Dell EMC stresses consistency in Partner Program changes – although there are many changes

The guiding philosophy of the program remains fixated on the simple, predictable and profitable principles, but quite a few tweaks have been made to the program, many of them significant, and most of which are likely to please partners rather than make them grumble.

Joyce Mullen, President, Global Channel, OEM and IOT Solutions at Dell EMC

On Wednesday, Dell EMC kicked off their regular announcement of changes to the Partner Program they make every year. While the company strongly affirmed a message of consistency rather than change, some rather significant changes include simplifying revenue qualifications by removing the requirements to sell multiple lines of business, reducing the amount of training needed to become a Gold Partner, and both expanding Partner of Record status and making its meaning clearer to Dell’s own sales teams.

“We are kicking off what’s going to be our very best year yet,” said Joyce Mullen, President, Global Channel, OEM and IOT Solutions at Dell EMC, kicking off the webcast to channel partners to introduce changes in the Dell EMC Partner Program being announced at the start of the fiscal year, when the more significant changes are traditionally rolled out. “We are raising the bar on what it means to be simple, predictable and profitable – with your  guidance.”

Over the last 12 months, Mullen indicated that the company’s channel business had gone from $43 billion to $49 billion, just shy of the short-term objective of $50 billion. She cited momentum on several fronts, noting that order revenue was up 21 per cent, distribution order revenue was up 19 per cent, server revenue was up 38 per cent, client revenue was up 13 per cent, and storage revenue increased by 12 per cent. During the year, over 15,000 new or reactivated customers were recorded. Enterprise sales grew by over 25 per cent in the first three quarters of the 2019 fiscal year.

This year, Mullen said that there are no earth-shattering alterations to the program.

“There are no major changes, just improvements and refinements,” she stated. Some of them are fairly significant, however. They start by removing the requirement which had been added earlier requiring solution provider partners to sell multiple parts of the Dell EMC portfolio. Darren Sullivan, SVP of Global Partner Strategy and Business Operations, said that this was because many partners had already built this into their businesses anyway.

“We have simplified revenue qualifications down to a single path, removing requirements to sell multiple lines of business,” he said. “It makes it simpler.”

Also making things simpler – and easier – for solution providers in Zone 1 is a reduction in the number of individuals sales people and sales engineers required to achieve training to meet tier status to 3-2-1, three for Titanium, two for Platinum, and One for Gold.

“Moving from Authorized to Gold is now 1 and 1 – one salesperson and one sales engineer,” Sullivan said. “It has been halved. That will allow more partners to qualify for Gold status.”

This year, VMware revenue  that is booked through Dell EMC will now count towards Tier requirements.

“This year, services  delivery competencies will now count towards program tier requirements,” Sullivan added. “New competencies in training will continue to be launched during the year, beginning with a new Data Analytics Solutions competency.”

While some less popular changes from the recent past are gone, one popular one will remain for this year.

“We are extending the tier credit multiplier for the whole year,” Sullivan said. That means that storage and data protection again count 3x, and HCI  and CI, which have been growing at massive rates, will count 1.5x.

As far as the program’s core element goes – making money – the current rebate structure continues.

“The new business incentive rebate through will not require a claiming process in any region however,” Sullivan said. “It will be automatically tracked and credited.”

Some partners had been concerned that Dell EMC’s generous storage rebates, brought in when the company’s storage business was struggling, would disappear now that it is looking upwards. They won’t disappear this year however. The 2 per cent midrange Storage Tech Refresh and 8 per cent Competitive Swap rebates have been extended.

Changes likely to be popular have also been made to the way Partner Academy training courses are tracked. If Dell EMC makes no changes to a course that a learner has completed, the course will automatically be recognized as completed. This will save individuals time completing training

On the Go-to-Market side, Partner of Record status is being extended to previous Line-of-Business accounts.

“We want you to be more aggressive,” said Marius Haas, Dell’s President and Chief Commercial Officer. “Partners who engage in strategic account planning with our core sales teams have 19 per cent higher sales growth. So we are making these refinements in Go-to-Market approach.”

“We are expanding Partner of Record protection based on your feedback,” Mullen said. “Before, our sales teams just had to work with a partner. With this extension, being a Partner of Record means our sales teams will work with you on anything new in that account.”

Significant changes have also been made to how MDF is handled.

“With MDF, it is an evolution, and not a revolution,” said Cheryl Cook, Dell EMC’s SVP of Global Channel Marketing. “To drive consistency, we have realigned the financial process, continuing to simplify things by aligning MDF to the same product categories as rebates. This year, there is one payment entity, with aligned MDF and rebate categories, for simplified proof of execution.” Other changes Cook introduced involve simplified POE requirements for training, demo equipment and telesales, an increase in product giveaways to $USD 750, a multicurrency entertainment form, and what Dell EMC says will be an improved MDF tool experience.

Hints were also dropped off other changes for later in the fiscal year. These include an official badging program, and the integration of configuration, pricing and quoting tools, which has already started and should become manifest in the second half of the year.