Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dell Just Doesn't Get It

I have been vocal over the last few years about how a channel friendly vendor acts in a particular way, and that certainly is not how Dell thinks. They continue to infringe on partners while telling them out of the other side of their mouth that they want to be channel friendly. It just ain't so. Jeff Anderson from Bulletproof Networks in HTG10 wrote a very strong and accurate email about the reality of Dell and what they are doing. Take a read. The landscape continues to change at the same time as they are trying to convince us they want to work with partners. Baloney. Here are Jeff's words:

"We’ve been reselling Dell for nearly 5 years, and it’s been great right up until a few weeks ago when we were moved into the Partner Direct team. Now, they’re refusing to quote on any deals larger than 2 or 3 PCs unless we tell them who the end-customer is, and if the end customer has ever done business with Dell directly then we have to register the deal. By “register” they mean supply all the details and ask for permission to sell to this customer. I’m almost okay with that, since it protects us too by preventing the customer from shopping the deal around to get the best price, but it turns out that they won’t approve a deal unless it’s valued at $25K+ ($50K+ for non-profit or government). Maybe 20% of my deals will exceed $25K in Dell hardware.

So the upshot of all of this is that if I have a deal for a server and half a dozen new workstations, and my client happens to have ever dealt directly with Dell before, then I won’t be allowed to sell it. In fact, Dell won’t even give me a quote.

I’m way beyond pissed off right now - I’m actually enraged. And, yes, I could probably lie to Dell about who the end user is, or maybe split up my purchases so that I stay under the radar, but that kind of thing ’s just a bullshit waste of my time. Oh, and my first question upon learning about this forced deal registration nonsense was to ask how we get out of Partner Direct… And the answer? We can’t.

So much for Dell becoming “channel friendly” since they hired (former Dell Canada President) Greg Davis to develop a formal channel program. The irony is that I suspect that he actually thinks the new program IS channel friendly, but didn’t take into account the affect on smaller partners like us who live on smaller deals…

I’ve directly done about million dollars in business with Dell over the past few years, and probably influenced half again that much. I’m curious how much volume we have as a group, and if the rest of you are experiencing pain since moving to Partner Direct. If so, maybe together we do enough business to get someone at Dell to listen to us and remove these ridiculous restrictions, or maybe we should be seeing how interested HP would be in picking up all of that business instead

Well said Jeff. I appreciate your willingness to let me share it. Sounds channel friendly to me.....HP you have another opportunity to get it right and connect with partners. They keep serving the opportunity up on a silver platter. How about becoming easy to work with so partners don't feel forced to sleep with the enemy. Most don't want to do business with Dell. They just can't figure out how to work with HP.


Erick Simpson said...

Hi Arlin - boy it just keeps getting better and better for Dell Partners, doesn't it? I got the same update from a Dell Partner Direct briefing at ITChannelVision a couple of weeks ago. I also blogged on this strategy last December, illustrating how much Dell charges its Partners for its "MSP Certification" ($9k) for the privelege of allowing Dell to compete with them directly.

I just can't figure Dell out.

Erick Simpson
MSP University

karlp said...

Give them feedback!

As I mentioned in March, Dell Wants Feedback.

Gregory Davis, VP and General Manager of Dell gave out his email address and said "If we don't deliver and don't fulfill our promises, we want to hear about it."

And then he gave his email address:

Complete the circle.

Stuart R. Crawford said...

I hate to give the impression that I am defending DELL, well I AM, so no impression to be made. I cannot share these sames comments that Jeff states. We have had none of these experiences, ours has been wonderful, pleasurable and even to the point where I spoke with the Main Channel Guy for Canada today.

It is all about relationships, has anyone reached out to DELL to see what can be done, I know I had the manager responsible for the account managers call Jeff today on the phone, he responded immediately. It is all about relationships.

I enjoy a FANTASTIC DELL relationship and I have my secondary suppliers because of the way DELL goes to market, we can't do overnight, put that is cool.

You get what you give, so my challenge to those out there is this. What have you given that gives you the right to complain? Have you attempted to form a relationship or are you all like the majority of the partners that sit in their office and say GIMME GIMME GIMME. Sorry business with vendors isn't like that. You get what you give and all those having challenges with DELL are getting exactly what you are giving.

Just my 2 cents, this is something I am very passionate about.

Stuart Crawford
Calgary, AB

The Peer Guy said...


I love your passion and the way you have learned to work with vendors and find the positive and really take advantage of it. In most cases, you are right on target. Unfortunately I got a whole lot of feedback on this post, and you are the lone voice that is ecstatic about Dell. To be fair, there are plenty of people upset with HP, IBM, Sonicwall, Microsoft etc. But the difference is the reason most partners are ticked off. They do not trust Dell and shared many examples of being lied to, mistreated and generally not treated like a partner. The others screw up plenty, but it usually is not in just plain violation of the rules the channel plays by. That is the difference. I have no experience with Dell. Have never sold one bit of product from them. My experience comes through the dozen of partners who speak with me through HTG and other industry connections. The response is 100 - 1 and the scale is tipped pretty far against them being channel friendly. That said, if it works for anyone, you should ride the horse as long as it runs. My advice is to watch out for any surprises and when they come, do exactly what you did, get on the phone and make someone explain why. As partners, we need to engage the vendor when we cry foul. Not just cry, but find out what the motivation was for their action. If it doesn't align with our strategy, we take our business elsewhere. That is how we vote in the channel. But we need to engage first. I look forward to the result of your HTG10 call with Greg. If I hear a lot of swayed partners I will be fair and let people know that too.

Vlad said...

You can't change companies with feedback, only with money and loyalty:

Anonymous said...

My name is Mike, I’m the channel liaison for Dell. I read this article with interest and I appreciate your outlook, as well as Jeff’s, on the actions that Dell has taken and how some partners are viewing our progress and program. It gives us a direction to focus on for improvement, which is something we’re always looking for. I am, nonetheless, a little disappointed with the comment you left for Stewart. The Dell PartnerDirect program is constantly evolving and we’re expecting it to progress greatly over the next 18-24 months, but we’ve also made some great progress in the channel market so far. Just a few examples (which I only include because of your comment about Stuart being the lone voice)

PartnerDirect is a long term commitment for Dell, and mistakes will be made, but we’re working to get this right and I believe we’re enlisting help from the best people to make that happen, our partners and the channel community.

I also think it’s important to note that Dell didn’t just jump into the channel market unprepared and ill intended. We’ve recruited the help of experienced channel venders:, which have been an invaluable source of guidance and implementation for us. We also do our best to keep open lines of two way communication and take feedback as it comes, and as Karlp mentioned, VP Greg Davis has made himself available to listen to the concerns of our partners directly.

We know we’re not going to build trust overnight; these relationships will take time to develop. If you come across some readers who need help I’d be glad to get the appropriate people involved, just email me or our Community Channel Manager and we’ll get the ball rolling.

On a side note, we’ve escalated Jeff’s account information to our sales team, but we’re unable to confirm the information that he posted. I’d like to get him engaged with the people that can help get this squared away for him so if you can help in any way I’d appreciate it.

Again, thanks for the article!

Dell Channel Liaison

The Peer Guy said...


Thanks for responding. As one who interacts with hundreds of partners through our HTG peer groups, I have a decent pulse on a pretty broad group but certainly not the thousands that exist in the channel. So to be fair, my comments are based on a specific set of companies and not the entire channel when I call our our good friend Stuart as the lone voice. He is a passionate man who is willing to share that passion openly which I love about him.

The fact that Greg jumped on a call with HTG Canada this week and began a dialogue and you are reaching out to Jeff to resolve this issue is a glimmer of hope that change may be happening. Responding to the channel when they cry foul is important. Sometimes we are totally off base when we cry wolf, but the key is to engage and work through it rather than ignore and leave us in the dark.

I am appreciative of your post and the willingness that has been shown to help work through this issue. You don't have me convinced yet - that happens by consistent actions over time - but I am open to seeing a new way of relating to the channel. I am not so narrow minded I won't eat crow if I mis-characterized Dell. But the proof will be in the pudding over time. Thanks again for taking time to respond.

Anonymous said...

A chance is all we're asking for, and thanks for being open minded about this whole move. I'm sure we'll be talking more in the future, but if you have anything for me or Amie in the mean time... you know how to find us.

Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

This falls under "The Godfather" rule. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

If you sell Dell I suggest you go ahead and order from CDW as well and have the items direct shipped to your client.

This way you soon won't have to worry about EVER having to sell any hardware or software to your clients ever again.

You will be able to focus entirely on your profitable services.

Brad Johnson said...

I did give them feedback last night. On my way out of the office, I sent an email to Greg Davis and assumed, much like when I worked at a fortune 100 retail company, the email would go to a team monitored mailbox and I would get a response from a PR type person...
To my absolute surprise, I not only got an email back in 45 minutes, but it was from Greg! He responded from the SFO airport where he was waiting for a flight! In addition, when I got into the office in the morning, there was a voice mail from him from last night.
I know that folks have had issues with Dell in the past. It has been a rather interesting ride for us as well. We haven't been burned yet, but we are keeping things at an arm’s length just to be safe. It is amazing how perception is one's reality. I will say this, I am not defending Dell, but to receive this type of response at least "shows" that they have their ears open. Obviously actions will speak louder than words, but it is a start. I plan to share our concerns around the registration process and what I haven't heard anyone mention is the fact that Microsoft partners who sell software through Dell don't receive credit. Obviously OEM doesn't count whether you sell Dell or Disty product, but the CAL's and other products do. We are selling HP through Disty today. But, we haven’t heard a Peep out of them. We are working with our Distribution partner to receive the assistance we need until we show up on the HP radar.