Dell emphasizes tight partner alignment as key to defying gravity

At its Canadian partner summit, Dell Technologies highlighted the development of a strong sales and account relationship between Dell and Canadian partners, which led to a very high 78 NPS score of Dell from those partners.

From L to R: Paul Katigbak, Pam Pelletier, Mike Sharun and Andre Valiquette

TORONTO – Collaborate with Dell around as much of the Dell Technologies portfolio as possible and as early in the sales cycle as possible. That was some of the core messaging Dell Technologies presented to partners on Tuesday at the annual Dell Canada Partner Summit here. This need for better alignment will drive increased business, and realize the event’s theme this year of defying gravity.

This ‘better together’ messaging came in the context of what has clearly been a good year for the Canadian partner community. Andre Valiquette, Dell Canada’s channel chief, shared some data with the audience of recent channel momentum both globally and in Canada specifically.

“At the Global Partner Summit [kicking off Dell Technologies World at the end of April], we set some modest global goals around revenue growth for the channel – 13% storage, 8% server 7% client,” Valiquette said. “We have crushed these goals in the first half and Canada positively contributed to every one of these categories.”

Valiquette presented a graph of Canadian deal registrations over the last six quarters, showing a strong rise in the last three into what had been uncharted waters. The data is historical by Dell’s fiscal year, not calendar year projections.

“Canada alone has added over 8000 net-new NBI [New Business Incentive] submissions,” Valiquette added. “Competitive swap remains an area of opportunity, however. There’s still dollars on the table for all of you by going after that.”

The most remarkable data points in the presentation were Dell Partner NPS [Net Promoter Scores] – Dell partners’ views of the company. NPS scores in the B2B IT world are traditionally low, and historically Dell’s relationship with partners has been rocky at times. But the partner NPS scores were very good. Valiquette indicated that in the second half of FY 2019, Dell partners in North America gave the company a 53 NPS score. In the 1st half of FY 2020, the NPS score was up to 56.

“100% of that increase came from Canada,” Valiquette emphasized. “In the first half of 2020, we had an NPS score of 78 in Canada.” That was the seventh highest score in all the geos in which Dell Technologies operates.

“We are going after number one,” he declared, even as he acknowledged that these scores can be fleeting.

Valiquette indicated that positive factors contributing to the score were the product and solution range and the training behind them, as well as the sales and account relationship between Dell and Canadian partners.

“We see the sales account relationship is an important part of what’s working,” Valiquette told the partners. “We made some tweaks in field coverage from a channel perspective.”

The ‘areas for opportunity’ where more work is needed were the shipping, tracking and delivery of orders, and converged and infrastructure awareness, with the need for more customer-facing materials being an issue relating to the latter.

Valiquette then hosted a series of panel discussions with regional Dell Canada executives in a deliberately cheesy talk show format. The goal was quite serious, however, to raise awareness among the partner community of Dell Canada’s regional leaders. Those leaders also stressed the importance of continuing to improve alignment between Dell Technologies and its partners.

“We really need to lean better into alignment – the ‘better together’ story here referring to Dell Technologies and our partners,” said  Denis Hofmann, SVP Central East Canada at Dell. Hofmann, who has spent 20 years at Dell, indicated that in the past, partners had been critical about how we execute against Michael [Dell]’s vision and how we go to market.

“I wish we had started developing that trust and momentum even earlier,” he said.

“The real opportunity is when partners take their special value add,” said Michael Kurek, SVP Sales and Operations, Dell Technologies Canada. “They can sell a storage platform or a compute platform and move on, but the real value is taking customers on a journey around a multiple product solution. It’s likely to be 5x the margin and much stickier.”

“Customers are struggling and really looking for help,” said Linda Lewis, VP Western Canada, Enterprise Division, Dell Technologies. “They are looking for trust from partners – and knowledge. What’s important for partners is not knowing our products inside out, but having the knowledge to help customers as well as flexibility and creativity. When we work together, the customer always wins.”

Valiquette then hosted a panel of three senior Canadian leaders, Mike Sharun, the President of the Enterprise business, Paul Katigbak, the President of Commercial, and Pam Pelletier, VP of Medium Business.

“Partner early and partner often,” Katigbak counselled the audience. “Things work best when we get together and drive the strategy early, with full trust, disclosure, and transparency. When we have that, we have scale. If you partner with us only at the time when you have a good chance to win a deal, that’s a losing proposition.”

Sharun also stressed the importance of partners working closely with Dell.

“What’s Dell looking for in a partner? Alignment. When you don’t have alignment in goals, that’s when you have friction. Partners want to be trusted advisors and have a really strong relationship with the customer. That’s what we want as well. I want also scale from my partners. I want partners to carry the whole Dell Technologies message, not just Dell, or VMware or Pivotal.”

Pelletier stressed that effective collaboration requires communication, engaging early and often, and leveraging the programs available to partners.

“We are about to win the largest opportunity ever for the Medium Business segment in North America,” she said. “It happened because we got together with  the partner team on a daily basis and established a great cadence. If we can replicate that and take it forward, we will be in a great position.

“We cannot be successful without the channel,” Pelletier added. “My top five deals last year were all with the channel.”

That distilled nicely the messaging from the event from Dell to its partners.

“We want to motivate and inspire you to feel that you are in the right room, and that you are defying gravity with Dell Technologies,” Valiquette stated.