide Partner Forum being held Sept. 11-13 in Chicago – is one of the $48 billion PC and printer behemoth's biggest investments ever aimed at getting partners to drive recurring revenue, multiyear strategic services deals rather than transactional hardware-based sales.
HP University, in fact, represents what may well be the first comprehensive move by a major PC vendor to bring a strategic selling course aimed at changing how tens of thousands of sales reps engage with customers.
"This is all about sales growth and how partners can capture the new [recurring revenue Device-as-a-Service] market," said Jensen, who has been working on the HP University program for more than a year. "There has never been anything like this in our industry. This is a massive effort."
The "revolutionary" training for the first time provides solution provider sales reps with HP's extensive catalog of sales training including strategic solution selling, fundamentals of sales, advanced negotiation and solution selling, said Jensen.
"Every vendor is bombarding partners with product knowledge and product training, but nobody until now has helped them with how to sell," said Jensen. "This is about helping partners adapt to the changing dynamics in the market. It is about the transition from transactional to services-led sales. This is about transforming the mind-set of a salesperson. Selling an annual recurring revenue stream is different than selling a product."
The course that could have the biggest impact on the channel is the strategic solutions selling training – a two-day, on-site course available immediately -- which is focused on driving highly consultative sales with CIOs and CEOs, said Jensen. "This is a radically different value proposition than what many partners have been doing," he said. "You can't go in with the old toolbox."
Up until now, no vendor has addressed how to actually transform the partner sales force to sell services and solutions, said Jensen. "Everybody in the industry focuses on products, certifications or how you market products," he said. "This is not about product. This is about how to sell."
HP has already completed the sales skills training with 4,000 members of its own sales force including its specialty sales force, end-user reps and about 1,000 HP channel sales reps. "We developed this training catalog for our own sales force so we made it available for our channel partners," said Jensen.
The sales training – which is not mandatory – came in part from partners looking for help trying to cross the chasm from capital-expenditure-based transactional product sales to strategic recurring revenue models. "Many partners have not had the finances or critical mass to go out and buy an expensive industry course like this," said Jensen. "This is what the channel has been crying for for a long time."
The training represents a sharp break from the traditional product speeds-and-feeds sales training that most vendors have done, said Jensen. "We are taking on this responsibility on behalf of the entire industry," he said.
Strategic sales skills training historically has resulted in a significant increase in the close rate of sales reps that take the courses, said Jensen.
HP sees itself benefiting from the close relationship it will develop with sales reps – even those that could potentially lead with competitive products. "We see these reps as an extension of our sales force," said Jensen. "We are willing to take that responsibility. Frankly, I think they are going to remember who delivered this training to them."