Dell steps up channel marketing activities

At their Canadian partner event on Wednesday, Dell stressed their emphasis on driving more channel marketing activities, sour economy notwithstanding, and emphasized their building of the Future-Ready Enterprise brand with partners.

Bryan Jones Dell

Bryan Jones, Dell’s VP of North America Commercial Marketing

TORONTO – Dell is continuing to increase its channel support in search of continued growth. In addition to their programmatic partner activities, the company has been increasing its channel marketing activities, with a special emphasis on building their Future-Ready Enterprise brand.

“How do we more effectively help partners execute our strategy?” asked Bryan Jones, Dell’s VP of North America Commercial Marketing at a channel media scrum Wednesday at Dell’s third annual Canadian Partner Summit at the Westin Prince hotel in Toronto. “That’s where the Future Ready Enterprise comes in. It creates a soft landing spot, and is important from a top of the funnel brand- building expertise.”

Jones indicated that the Future-Ready Enterprise was both a go-to-market strategy and a pure marketing strategy. It is a partnering strategy which involves five levels of Dell Blueprints spanning five types of IT solutions from the traditional to the new. At the low end are Workload-Ready solutions, with partners Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and SanDisk, and Virtual Infrastructure-ready solutions with VMware and Microsoft. In the middle are Software-Defined Blueprints, with Nutanix, Nexenta and BigSwitch. Fourth are Cloud-Ready Blueprints, with partners Microsoft, VMware and OpenStack. The upper end is Big Data-optimized blueprints for Hadoop and Cloudera.

The Future-Ready Enterprise strategy puts Dell and its partners on the cutting edge of IT, and gives partners a clear deployment guide to help customers on their journey.

“The Future-Ready Enterprise positions partners for the future with things like Cloud and Big Data,” Jones said. “It is designed to help partners tell those stories.”

Jones also indicated the strategy is critical because a good portion of the public still doesn’t associate Dell with these kinds of solutions.

“We are making progress in our enterprise strategy, but we still have room to grow there,” he said. “People know we are in the data centre, but they still don’t see us with Big Data and the Cloud.”

Jones also stressed that Future-Ready isn’t simply this year’s marketing pitch.

“Future-Ready is a multi-year program,” he said. “Brands aren’t built in a day.”

More resources is another major part of the story.

“How do we invest in partners to help them lead the charge?” Jones said. “We are adding capacity. We are adding people. We are looking to make it easier to do business with us, in an environment where others are retrenching and changing direction. We are adding capacity to enable channel sales. We also have also done reorganization from an internal perspective to better work with the channel, such as having one inside sales leader who also works with partners.” He also acknowledged that being private helps make these investments in a recession.

Kevin Peesker 300

Kevin Peesker, Dell Canada’s President

“We’ve been public with adding 2000 people globally to work with customers and partners, and accelerated channel investment by adding 60 per cent more capacity,” said Kevin Peesker, Dell Canada’s President. “In this market, I don’t know who else is doing that.”

Peesker said that Dell’s improved capacity component is exemplified in investments in their online portal making it easier to price and quote, as well as investments in distribution.

“We improved the overall operational management of engaging with partners, making the deal registration portal faster and simpler to use,” he said. “We have had more margin dollars available for partners, which has been critical for us. We had a terrific couple of years beating the market and we would not have been able to achieve that if we had not doubled down on the partner community. We would not have achieved the 143 per cent increase in rebates over the past year that we did.”

Jones said the success of Dell’s Canadian channel event, which in its third year, has a third more partners than last year, and double the number at the first event, speaks to Dell’s success in spreading their message in the channel community.

“What’s significant is that we are not necessarily growing the number of partners, but that more partners see value in being here at the event,” he said. “Our opportunity continues to accelerate in the channel space.”

Peesker said it is paying off in ways few would have dreamed when Dell first entered the channel, and several deans of the Canadian partner community openly expressed their skepticism.

“There isn’t a scenario where there’s a partner in the country today who won’t deal with Dell,” he said. He indicated that almost all of their business in Saskatchewan had been direct, so he went out himself to the province and had meetings with every significant partner in the province and determined if they wanted to work with Dell.

“We have had some significant wins as a result,” he said.

Peesker also pointed out that some channel companies, like Softchoice, which not that long ago had ‘Kill Dell’ posters decorating their Toronto offices, had now come over to them.

“I never expected two and a half years ago to be named Softchoice’s partner of the year!” he stated.