HP Revamps Its Partner Program

In an effort to incent solution providers to sell more products in its overall portfolio, Hewlett-Packard is revamping its partner program.

The streamlining of HP's flagship partner program, called PartnerOne, was announced Wednesday and takes effect Nov. 1 in concert with the beginning of the company's new fiscal year.

While HP typically uses the occasion of its new fiscal year to update PartnerOne, the latest round reflects its most substantial changes and streamlining in four years, according to company officials.

The changes are also intended to bring dozens of acquired companies over the past several years into the PartnerOne fold. "It's an overhaul for us," said Mike Galane, senior director of HP's Enterprise Server, Storage and Networking (ESSN) Channel Marketing and Strategy for the Americas.

HP has made four key updates to PartnerOne, namely improvements to the deal registration process, an alignment of the membership structures, a streamlining of its Elite designation across key product areas and increased investments in marketing and training.

On the deal registration front, HP has standardized terms and processes. Now partners only have five deal registration options, down from 11, aimed at expediting the overall turnaround process. Also, where new deals are concerned, HP is shifting from a rebate model to upfront payments, Galane said.

"This way it's real clear in the deal," he said. "And it's a cash cycle for our partners as they close the deal, they see the benefit upfront as well as the sales reps get to see what the margin is in the deal. Sometimes that's not obvious with back-end benefits."

Romi Randhawa, CEO of HPM Networks, an HP partner based in Freemont, Calif. welcomed the changes to the deal registration process. "My reps will love it, and we don't have to chase the rebates anymore," he said, in an e-mail.

The deal registration process is also aimed at bringing together the entire HP portfolio, Galane added. "When you consider HP has to sell everything from PalmTops to NonStops, it's a real challenge for us, given the diversity of the portfolio, and a lot of those challenges were visible to our partners in the past," he said.

Bolstering PartnerOne

Another key change to the PartnerOne program involves bringing some key product areas into the program. Now part of PartnerOne is its entire combined networking business that includes the ProCurve networking product lines and the 3Com partner program. Also added into PartnerOne are HP's software business, Palm and its Halo telepresence/videoconferencing line.

"The bottom line is that as a result of all this, partners can be much more efficient in how they deal with ParterOne," Galane said. "The programs are certainly consistent across product lines, which include imaging, personal systems and our enterprise business, and there's an improved rebate structure."

New Elite Designations

HP has introduced common Elite designations across its portfolio that are aimed at consistency. The company has extended the year-old Converged Infrastructure Elite program for those partners that hold virtualization, networking, services and enterprise storage Elite designations. "These are the folks who can truly sell at the data center level, really do data center level transitions for our partners," Galane said.

HP is adding incremental rebates to partners that hold all of those designations under Converged Infrastructure. While Galane said the amounts will vary depending on the partner's business with HP, on average rebates will be around 4 to 7 percent.

Under Virtualization Elite, HP is incorporating the former Thin Client Elite designation to cover the gamut of desktop and server virtualization hardware and software.

HP has also added software and printing solutions Elite designations. The latter is aimed at helping partners transition from selling traditional printing products to offering managed print services, said Matt Smith, director of marketing for HP's Solution Provider Organization.

"The amount of managed print service activity in the market is growing very quickly," Smith said. "With that, partners have asked for a lot more training information on that side and education to get them ramped up. We will modify that to add managed print services as a major component, increase the training and doing an increase in a lot of the incentives for longer term contracts rather than point deal, and a lot of the replacement [or] upgrading of some of the aging fleets."

More MDF Coming

Lastly, HP is adding more marketing and development funds in its new fiscal year, Smith said. "There are incremental dollars that will be available to all partners but as a percentage, these smaller partners who usually address the smaller end customers will see a much bigger impact," he said. On average the increases will range from $4,000 to $10,000, he said.

"We're giving more educational opportunities and more direct marketing activities, more digital marketing and telemarketing to spend those dollars."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.