This story originally appeared in Demand Gen Report's sister publication, Channel Marketer Report.
HP is in the midst of a five-year transition— with the channel being at the heart of the process. Over the past year, the company has focused on three core pillars to increase partner engagement and success: Simplicity, profitability and predictability.
Now venturing into its third year of its five-year plan, HP has transformed its PartnerOne program and is working toward making its channel marketing initiatives competitive differentiators for the company as a whole.
Channel Marketer Report (CMR): Can you share any key takeaways or results for the HP channel in 2013? Were there any key developments and/or lessons learned from the year overall?
Gomez: Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, has talked about her five-year transition plan. For HP, 2013 was year two of the transition and focused on three areas to increase partner engagement and success:
- Simplicity: We introduced a simple partner level system (platinum, gold and silver) that delivered tiered benefits to partners. And to make it easier, we streamlined specializations aligned to that system.
- Profitability: We removed gates and caps to partner rewards. That meant partners earned money from the first sale and the sky was the limit to what they could earn. This was effective May 31, 2013.
- Predictability: Through the partner business plans and improved deal registration, HP became more predictable to partners.
Anderson: To ensure we were making the right moves, we talked to partners. They have indicated we are on the right path. A recent survey showed more than 80% of partners felt that paying from the first dollar benefitted their businesses, and that the new compensation structure increased profitability for their business, as well as the predictability of compensation.
CMR: How will HP support its partners from both a marketing and sales perspective?
Gomez: In October 2013, HP announced a completely revised PartnerOne program that is consistent across all regions and business units. The changes made help partners identify key growth areas and create new business opportunities. These include:
- Platinum specializations (including HP Software), as well as a Platinum designation for the existing Converged Infrastructure specialization.
- Gold specializations for Cloud Builder, Vertica, ServiceOne Enterprise and ServiceOne Printing and Computing.
- Silver specializations for Autonomy, Vertica and ServiceOne Enterprise.
HP is also promoting the highest partnership levels in HP end-user marketing campaigns and lists these partners by membership level on the HP Global Partner Locator.
Anderson: As we move into 2014, we are building campaigns that integrate the channel from the initial concept and design of the campaign. We are also building automated marketing solutions where partners can select a campaign and have production-ready assets in a fraction of the time that it would take for them to do it themselves, and at a fraction of the cost. In 2014, we want to make channel marketing a competitive asset for HP.
CMR: How did you go about establishing a plan for these new initiatives?
Gomez: First of all, we talk to partners to determine what works and what doesn’t. Then we look at how we can build a best-in-class solution to address the problem, we test it with a few partners, iron out the kinks and then roll it out to the regions. At any given time, we have six to 10 pilots going. These span everything from streamlined pricing to co-marketing activities. As Lynn mentioned, we also survey our partners to get a good understanding of what they need. Stay tuned for 2014 because we have some great marketing initiatives that will drive demand for partners and will help partners drive demand for their business. I’m very excited about what is coming.
CMR: Recent reports have indicated that HP will be providing solution providers with the same training and certification as the direct sales team. Can you share more details on this move?
Gomez: This is really important. It means that our partners are trained at the same time and ready when we launch the products. That means no delays, and no gaps between HP and our partners. It creates a seamless opportunity for both HP and the partners with customers. Our goal is to make a great customer experience together.
CMR: What are your other plans for the HP channel during 2014?
Anderson: In the first part of 2014, we are concentrated on a number of things:
- Improved turnaround time for deals.
- Streamlined pricing models.
- New SMB solutions with marketing campaigns to support them.
- Improving partners’ ability to drive international business.
Lead generation programs — whether they be HP led or channel led — that drive great ROI and drive business for both of us. Think of this as a single demand-generation plan that spans both HP and the channel.
In channel marketing, we have four simple priorities:
- Drive demand for HP and our partners.
- Make partner marketing a competitive weapon for HP.
- Build consistent, scalable and replicable processes and systems that deliver leads to partners.
- Help partners build better campaigns, faster and easier.
CMR: Whitman has indicated that she was turning HP back to its channel roots as part of a turnaround strategy. Why is this so important moving forward?
Gomez: It’s really simple: When HP partners are healthy, HP is healthy. Our partner community is key to our success. We are not confused about that.
We have a HP ChannelFirst policy; it’s HP’s promise to the channel. It’s about driving business through HP channel partners and making them our preferred route. It leverages the HP PartnerOne program and the capabilities of authorized HP Partners to service customers of all sizes. The only exceptions to ChannelFirst will be our global accounts, existing direct purchase contracts or where customers’ choice dictates a direct transaction.