HP combines partner training offerings into HP University

HP Americas channel chief Stephanie Dismore

HP Americas channel chief Stephanie Dismore

CHICAGO — HP is combining all of its training and certification programs under the HP University umbrella, and is adding more vendor-neutral third-party content to the mix at the same time.

Unveiled at its Reinvent Global Partner Forum here this week, HPU combines the company’s product- and solution-centric training and certification content (predominantly self-paced and prominently online) with more general solutions sales training both from the company and from third parties.

“We believe partners people are key to everything we do collectively, and we’re determined to help them continue to grow in a fast-changing marketplace,” said Stephanie Dismore, HP Americas channel chief. “Our goal with HP University is to provide the best-in-class training solution for your workforce. HP will benefit from that by the value your people will deliver to HP.”

The model for various types of content under HP University will differ. Training around the company’s wares — both product-level and solutions-level — will remain free, although partners will pay for the exams required for certifications as per normal. That content will be developed and delivered by the company, largely online.

But the University also aims to provide a repository for non-HP-specific training programs — covering broader industry topic like understanding solutions selling, selling based on customer outcomes, and understanding the switch in selling skills needed to go “from transactional to contractual,” as embodied by HP’s twin recurring revenue pushes of managed print services and device-as-a-service. That content will be available on a paid basis, and will be developed and delivered by third-party training partners. Here, HPU will make available to partners the same training content the company offers its sales people internally, said Gary Simms, vice president of Americans commercial channel programs.

“IT’s beneficial to us because it helps get our partners going at the same pace we are, because we’re doing it together, “ Simms said.

Gary Simms, vice president of Americas commercial channel programs at HP.

Gary Simms, vice president of Americas commercial channel programs at HP.

He offered the example of a larger partner that’s hiring 25 to 30 inside sales reps per month, which could benefit from an HPU-delivered capacity for offering an introduction to inside selling, some basics around hunting, and start building knowledge around solutions selling.

Those courses will largely be classroom-based, and will carry a fee, although Dismore said HP would make MDF available to help pay for that training.

In the future, Dismore suggested that HPU will be expanded to include content that will help partners build marketing capabilities in their people. And Sims added that HP’s services training efforts could easily fall under the HPU umbrella in the future.

“We could have called it HP Sales University, but that’s not what it is,” Simms said. “It’s HP University, and that leaves us open to expand it into other areas that are relevant to us, and services would certainly be one of them.”

HP University is now available to all solutions providers in HP’s Partner First channel program. Today, completion of any HPU content beyond the content oriented around certifications is not mandatory for program members, although Dismore suggested that making HPU training a requirement at various levels is “a discussion we’re having” for the future.

HP Americas President Christoph Schell said the company prefers to take “a bit of a carrot approach” to encourage partners to take part in training, but suggested that HP University enrollment and involvement would be one of the things HP would look at when deciding with which partners to pursue new markets and opportunities.

“When we go into new markets, we’ll find the partners who are spending time with us,” Schell said.

Mary Ann Yule, president of HP Canada, said that University presents the company an opportunity to “elevate the entire industry” and to help partners address some of the biggest concerns in the channel, most notably sales shifts from IT conversations to business conversations, and from product-centric “sell and implement” deals to long-term as-a-service “contractual” deals.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.