Dell’s Newly Enhanced Partner Program…a step in the right direction?
I’m eating my words. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do that often. So here goes. Back in my global channel professional days I worked for EqualLogic. I was one of those channel folks who ate, slept, and breathed the channel (still am). So when I got the news in 2008 that Dell (one of the less channel friendly companies) was buying EqualLogic I couldn’t get my resume updated quickly enough. “They just don’t get it and they never will” are the wordsI’m about to eat…just in case you were wondering.
On May 9, 2011 Dell announced enhancements to their partner program. After reading the release I must admit, they totally get it. Yes, I said it. They get it.
Make the change, make it right
Dell didn’t just throw up a program and say “look what we made” as they and others have done in the past. Plenty of programs have been created in a bubble and more often then not, they’ve failed miserably. Per Bob Skelley, Executive Director, Global Channel Partner Program and Channel at Dell (and incidentally my former boss) “This has been a year in the making. We included partners upfront and their feedback has been great”.
To truly get that partner feedback and create a program where partners would thrive, Dell also engaged two consulting organizations to build out this new framework. Full disclosure, Channel Maven consulting wasn’t one of them.
What’s so great about this enhancement?
Simply put? Give and take. Dell has created a ‘Premier’ level with increased benefits including rebate programs, bringing more profitability to partners who show that level of investment. The biggest difference? Dell is thinking about the customer when putting in place commitments and benefits from their partners. It doesn’t do much good to require partners to do something that, in the end, doesn’t actually drive more business or help the partners support customers.
Dell is also finally partnering with a 3rd party provider to offer true deal registration and incentive administration. You don’t want to know how it was done in my day but let’s just say partners weren’t exactly getting paid the month incentives were accrued. Heck, some of them weren’t even getting paid that quarter.
Also happy to see that Dell is not charging partners for training, thereby enabling partners of any size to get certified. Dell has stuck by this and I have to believe in part because Skelley himself, who I remember in training discussions being adamant about not charging partners to be better at selling our products.
What does this REALLY mean to partners?
Skelley feels the Premier level is a great opportunity for partners of all sizes, “True small shops, you know 3-5 person entities are still going to find the certification and revenue commitments still within scope. We really structured this – with the feedback of our partners – so that it is attainable.”
I spoke with a couple of partners, some of whom already work with Dell, while others have sworn off working with them in the past. The general consensus is that this is another step in the right direction. When asking those that, like me, may have to eat their words if they’d consider working with Dell now, there was a verbal shrug of the shoulders and a “we’ll have to see.” Dell most likely still has to keep their direct team in check, but these enhancements are sure showing the channel some love.
Spell it out for me
The information on partner levels below is straight out of the press release from Dell:
Dell Premier Partners: Premier partners who demonstrate the highest level of commitment, earn two Dell certifications, and maintain a minimum annual revenue threshold. New benefits include: rebates on qualified products; access to the Product Incentive Program, designed to provide additional financial incentives for key Dell products and solutions; 180-day deal registration; unlimited concurrent deal registration; potential access to Dell-generated leads; and priority access to Resource Desk.
Dell Preferred Partners: Previously known as Dell Certified Partners, Preferred Partners are recognized experts in key Dell solutions, have at least one Dell certification and reach a minimum annual revenue threshold. New benefits include: enhanced deal registration terms (120 days), including extended deal registration for storage products and access to Dell-generated leads.
Dell Registered Partners: Benefits for Dell Registered Partners remain the same.
So? What do you think? Do they “get it”? Would you work them as a partner?