Dell builds up its channel, but loses Canadian channel chief

Greg Davis, Dell’s channel chief, has added the Canadian channel chief duties to his job after the sudden retirement of Frank Fuser.

According to Davis, Fuser was supposed to run Dell’s channel business in Canada.

His appointment was announced March 7th of this year. His retirement will usher in a new North American approach to the way Dell views its channel business.

Paul Cooper, vice-president and general manager, relationship sales group for Dell Canada will work together with Davis on the company’s Canadian channel.

“Given that I was president of Dell Canada, I understand the Canadian market,” Davis said.

As for Fuser, Davis defended his former co-worker by saying that his lack of channel experience did not lead to the retirement decision.

Davis added that the plan will be for him to be in charge of the Canadian channel operation for the long term.

The Partner Direct channel program has managed to grow in the number of partners. Currently, Dell has 6,722 new channel partners of which 647 are Canadian.

“That is nine per cent of the U.S. number and it’s a better story for us in Canada and it certainly shows we have made good progress in Canada,” Davis said.

In Dell’s certified partner category, the company has 367 partners who have signed up for either the enterprise certification or the managed services certification.

Davis characterized that effort so far as “fair.”

Michelle Warren, market analyst for Info-Tech Research, has been watching Dell’s progression in the channel and concurred with Davis’ assessment.

“The Canadian number could grow more and should be in the double digits. Once that happens it could be characterized as great, now it is just good,” she said.

Warren also believes the certification categories should be better on a North American level. “The partners are waiting to see how Dell responds to them. There is still a period of wait-and-see going on to build up the trust factor. It will take at least another year before partners move over to the certification area,” she said.

The key part of Partner Direct is its deal registration program and Davis said that so far there is $312 million worth of opportunities since the site launched. He has approved 80.6 per cent of the registered deals so far.

“Those deals help our partners lead with Dell and for Dell to lead with our partners,” he said.

The company also launched an E-Commerce Web page for partners to buy fully configured products with special partner pricing from Dell. Under this Web site, there will also be some training, technical support, and marketing materials.

CDN obtained a copy of Dell’s deal registration program and its terms and conditions and sent it to two Canadian channel partners who have found some holes in the plan.

Stuart Crawford, vice-president at Calgary-based IT Matters, is a Dell partner who is not using the deal registration program because of its $75,000 minimum deal size.

Crawford considers this to be way too high for the majority of Canadian based solution providers. He believes it should be at $25,000 for this market.

Davis has met Crawford half way. He said that after Dell got the program operational they decided to bring it down to $50,000.

“What I would tell you is that the basic premise I have is to be able to work with partners and look them in the eye and approve his registration. As we get better in Canada, we’ll try to bring those limits down for partners. Our goal is to increase the number of opportunities; not limit them,” Davis said.

Randal A. Kalpin, vice-president operations and business development for Consolidated Information Technologies Inc., a non-Dell partner, pointed out several more holes such as:

Dell can terminate the deal registration agreement and pursue the opportunity directly when a partner fails to respond to Dell’s communication;

Little to no consequences for Dell’s direct sales staff for violating the program; currently they just lose their commission; and

No telephone accessible arbitrator for deal registration disputes. Under this plan, all disputes must be sent in to Dell in writing long after there is a chance to right a potential wrong.

Davis called the last suggestion a good one and something he would consider implementing. As for Dell’s direct sales staff losing their commission he said that it is just step one in the process. He could not add any further details as it would be a human resources issue.

Davis also admitted that the company has made some mistakes in this process. Some deals that were terminated were as a result of mis-reading the deal. Davis worked to resolve those particular mis-steps. There have also been other terminations because of incomplete forms or mis-information from the partner.

“Our goal is to create an environment where partners are motivated to work closely with Dell and as we sign more approved deals they will have confidence to work with us.

If we take them and do it directly then we are not living up to our commitments,” he said.

There is also a limit of 10 deals a partner can register at one time. Certified partners may register 20 deals at one time. This is to prevent partners from registering every company in the Yellow pages.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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