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Dell Tries To Thaw Channel Ice

Well, here he is again, that smooth-talker wearing an ascot and a smoking jacket and carrying two champagne flutes. He wants to make up. Really, he does. He wants the channel to know that it's real this time -- that he won't go behind your back with that direct-sales model again. He just wants you to listen. He says that he needs you now more than ever.

Dell has a channel program -- a real one, with logos and levels and everything. Oh, it's not a surprise or anything; partners have been raking in money for the direct-sales giant for a while now. But Dell, which has treated the channel like a jilted girlfriend in the past, wants to get serious about working with partners now because it has to. So the company is reaching out to partners, hoping to woo them, promising them that Dell's commitment to them is real.

And it probably is. After all, anybody who follows the technology industry knows that Dell has struggled financially in recent years and that founder Michael Dell is back in the company's driver's seat. Furthermore, it's Dell himself who has his executives turning on the Texas charm to try to lure partners to work with a company that was once considered Public Enemy No. 1 in the channel.

Dell's channel program is pretty comprehensive, as Scott Bekker reports in his story for RCP (which is pretty darn comprehensive, too.) The question doesn't seem to be so much whether Dell is serious about recruiting partners, but rather whether partners will trust the company -- which for so long flaunted its direct-sales model -- enough to work with it. Given the potential profits involved, they probably will.

But it'll take a while for Dell to build relationships in the channel, and it'll be interesting to track the new partner program's success. After all, old wounds don't just heal overnight.

Will you allow Dell to romance you into its partner program? Tell me at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 06, 2007 at 11:54 AM


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