In a move that would have been unthinkable in the not-too-distant past, Dell's direct sales force will soon be knocking on the doors of resellers when a pilot kicks in that ties part of their bonuses to channel sales.
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Only six months ago the US PC maker launched the Partner Direct channel scheme and neutralised compensation for direct and indirect sales so as to minimise channel conflict.
But Dell now plans to withhold its quarterly bonuses paid to its direct sales teams' unless they can demonstrate that channel partners have accounted for one third of their revenues in a move designed to give resellers more authority.
Talking to Microscope, Josh Claman, Dell vice president of EMEA channels, said it wanted to create channel advocates in its direct sales force and would use financial rewards to shape staff behaviour.
"We are running some experiments so instead of a sales person being indifferent to selling direct or through the channel they will not make their targets without co-operating with the channel," he said.
It is understood that Dell wants its direct sales teams to generate one third of their revenues with resellers, though that figure could vary slightly depending on sector, technology or profile of the customer.
"If the channel partner can prove they have been working with a specific account the direct guys will step back but get a higher level of compensation in doing so," he said.
Claman at Dell said "sale people are meat eaters and focused on what brings immediate value.
"If we change compensation so that they won't hit targets or go into the accelerator [bonus] without the channel, they [will] get very excited about the channel," he said.
Alistair Edwards, senior analyst at Canalys, said using compensation to change behaviour was a well tested methods used by vendor and thought it was a positive move for Dell and its partners.
"Other rivals should be worried because Dell is clearly listening to the channel about what they require," he said.