Dell moves to address channel conflict

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Dell moves to address channel conflict

Paul Kunert

Dell has expanded throughout the entire organisation a UK pilot that precluded its direct sales team from achieving their bonuses without using the channel, in an attempt to kick-start wider collaboration with reseller partners.

As revealed by MicroScope in September, Dell trialled an initiative with one internal team and a bunch of resellers to create channel advocates among its direct sales force and foster a new culture of partnering.

Direct sales teams have been given sales targets that will be difficult to achieve without leaning on resellers, said outgoing EMEA channel boss Josh Claman, who is moving to lead the public sector division in the region.

"We will be assigning quotas that will be hard or almost impossible to achieve without using the channel, we'll tell them that there are partners working on their patch and to hit targets they will have to use the channel," he said.

In January, Dell merged its channel account and direct sales team into four global customer segments including Public Sector, SME, Large Enterprise and Consumer.

This structural change together with the overhaul of internal reward mechanisms are designed to minimise channel conflict which according to UK partners continues to dog the vendor a year after it launched the Partner Direct scheme.

"I think that is why we called for a pretty dramatic change in how we structure the channel. I can't imagine anything more that we could do to train channel advocates in our direct sales teams," said Claman.

The recent departure of Andy Dow, UK channel director at Dell, has unsettled partners and caused some to question if Dell was committed to them for the long term.

The company has also recruited two new heads to run Europe as revealed last month. Emmanuel Mouquet has been appointed as EMEA channel sales director and Kathy Schneider as EMEA channel programme manager.

Mouquet said: "There are lots of things that partners can do which we can't. Will our internal [direct sales] culture change overnight? No, but it is changing day by day."

In two to three years Dell will become the preferred vendor of choice for partners, said Greg Davis, vice president of global commercial channels.

"We listen to our partners and we make adjustments to our programmes, it is going to take some time but I am confident that the structural changes we are making will lead to greater opportunities to collaborate with partners," he said.

The instances of conflict may have reduced in the last year but Dell is banking on partners having a little patience while it plays catch up with rivals that have been operating in the channel for the last 25 years.

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