Dell Commercial PC Head Davis On Combating Channel Conflict, Selling An End-To-End Portfolio, And The Importance Of Partner Communication

Focused On Value

Greg Davis is firmly focused on winning share for Dell's commercial PC business. As president of global client solutions, the 15-year Dell veteran is forging a path for Dell EMC sales executives and partners to introduce PCs into their portfolios to round out their enterprise offerings.

"While others in our industry are breaking apart, we're very focused on a value proposition, which is keeping everything together," Davis told CRN. "What that requires is communicating that message to our new team members about the value of our PC portfolio."

Davis came to the commercial PC president job from a post heading go-to-market integration leading up to and immediately following Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC last year. The integration work continues, Davis said, but his goal is to allow partners to sell the entire Dell EMC portfolio as a one-stop shop.

All the while, Davis is keenly aware of any channel conflict that crops up, and says deal registration is perhaps the best tool partners have to avoid butting heads with Dell direct sales reps.

What follows is an edited excerpt of Davis' conversation with CRN.

What's your mission as head of the commercial PC business?

We're focused on winning share and growing our business. Those priorities haven't changed at all. We've undergone a tremendous integration. I'm very pleased. General feedback from our customers has been very positive. Feedback from our internal salespeople has been positive, and our partners have been very positive on the integration. With it, there are thousands of new people who really don't know the background and history of the PC business, so my big priority is ensuring we get that message broadly across the thousands of new team members we have.

What strategies are you using to combat any channel conflict that may come up?

We have a lot of partners in our community now. We have partners that potentially have conflict with each other. We still have a direct business. We have customers that still value a direct business. We continue to use deal registration as the primary vehicle, and as we're bringing those deal registration instances together, it'll get better and better. That's the primary vehicle that we have to use to manage any and all conflict with our partners.

What are you telling those who have come to Dell EMC from the EMC side and don't have experience selling PCs?

We start with the focus on our products and why it's an important part of our strategy long term. We're very focused on being an integrated, end-to-end company. While others in our industry are breaking apart, we're very focused on a value proposition, which is keeping everything together. What that requires is communicating that message to our new team members about the value of our PC portfolio. We talk about the value of the PC portfolio. We talk about the advantages that our customers and partners have when they talk about the entire portfolio. There are thousands of customers that have a great relationship with EMC and have yet to buy anything from Dell. Leveraging that conversation is a big priority for us. It starts with ensuring that new individuals coming in have a clear understanding of what value our PC portfolio brings. It's not something that'll happen in a week. Nothing happens overnight. But it's a strategic part of what it takes to build the business and grow.

What's your advice for solution providers who are thinking about how to position Dell PCs?

Our partners have to make a determination about where they want to focus their business. I'm very excited that [channel chief] John Byrne [pictured] and his team have developed a program that motivates our partners that want to be vertically focused, that want to be product/solution focused, as well as those partners that want to expand and offer end-to-end solutions to our customers. If you're one of those partners looking to expand your business, I think we offer a single program, a single company, a one-stop shop for everything you need and that has a lot of great value to our partners, let alone to customers.

What kind of feedback are you getting from partners about the end-to-end, or one-stop shop strategy?

It's evolving. We're still in the throes of integration, so one sheet of paper isn't always possible. But the intent is to move in that direction, and the partners see that intent. Being able to take advantage of it when they need to is a big advantage. Every situation, every customer account doesn't need it, but to know that you can, and to know that you've got one company behind you and can provide one line of credit for you, or one solution, is a bid differentiator for our channel partners.

What's being done internally to make sure you're ready to do those big, end-to-end deals when a solution provider is ready to pull the trigger?

John [Byrne] and his team continue to communicate with channel partners. It starts with the advantages, and our intent and constant updates on progress, which they've been very good at doing. One of John's missions has been to have open and regular dialogue and communication with our partners. A lot of it is communicating where we are in the integration process and what new programs are coming on line for partners. It's not a point-in-time thing. We're going to continue to grow and evolve. We're in the process of integration. There's a lot we've already done, and there are things we've got to improve on.

Do you and your team feel like you have the agility to communicate and adapt to partners' needs on a case-by-case basis?

We've always focused on that type of customer engagement. Our partners are big customers of ours. We're being as nimble as we can. We obviously can't do everything. We have to make those trade-offs on a regular basis, but I think our partners see that commitment on our part. It gives you the trust and confidence that you can rely on Dell and our teams and the portfolio of products that we have.

What do you need from partners?

To continue to invest in training and to understand and know our product portfolio. Take advantage of the teams we have. We have thousands of salespeople now interacting with customers, partners. Take advantage of all those resources to drive the right solution. That's a big opportunity for our partners. I said this years ago when I was involved in the channel more: Communicate. We have a very open dialogue with our partners, and when we see areas that we can improve on, communicate those. We probably can't do everything immediately; we certainly make progress as we work through issues.

What's exciting to you about the market now?

Bringing the companies together and the opportunity that it provides with a cohesive portfolio to our partners is very exciting. The number of customers who have had and continue to have great relationships with EMC and now we can talk to them about a broader portfolio is a huge opportunity and very exciting.

Are the EMC guys seeing the opportunity in selling PCs?

Absolutely. The feedback we got as we pulled together [showed partners were] very excited about the opportunity to expand the relationship with the customer -- it's not just having one relationship with one part of a customer, but having a much broader relationship across many different lines of business and the portfolio. They all see the opportunity.