Dell banks on partner program

Computer giant eyes a growth driver

Dell Inc.'s leadership structure in the federal
market has gone through several changes
during the past year.

In December 2007, the company landed
a big fish in Jim Duffey, a former EDS Corp.
government executive. Dell hired him to be
vice president and general manager of its
public-sector group.

But Duffey left in June and was replaced
by Frank Muehleman, who was named vice
president and general manager of the
Public Business Group.

Troy West, who had been running the
federal group before Duffey came on board,
is again in charge as the vice president and
general manager of federal and public-sector
channels.

The federal team under West includes:
Joe Ayers, area vice president, defense
field sales.

Max Peterson, area vice president, civilian
agencies and intelligence.
Ray McDuffie, director, Public Sector
Strategic Programs Office.

The company's registered
partners must:

  • Be an established hardware, software
    or services reseller.
  • Complete a partner application.
  • Agree to terms and conditions.


Certified partners must meet registered-partner requirements and also have:
  • Practice area specific requirements.
  • Appropriate third-party technical
    certification.
  • Relevant product/solutions
    certification.
  • Regular business practice reviews.
  • Demonstrated Dell product knowledge
    in the practice area.
  • At least one federal GWAQ contract.

In addition, certified partners must
meet five of the following criteria:
  • Have at least 20 employees who support
    the federal government.
  • Hold individual security clearances.
  • Hold a facility clearance.
  • Have available credit of $1 million or
    floor planning.
  • Be classified as a small business or
    qualify for another socioeconomic status.
  • Hold a General Services Administration
    schedule.
  • Carry Dell products on their schedule.
  • Be an active participant on Dell's
    Partner Advisory Council.

Dell Inc. continues to move away
from its direct-sales-only reputation
and toward the federal channel.
This time it is expanding its yearold
PartnerDirect program to include
a certification level for companies in
the federal market.

The computer giant began formalizing
its relationship with its channel
partners when it launched
PartnerDirect in December 2007.
The program, which includes commercial
and public-sector resellers,
spread from the United States to
Dell's partners in Canada and
Western Europe.

About 12,200 partners have registered
so far, said Greg Davis, vice president and
general manager of Dell's Americas
Channel Group.

In the government market,
PartnerDirect is adding a certification
level that is a step above the registered
partner level. Davis said he expects Dell to
use this model in international publicsector
markets, too.

"We've really tried to identify strong
partners who have very focused sets of
value-adds in a number of areas and limit
our certifications to those partners who
meet those qualifications and invest with
Dell," he said.

About 300 partners did business with
Dell in the federal sector last year. "We
want to ensure that we have them registered,
that we get them training material
[so] that they're certified on our solutions,
and when there are opportunities to grow,
that we have the opportunity to do that as
well," Davis said.

The certification level also includes
lead-generation assistance, incentive-based
co-marketing funds, expanded support
for deal registration and the use of
demonstration products. Partners that
got certification saw an 84 percent
increase in business with Dell year-over-year,
Davis said.

"We certainly see a growth in our registered
partners, partners who have gone to
the trouble of formalizing a relationship
with Dell, taking advantage of our portal,
our e-commerce tools, the training that is
available," Davis said. Registered partners
saw a 14 percent year-over-year increase
in their business with Dell.

STRATEGY STILL EVOLVING

With the addition of the federal certification
program, Dell has three certified
practice areas in the United States: managed
services, enterprise architecture and
federal.

"We're very much in the early stages of
what we can do with our partnering relationships,"
Davis said. "The framework
[of the program] is something that
we intend to roll out for our government-
sector businesses around the
world where we have partner programs."

"We look at our certified partners
in a very different light" from registered
partners, he said. They can take
advantage of enhanced pricing and
enhancements through deal registration,
market development funds that
Dell makes available, and returns
privileges.

Davis said Dell will continue to expand
those benefits as the certification program
matures as a way of repaying those firms
that have invested their time, resources
and money in Dell. In addition, the certification
program helps the company reach customers it has not reached before,
he added.

Dell's certified federal practice area consists
of 20 letter-of-supply partners.

Requirements for that group include holding
at least one governmentwide contract
and a General Services Administration
schedule, in addition to being a small business
or qualifying for another contracting
program. The companies also form the
Partner Advisory Council.

"We don't want to change that number,"
Davis said. "We want to look for ways to
enhance it, and we've been very particular
about anyone that we want to invest in
around a letter of supply and who is
investing in Dell."

Having 20 certified federal partners is
about the right amount, said Gino
Antonelli, executive vice president of
business development and service operations
at Intelligent Decisions, a Dell partner
and advisory council member.

"That's a manageable number of organizations
for them to actually get appropriate
feedback," Antonelli said. "I think that's
really important as a first step in establishing
a very, very strong channel program."

"In the federal space, we have a very
tight relationship with our partners, and
we're looking at how we can expand that
across all our public sectors," Davis said.

Dell will continue to work with 95 percent
of federal agencies, added Troy West,
a general manager and vice president at
the company. "We're now formalizing our
[federal] program with a certification
path underneath Dell's PartnerDirect
program," West said.

"We have made specific investments in
channel resources recognizing the benefit
of having people dedicated to support the
channel partners," he said. "What isn't
news is the fact that we support partners
in the federal marketplace. What is news
is that we're now formalizing our program
with a certification path underneath Dell's
PartnerDirect program."

West has assumed some of the duties of
Jim Duffey, former vice president and
general manager of Dell's Public Business
Group, who left the company in June.

West said Dell created a partner program
with GSA four years ago and now
has partners that run the gamut of contracting
categories.

PAYOFF FOR CUSTOMERS

"We've really learned how to work
together," West said. "We've learned how
to leverage one another's core capabilities,
how to integrate our teams together,
and these partners have been instrumental
in shaping the program."

Teresa Bozzelli, chief operating officer
and managing director at IDC
Government Insights, said the program
benefits the government, Dell's certified
partners and the company.

"The value for the government is [it's]
a collaborative exchange of information
that increases the understanding about
what the government needs and increases
the relationship between people who
understand Dell and the people who
need [information technology] capabilities,"
she said.

Bozzelli said the government and
PartnerDirect participants benefit from
the increased expertise and quality of the
Dell sales teams in the federal market.

"Any time we can increase the quality of
our technical teams, we're going also
going to be able to lower some implementation
costs," she said. "And, again,
that's good for government."

Dell benefits because it will be able to
increase its footprint in the federal market
without having to increase its sales
force, Bozzelli said. The program "is an
accelerator to get the Dell message out,
and an accelerator to leverage a collaborative
sales approach," she added.

Bozzelli said she sees only a small
downside for the participating channel
members. "The partners will need to
make an investment. But an investment
does increase your chances of a return,
called opportunity."

David Hubler (dhubler@1105govinfo.com) is
associate editor at Washington Technology.

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