HP Unifies Storage, Server Sales Under Mark Gonzalez

Gonzalez said the move is the culmination of a shift in HP's thinking over the past year from a focus on product lines to a focus on customer needs.

"The reality is, everything is about the customer," he said. "If you focus on what the customer asks you to do, nothing can go wrong."

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., currently serves three types of customers: corporate and enterprise; public sector, including government, health and education; and small and midsize businesses, Gonzalez said.

Many customers in the three categories are facing issues regarding server, storage and supplier consolidation. The latter is especially important as customers increasingly demand relationships with fewer vendors but expect more from partners, especially those that can provide end-to-end solutions, he said.

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"Customers complain when different people come in and say they work for different groups within HP," Gonzalez said. "Customers say, 'Whoa, you're confusing me. ... I just want to deal with one person carrying an HP card.' "

The focus on customer needs and customer types has a particularly strong advantage for the channel, Gonzalez said. HP has about 12,000 accounts in the United States with more than 1,000 employees each. Of those, the company focuses its direct sales on about 750 customers, but they are still open to work with the channel if they choose.

"If HP focuses on 750 customers, then there are many accounts serviced exclusively by the channel where it's to HP's disadvantage to go direct," he said. "There is absolutely no way HP can lead direct in any more cases."

As customers look to consolidate suppliers, it makes sense for them to also consolidate their server and storage purchases on a single supplier, Gonzalez said. "Over 50 percent of server dollars are spent on storage, according to IDC," he said. "If we don't offer storage with our ProLiant servers, we are selling half a loaf of bread. The easiest customer to deal with is an existing customer."

By combining storage and server sales into a single organization but keeping specialists in specific areas such as Unix servers or Superdome servers, HP and its partners are better able to focus specifically on customer requirements, said Gonzalez.

"Before, I ran storage," he said. "Now I run storage and servers. Before, I had to ask the server people, 'We gotta work together, we gotta work together.' Now, I tell them they have to work together."

Gonzalez said he also expects the unified sales organization to help drive more predictability in the channel by showing partners how much they can benefit by doing business with HP, leading to a much more consultative relationship between the company and solution providers.

"So instead of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks, we can now consult with partners," he said. "Think about it, from who can you get more G2 intelligence than channel partners? They touch thousands more customers than we do."