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HP redesigns PartnerOne channel program

Elite and Preferred Partner designations are added as HP pushes competencies

HP Canada (NYSE: HPQ) has made some significant changes to it PartnerOne.ca umbrella channel program on the heels of a refreshing by its U.S. parents of their program.

New to the program will be the Elite and Preferred Partner designations. Both these designations will be based on channel partner competencies, which is an area HP is interested in building more of in its channel network.

In Elite, HP is trying to get customers to recognize the value of an Elite channel partner. For example, if a customer is looking for a virtualization solution, they can write into an RFP that they will only accept Elite virtualization partners.

Now that Elite is on the books, HP Canada is in the midst of educating its end user sales force. According to Dave Frederickson, HP Canada’s channel chief and lead executive of its Solution Provider Organization (SPO), HP’s internal sales forces is where the selling starts and they need to understand the Elite designation to be able to plant the seed in customers about partner specialties.

There will be a difference in revenue clips for Elite partners. Heather Kent, HP Canada’s channel marketing manager, said the company is trying to balance what matters to an end user. There will be a role for a volume reseller and a value reseller, and profiling solution capabilities will be critical to this.

The Elite partner base will include those who are specialized in networking, virtualization, education, printing and storage, while the Preferred Partner area is expected to bring in hundreds of more partners to the mix. Kent said that these partners are the types that never would have had access to the PartnerOne program before.

The intent of Preferred Partner is to include more channel partners into the PartnerOne framework so that they can take advantage of the brand recognition, and the many tools and resources the program offers. “We want them to get in front of the customer and brand themselves as an HP partners. This is important to us, especially in the local markets because it helps us extend our reach,” Kent said.

As with Elite, Preferred Partners don’t have to reach a certain revenue clip level as they would have had to in the past. Frederickson said that a reasonable dollar amount would be $1 million in a small geography such as Interior B.C., and couple that with gaining capabilities then they will become a strategic partner of HP Canada.

“For us (with Elite and Preferred Partner) it is about driving what would be an appropriate share of wallet, while at the same time enable them to take advantage of the PartnerOne structure where they would not have had this opportunity in the past,” he said.

David Reid, president and CEO of Winnipeg’s Epic Information Solutions, said because of where his home city is located in Canada, his company has to be HP’s representative on the street.

“We had to make some major decisions in the past and one of the good ones was to double down on HP and pick one major manufacturer and focus our energy on one,” said Reid. “It turned out to be right.”

Reid added that HP’s wide product sets save his company time and money. From a PartnerOne perspective, since Epic has to manage one channel program instead of many they’ve gained cumulative returns with demand generation funds that enabled the solution provider to hold marketing events that draw more than 300 people.

Frederickson said with the redesign of PartnerOne, HP is trying to align the strategy of building competencies in the channel with its own infrastructure worldwide.

“We want to leverage the best of what is out there; while at the same time have a high degree of autonomy in our strategy for PartnerOne. This is not a revolution, but an evolution,” Frederickson said.

HP’s redesign of PartnerOne.ca is also seeking to reduce program administration costs, simplify partner administration areas and make HP payments more predictable for the channel.

Frederickson added that after four and half years at the SPO job it is healthy to be critical. For example, smaller partners still have too many administrative tasks when dealing with HP on rebates. Also Frederickson wants to try to bring the successful ARM program down to smaller partners.

“I can tell you that I am not where I want to be with easy of doing business. We are a complex, big company and we also compete with niche competitors and it is a never ending job,” he said.