New emphasis on services highlights Dell EMC 2018 partner program requirements

Dell EMC has announced its thresholds and tiers for 2018, and while there are some changes from the previous system, the biggest, by far, is the emphasis on services for tier eligibility, not just for rebates.

John Byrne, Dell EMC global channel chief

Dell EMC global channel chief John Byrne and his team announced the thresholds and tiers for the program for next year. Byrne also provided additional detail on several other initiatives, most of which had been previewed to some degree earlier. Recent enhancements to Dell EMC’s storage product and program offerings were also emphasized.

Byrne emphasized three themes in the program update.

“We have established the requirements for placement in the program for next year,” he said. “Secondly, services are a pot of gold, and we are providing additional benefits there for next year. Thirdly, we are making storage more lucrative.”

Likely the most anticipated part of the news is the thresholds and tiers for next year. This is particularly important this upcoming year because it is the first where partners in the combined Dell EMC company have to meet specific qualifications for tiering.  The current fiscal year had the tiers determined by grandfathering, according to the best status in either the legacy EMC or legacy Dell programs.

“The tiering this year went with a status match approach.” said Kim DeLeon, Vice President, Global Channel Programs at Dell EMC. “In February, we launched a series of ranges, which had very different thresholds from the old ones, and gave partners a year to qualify. All of the thresholds which we have now determined on for the audit were within the ranges we provided for partners. We did not go outside them. This audit will be the first time being audited against parameters of new program.”

Whether partners perceive the tier qualifications as more rugged to achieve will likely depend on the nature of their business – and particularly the extent to which they attach services, which has now gone from a ‘nice to have’ to a prerequisite for tier status.

“The new program focuses on four key tenets: growing business; net new business; selling the full portfolio; and attaching services,” DeLeon said. “Now you have to attach services for tiering. If a partner doesn’t do that, they will see this as a negative.”

The program, as defined for the U.S. zone, and which is substantially the same in Canada, has two paths.

“The first has a higher revenue requirement, but lower training requirement,” DeLeon said. “Typically, these are larger partners, but who sell fewer lines of business. The second group is our portfolio partners, who are heavily invested in training. They have lower revenue thresholds, and can reach higher tiers on lower revenues.”

For the first path, Gold requires $5,000,000 in revenues, including $500,000 in services. That 10-1 ratio  is consistent in the other tiers. Platinum requires $25 million and $2.5 million from services, and Titanium $50 million, including $5 million from services. The second path’s revenue requirements are, of course, lower.

“As far as whether it represents an increase in the overall thresholds, it’s a mixed bag,” DeLeon said. “EMC had higher thresholds last year. The focus on services is distinctly different though. Dell had rebates on services before, but they weren’t a factor to reach a tier in the program, as they are now.”

DeLeon said that a change made to the Platinum level services revenue required earlier in the fall should not be interpreted as a signal to lower the bar for attaching services. She indicated that a new 1.25x tier services accelerator would be in effect for all services revenue for Q4. Another change is that VXrail has been made eligible for New Business Incentive rebates, starting in Q4.

The deal registration process has been revamped and toughened up to offer greater protection against both other partners and the internal sales team.

“We are making the process even clearer,” Byrne said. “We have a brand new deal registration team under Stephanie Mims. “It’s really about winning as a collective team, and there is now a zero tolerance policy both internally and externally on deal registration.”

A new tool has been added to let partners track program status, including training competencies, overall revenue and services revenue.

Dell also formally announced a program that Byrne has been indicating has been coming from some time at regional channel events – a  new tier protection program for partners who exclusively sell Dell EMC storage, networking and servers. DeLeon said that partners who meet this requirement, as well as the services and multiple product requirements, will be rewarded by having their tier protected for 2018.

“This is massive news on exclusivity,” DeLeon said.

The deadline to complete the training and competency requirements for 2018 is December 31. The revenue deadline is February 2, the end of the Dell Technologies fiscal year.

Erica Lambert, ‎Vice President, Global Channel Services Sales at Dell EMC, provided more details around the services offerings, including a restatement of the earlier warnings that if a partner doesn’t sell services, they won’t make an attractive program tier.

“We are paying big for attaching services,” she said. “Not attaching services jeopardizes your program status.” She also reiterated a recent common theme from Dell EMC, that while they pay a lower percentage on services than HPE, they pay it on a much larger deal size.

“We pay on the total value of the box, not just on the services component,” Lambert stated.

Lambert stressed that the greatest opportunity for partners here is to make sure they drive deployment services, attaching ProSupport and ProSupport Plus to every box.

“We have made it easier to include services in storage deals,” she said. “ProSupport and ProDeploy are now available across the entire enterprise portfolio. PC-as-a-service is also now eligible for the services rebates and accelerator as well.”

Lambert indicated some new tools around services are also now available to partners.

“We have created a “How to Win with Services” toolkit so partners will know the support options and all the services,” she said. “We have also built new Line of Business sales guides.”

The storage component of the announcement was significant, but was essentially a reiteration of the midmarket-focused announcement Dell EMC made earlier in the week. This included new Unity software, two new SC All-Flash storage arrays, the Dell EMC SC5020F and the Dell EMC SC7020F, and a new customer loyalty program.

“Our new Future Proof Storage Loyalty program is industry-leading investment protection, which truly enables the hybrid cloud,” said Scott Millard, who recently moved over within Dell Technologies from the Virtustream channel chief role to Vice President, Global Channel Specialty Sales on Byrne’s team. “It is hands-down the most comprehensive loyalty program in the business.”

Not surprisingly, Millard highlighted the contribution of Virtustream to the program.

“A year of the Virtustream Storage Cloud, built into the product, is available for one year for free, when purchasing a Unity all flash product,” he said.

Millard also reminded partners that the short-term programs around storage which were announced in August will run through Q4.