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Dell goes on EMEA channel deoffensive

Promises pricing harmony

Dell is to offer its nascent EMEA channel a pricing structure that it claims won’t pit partners and its internal sales team against one another.

The company’s PartnerDirect programme kicked off Stateside in December last year, and now it's being launched in Europe, the Middle East and Africa too.

In a teleconference yesterday, Josh Claman Dell EMEA channel veep, said that the computer giant was taking “realistic” steps into a "tough environment" that the firm has historically shunned in favour of selling direct to end-users.

He said that Dell will offer parity pricing based on realistic street prices across its direct sales team, retailers and partners. The pricing structure, he explained, will let channel players sell kit at the same price as Dell, and still generate a reasonable margin.

"We think we’ve done it in a way with enough governance and authorisation that we should not have one channel sector systemically undercutting another," said Claman.

But he was shy about offering up any details on how the system would work. At the US launch of PartnerDirect, the company fought shy of flagging up traditional "discounts" for dealers, focusing on co-op marketing and financing options.

Yesterday, Claman claimed that dealers would be tempted to work with Dell because it would be "offering credit directly to partners rather than outsourcing their credit facility to distributors".

He said that Dell will take a three-pronged salesforce approach, using external sales people, channel account manangers and technical sales reps. The third team will specifically focus on storage and servers.

In recent months the firm has snapped up a number of storage firms such as EqualLogic.

Asked if Dell had been forced to embrace the channel because some of its portfolio was now too complicated to sell direct, Claman conceded that "notebooks are much easier to sell than storage".

He also said that Dell had "historically under-estimated the server business within the channel – but the past is moot and the timing is right to go after that market".

Prior to this launch, Dell had already inked huge retail deals across Europe with the likes of Tesco, DSGi and Carrefour. Now, it’s seemingly gunning for the little people too.

But Rob Lucas at UK reseller RLS Computers, which mostly sells Fujitsu Siemens hardware, reckoned that Dell has got its formula wrong over pricing.

He told The Register that the new partner programme, was unrealistic because competition is the lifeblood of the channel.

"Dell can recommend all they like but they can't dictate to the people on the front line," he added. ®

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