Dell Helping Partners With Social Skills

Dell global channel marketing and programs chief Kathy Schneider

Dell global channel marketing and programs chief Kathy Schneider

Dell Inc. has been training partners on the finer points of social marketing for about a year, but with social media maturing and resellers mastering the basics, the time has come to take the instruction to the next level.

The Round Rock, Texas vendor is doing just that with a revamped channel partner training program it calls Social Media 2.0 that’s designed to give participants more practical, functional strategies for putting social media to work in their day-to-day marketing efforts.

“Areas where we were high level we’re now taking it to the next level,” Kathy Schneider, Dell’s executive director of global channel marketing and programs, tells Channelnomics. “We’ve had indications [over the past year] that partners were getting more savvy with social efforts. This is about delivering the help that’s needed to make partners better at what they do.”

Dell’s revamped social media training will be available to certified partners through live events and recorded, on-demand sessions and covers topics like setting social media goals, tracking social efforts and social networking best practices. The material includes deep dives into business marketing aspects of the popular platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as leveraging relationships with industry bloggers and online influencers and using community tools like online forums.

The program heavily leverages Dell’s own internal social media experience, which is among the most robust and active of the major vendors. “The best way to approach this is to show them by example that this is something that’s going to add value,” said Schneider. “They’re hearing what it can do for them, and seeing how it’s helping other.”

Dell partners who’ve experienced the first iteration of Dell’s social training say they’ve seen and felt the value of the program firsthand.

“Last year we did the Dell social media training, and prior to that we had very little presence on social media at all,” said Jon Beck, a Strategic Alliance Manager at U.K.-based solution provider Fordway Solutions Ltd. “Following the training, we realized we needed a more structured approach, and that has really paid off. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new training can help us take social media to the next level.”

 “The first Dell training session was very helpful, and MCPc absolutely uses social media to engage with Dell,” said Jed Ayres, SVP of Partner Management and Marketing for MCPc Inc. in Cleveland. “We follow Dell’s social properties and frequently tag Dell on Twitter. The ultimate goal is to get exposure through Dell, but also it creates a great internal dialog that keeps us aligned on our joint activities.”

The social media effort isn’t the only item on Dell’s training docket. The vendor is also prepping new brand training for partners set to roll out later this summer. Curriculum will cover branding fundamentals like effective use of logos, imagery, and collateral design, according to Dell officials, who say they hope such advice will bolster partners’ ability to represent Dell products and solutions to their customers.

“Our partners are an important extension of Dell’s sales capability and play a key role in promoting our brand,” said Schneider. “Together with our solutions and social media trainings, we hope to provide our partners with the knowledge and tools to help grow their business with Dell.”

Partner education plays a major role in Dell’s partner enablement strategy. Earlier this year, Greg Davis, vice president and general manager of global channels told Channelnomics that ramping up partner skills across Dell’s growing portfolio was a top priority in the vendor’s PartnerDirect program.

“We’ve chosen to differentiate ourselves based on partner capabilities on Dell solutions. If you want to achieve higher status in our program, deeper engagement, maximum benefits then we want to see people that are highly trained and highly competent on our solutions,” Davis said.

Last year Dell’s top 25 partners based on training investment grew their Dell revenues by 33 percent. “That’s a big number in this economy especially when the industry is struggling to eke out one or two percent growth,” Davis said. “That’s the reason I harp on it so much. We, as a team, believe that the partner who is the best trained is going to grow the best with Dell.”

Schneider maintains the social and brand training initiatives also mesh well with other recent, partner-centric efforts like last month’s launch of a dedicated PartnerDirect technical community on the Dell TechCenter. The new TechCenter PartnerDirect community page gives registered partners a new online community space for sharing and discovering more technical information on Dell-based solutions. With it, Dell resellers can access conversations and knowledge being shared by the more than 350,000 IT professionals who access TechCenter each month.