At last year’s Global Partner Summit (GPS), Dell Technologies declared it wanted to make it easier to do business with the channel.
The vendor said it needed to make it simpler for partners to procure and cross-sell products across its expansive technology portfolio and improve the speed and predictability of its quoting and rebate systems.
Fast-forward to GPS 2019 in Las Vegas this week and Dell was keen to show how its efforts with the channel were paying off. Since last year it has tolled out several new self-service capabilities, as well as improvements to the deal registration process, speed to quote and speed to pay.
Moreover, the channel was “carrying the bulk” of the $11 billion revenue growth this year, according to Bill Scannell, president, global enterprise sales & customer operations at Dell EMC.
Following its re-emergence as a public company, Dell won’t say how much of its business goes through the channel, but the company said the figure is more than 50 percent of its revenues. In addition, Dell’s channel business grew by 17 percent over the past year (significantly more than the company’s overall growth), with partners driving more than $50 billion in orders and generating 63,000 new and reactivated customers.
An issue of trust?
However, Dell’s spokespeople repeatedly spoke of the importance of trust between partners and the organisation. When asked if trust was an issue for partners, Cheryl Cook, Dell’s SVP, global partner marketing said it merely referred to Dell’s commitment to be more transparent with the channel.
“When we talk with our partners, they give us pretty straight, candid feedback,” Cook told Microscope. “That message of trust is to be straight up and straightforward that we want to foster and build trust, more predictability in the sales engagement. We’re going to continue to go work with our sales leadership to try and offer more predictability.”
On that subject, partners are – somewhat surprisingly – starting to see the benefits of working with a vendor that also has a direct route to customers, says Claire Vyvyan, SVP of Dell Technologies’ UK & Ireland Commercial Business.
“All the innovation you’re seeing being announced is driven on real customer feedback,” she told Microscope. “Dell has this massive reach into the customer marketplace which most of our competitors don’t have if you’re a channel-only company.”
Vyvyan noted that “for a long time the channel preferred companies that are channel-only “because you don’t have that tension.” But instead of worrying about a potential conflict of interest, she said the partner community is now starting to understand that “because we’ve got this massive organisation that’s talking to customers, all the innovation is driven by that and when we make great products and services; that’s a benefit to the channel.
“Instead of it being angsty, which [it has been] traditionally, we’re moving to this place where we have a relationship and we work hand in glove together with a partner. And that’s really good for the partners as well.”
Dell’s overarching goal for the channel is to get partners selling across its portfolio of “strategically-aligned business”, comprising Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, Secureworks, Virtustream and VMware. Its big channel announcement during GPC was its re-naming of the Dell EMC Partner Programme as the Dell Technologies Partner Programme, and that partners will now be rewarded for selling products from different parts of the business.
“We know we make it need to make it easier for you to leverage the Dell Technology portfolio, harnessing the power of these brands sets us apart from our competition,” Joyce Mullen, president of global channel, OEM & IoT at Dell Technologies, told partners.
Moving forward, Mullen said the company would continue tweaking its partner programme to make partners’ lives easier. The exec promised “some significant improvements” in automation, and more self-service this year. She also said Dell recognised that to meet today’s customer needs, partners likely have to expand beyond their initial designations as a systems integrator or service provider.
“We have to work to simplify the tracks that pigeonhole you and our current systems. And we’re going to do that,” she told partners, adding: “Our number one priority remains to make it easier for you to do more business with us. And we’re committed to doing that.”
Meanwhile, Scannell also promised further improvements to deal registration in the commercial space, and in end-to-end support, and make engagement with the company “a lot more predictable.”
“Our strategic imperatives remain consistent,” said Mullen. “We will keep on improving every single day so you can confidently lead with Dell Technologies in every single customer conversation.”