Dell EMC's Cook On New Tier Thresholds, Potential VMware Program Integration, VeloCloud, And Pushing Partners To Go 'All In'

'Let's Just Keep Our Foot On The Gas'

As the joint Dell EMC Partner Program approaches its one-year anniversary, the company is pushing new incentives into the channel to meet new revenue thresholds with a "call to action" to drive storage sales.

Leading the channel charge for bringing together Dell and EMC's partner marketing efforts is Cheryl Cook. "We are focused on share gain. We know that comes at the expense of our competitors," said Cook, senior vice president of global channel marketing, in an interview with CRN.

Cook speaks with CRN about a variety of topics from channel strategy and new tier revenue thresholds, to pushing partners to strictly sell Dell EMC offerings and what VMware's acquisition of VeloCloud means to partners.

How did Dell EMC come up with the new tier revenue thresholds?

We gave ourselves a range when we launched the [joint] partner program in February to really just ensure, for the benefit of the partners, candidly, where they settled into. After two successful quarters and with quarter three under our belts, we announced what the minimum revenue thresholds were. Honestly, they were right within the zone. So from a planning perspective, we did our very best with the data we had at the time, and now the data has validated that the revenue thresholds are in line with where partners can achieve them. We've been pretty consistent in what our strategy is and what our priorities are for the partners. … We want to drive share gains.

How does the program drive partner share gains?

We are looking to have partners benefit from what we believe is a cross-selll opportunity for them, meaning your storage partner steps into selling server and other lines of business -- and vice versa. If you’re a client partner, step into the enterprise and sell servers and storage. That seems to be resonating. The program was designed to promote that.

We are focused on share gain. We know that comes at the expense of our competitors. … [Partners] have already delivered 20,000 net-new customers to Dell. Those are our [key performance indicators as] to what mutual success looks like. We're just focused on finishing the quarter strong, finishing this first extraordinary fiscal year as a combined entity, and staying humble. We're know there's tremendous growth opportunity for all of us.

You launched a new tier protection program for partners that are 'all in' with Dell EMC. Talk about this channel strategy.

For partners that are going to be all in with Dell, we are going to be all in with them. You can call it exclusive, but they don't really focus or invest in competitive alternatives. They're building their business and making exclusive investments with us, so we want to reward them for that. What you're seeing in this 'all in' announcement for making sure that they maintain their tier status is that they're demonstrating all of the attributes and characteristics that we want to reward. 'Your business is growing. You're selling more lines of business. You're expanding with new customers. You're driving services attach,' and for that, we are going to give them tier protection and maintain them at the tier status they're at. We're all in with them, and they're all in with us.

How important is it for partners to start selling more services?

We articulate services as a pot of gold. It certainly creates a better customer experience. We know our [Net Promoter Scores] are higher with services. It drives profitability for both the partner as well as us. You'll see us focus on maintaining services attach and, as a result, we're seeing our services grow, seeing top-line growth, seeing more lines of business sold.

Our ProSupport and ProSupport Plus services offering is now extending across our storage portfolios. So it gives a very simple unified services offering across the breadth of the portfolio. It also is a requirement from a services revenue perspective for partner tier attainment at the end of the year.

How should partners leverage Dell EMC's new 1.25X service accelerator?

For our current fourth fiscal quarter, we're offering that 1.25X services revenue accelerator, which will help partners achieve that revenue requirement from a services perspective for tier attainment at the end of the year. It's all focused on a better customer experience, more profitable revenue streams for both us and partners, and as part of the core program requirements. The accelerator we announced is just a kicker to help them get there.

If I'm a Dell EMC partner, how should I view VMware's recent acquisition of SD-WAN startup VeloCloud?

So today, VMware's partner program and Dell EMC's partner program is still separate. We share a lot of the same partners. It's a little premature, I can't speak on VMware's program, but I would say [VeloCloud] is another expression of just the strength and the power of Michael [Dell's] vision and where Dell Technologies is going to play a role in shaping this new software-defined data center. You're just seeing these trends now in virtualized networking, software-defined storage, software-defined networking, and we're going to continue to play a role. How we can reward partners in our Dell EMC program with the VMware program, stay tuned, there's more to come. Today, we're still separate programs.

Will VMware or SecureWorks become part of the Dell EMC Partner Program?

SecureWorks is a separate program. VMware is a separate program. We first focused on integrating and merging our Dell and EMC programs. We wanted to get that stable, understood and well-embraced by our partner community. At a management level, we participate in each other's Partner Advisory Councils. As a leadership team, we will continue to evolve on how we can stay aligned with our program. More to come potentially at a future state on where we may really kind of loosely couple benefits for those partners that are all in with Dell Technologies and investing in VMware, Dell, Pivotal, for example, but today, there isn’t a formal structure.

What's your call to action for the channel?

The one area of focus that we're really highlighting is storage. We are number one in the marketplace in multiple categories of storage -- whether you're talking all-flash, midrange, certainly the high range. It's a competitive marketplace out there. What I would ask of the partners is, for all the growth they're enjoying in our client and server business, it's a very natural sales motion to try and drive that storage growth on the back of the momentum of our server and our client growth we're having right now. That's my call to action. It's a very profitable piece of the business. Let's make sure that we're leveraging the momentum and the rest of the business to drive storage performance.

What's your message to the Dell EMC channel community during this last fiscal quarter of 2018?

My message is seize the moment. We are at a really unique opportunity in the industry. You hear [Dell EMC channel leader] John Byrne sometimes say that people regard us as the dark horse of the channel. We're just in an enviable position in that our partners have huge tremendous growth potential with us. The message to the partners is, it's an extraordinary time for us. The growth opportunity for them in embracing and investing and engaging with Dell EMC is tremendous. Look at the momentum we have in the market right now. Let's just keep our foot on the gas.