HP Launches All-Out SMB Partner Offensive

HP Monday kicked off its Americas Partner Conference with an all-out offensive to increase its share of the SMB market, including a significant expansion of its SMB Elite program.

Stephen DiFranco, vice president and general manager, Solution Partners Organization (SPO), Americas, for HP, said HP is currently covering only 18 percent of the total available market in the U.S. SMB with its channel partners. "We've got a lot of growth there," he told partners in his opening session keynote. HP classifies SMB customers as those companies with between 1 and 999 employees.

Partners said they are seeing broad and deep HP investments in sales resources and tools in the SMB market that are going to lead to big sales gains.

Mitch Martinez, executive vice president of Derive Technologies, a New York, N.Y. HP partner, said he is excited about the renewed HP SMB push. "I'm glad they are focusing more on what they are calling SMB," he said. "There's a lot of Ms in SMB that are big accounts."

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The HP SMB Elite Expansion is aimed at getting more partners to sell the HP line into SMB accounts. The program expansion opens the door for partners to qualify for significant HP incentives at just $250,000 in annual revenue coming from SMB customers versus the current $500,000 annual commitment, said Meaghan Kelly, vice president strategy and SMB for HP SPO Americas.

Kelly said the the program gives smaller partners that are willing to step up and make an investment in HP an incentive to show their stuff. She said partners will have from May 1 to August 31 to qualify for the SMB Elite status by taking two training courses.

Next: SMB Elite Status Benefits

Among the benefits of the SMB Elite status are access to demo products and dedicated account resources, said Kelly. "We want the best in class partners in SMB selling across the HP portfolio," she said. "We are being extremely aggressive in going after this business."

Kelly would not disclose how many SMB Elite partners HP is looking to add to its partner ranks.

HP also announced a dramatic change in its PartnerOne program that for the first time gives HP partners who were selling printers the ability to count printing supplies as part of their PartnerOne benefits. That's a dramatic change that could lead to significant financial rewards for partners. "It's huge," said Scott Dunsire, vice president of Imaging and Printing Group Sales and Business Management for SPO, speaking of the financial benefits for solution providers.

HP also formally unveiled its new Healthcare Elite PartnerOne designation which opens the doors for partners selling into hospitals and health-care providers with the channel to earn significant financial rewards by partnering with HP to bring a full health-care solution to market.

The HP Americas Partners Conference has attracted more than 1,000 HP partners from across the country. HP CEO Mark Hurd is scheduled to deliver the keynote address to partners on Tuesday morning.