Doing Dell PartnerDirect? Dude!

September 5, 2008 – 9:18 am

So we recently signed our Dell PartnerDirect agreement and thanks to the confidentiality restrictions in the agreement I can’t tell you anything about it.  Why did I, such a strong advocate against Dell’s effect on the MSP channel, sign the agreement?  Because my customers demand choices.  Am I losing money or control over my customers?  Heck no, the customer’s trust is still in us to help them make the right choice and right now you just can’t beat the system/warranty prices for their entry level servers.  Seriously.  A screaming 2900 for under $4K with next business day hardware replacement.  Good price for my customer and my liability is limited with Dell’s proven support agreements.  

So am I drinking Dell kool-aid and believing they are the all encompassing solution?  Not even close.  While I may be limiting my relationship to just reselling hardware for them, I’m not limiting my relationship to my customers by acting like a traditional VAR.  It really comes down to building and maintaining a relationship with my customer that delivers more in value than what we charge in fees.  And trust me, we aren’t the cheapest.  I like what what one Dell reseller told CRN in this CRN Australia article:

Dell still can’t comprehend that a customer is willing to pay a little more for products in exchange for the value a solution provider can add.
“It’s like someone talking about the Grand Canyon when they’ve never really been there. It’s hard to bring it to life,” he said.

While vendor relationships should look like partnerships, the challenge is, that amongst all the cheering from the vendor coaches and channel partner managers in the reseller game, keep your eye on the ball.  That ball is your customer. 

For more on maintaining a “trusted advisor” role check our Harry’s August/September 2008 SMB Partner Community Magazine (online version released today) where on Page 10 Grant Thompson, partner at MG Technology Group notes:

At MG Technology Group we ask a lot of questions and spend most of our time listening. We spend time with prospective clients up front learning what they do. Most important we ask, ”Why?” It’s amazing what the responses are to questions like, “What are you going to do with this report you’re asking for?” Client’s don’t often know what their real problem is to begin with. By helping to uncover them we can truly craft a solution that meets their needs, often better than what they had in mind at the outset.

It’s not hard folks.  The most valuable and profitable asset you have in your company is probably not a technology, a vendor relationship, a solution, your customer contracts or even your employees.  It is probably you and the reputation you have with your customer.  This is a very very small community and being a Go-Giver and a person of integrity goes a long long way in keeping doors open, customers happy and more importantly, getting good night’s sleep.  Think about it.

  1. 3 Responses to “Doing Dell PartnerDirect? Dude!”

  2. We’ve been Dell resellers for years, and we’ve seen tremendous benefits for ourselves.

    Most people probably wouldn’t believe me, but we’ve been able to avoid arguing over pennies with our customers because they trust us to deliver their brand new Dell the way they want it the first time.

    Sure, Dell is going to undercut you on price, but their sales force will work with you to make your sales profitable. And you can’t beat the warranty.

    By William Rogers on Sep 5, 2008

  3. Mark,

    Nice article! I know you’re not the biggest Dell fan, especially when it comes to our push in the Channel market, but I’ve got to take my hat off to you for the way you run your business. I’m sure you’re aware that there are more than a handful of VARs and MSPs out there that don’t have a lot of trust or faith in Dell right now, mostly due to our direct sales history, but the ones that have given us a chance know that we’re more than dedicated to helping them succeed.

    Putting your customer’s choices above personal opinions is part of what Greg Davis meant when he said we’re looking to build relationships with the right partners. As an MSP who prides himself on delivering value in your offerings (not just low cost hardware) and delivering choice to your customers, you’re exactly the type of partner Greg was talking about.

    I know right now it was your commitment to your customer’s choices and needs that brought you to partner with Dell, but we’ll look forward to building that relationship into whatever you might need. With time and opportunity we’ll hopefully one day prove to you that we’re here to help you, just as your there to help your customers.

    Again, great article, and many thanks for giving us a shot.

    Michael Bukowski
    Dell Channel Liaison

    By Mike on Sep 5, 2008

  4. Hi Mark

    You know me, DELL is our biggest vendor outside of Microsoft. In Canada, they have stepped up big time to help us with our latest marketing campaign. DELL will be helping us with a new server, backup, 5 Vostro workstations and networking gear.

    So there are opportunities as a DELL partner just like all the other vendors out there. Actually when you put them side by side, I think you will see that they all have the same strengths and many of the same weaknesses.

    Your customers have a choice, to purchase DELL direct, which they will because their buddies at the gym run DELL or to purchase DELL thru you the partner.

    It is just like hosted services like BPOS or OLSB, they will go for it with or without you.

    The question is…how do we or you make money when the customer knows or has a slight idea of what they want.


    Stuart Crawford
    Calgary, AB

    By Stuart Crawford on Sep 7, 2008

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