Dell’s channel boss has uphill battle

The results of CDN’s poll question: Would you listen to Dell’s channel pitch? have come in and 60 per cent of the respondents said they would.

This is the good news for Frank Fuser, Dell Canada’s first ever channel chief. The bad news is that he will be viewed by the channel as an insider.

Dell Canada needs channel partners in a big way. It only has 2,000, which make up a little over 10 per cent of its revenue. Dell has publicly made a commitment to the channel. They have developed a channel program for this effort and quite frankly have lost ground to HP and Acer. Both of those firms have locked up many great solution providers in Canada.

This will be an uphill battle for Fuser as the channel already distrusts the vendor. He has this job now, and what he should do is hire an experienced channel executive as a consultant.

There are plenty of qualified channel executives available. Here are four top-flight channel executives Fuser could talk to:

Chris Devlin ran CA’s channel in Canada and in EMEA.

Jim Mandala built Samsung’s printer channel in Canada. He was also Epson Canada and Handspring Canada GM.

I have recently learned that Pat Kewin, formerly of Trend Micro Canada, has been freed up.

And if Dell Canada wants to open up the vault and pry someone away from another company there would be nobody better than Steve Simmons of Unis Lumin. Simmons brought the highly successful partner profitability programs to Cisco Canada.

Dell, in my opinion, could never hire these executives. It’s not in its culture. They are more comfortable with Fuser, who knows and understands the company and can attempt to build consensus from within.

Fuser must also learn to be a more of a channel advocate. This will not be an overnight thing because of the strong direct culture at Dell.

Fuser admitted to me that changes need to be made inside Dell. The company has already revamped its sales compensation structure so that channel sales are treated equally as direct sales. That’s a good start.

But they say perception is reality. And the reality is Fuser will be perceived as a Dell insider.

To his credit, he told me he plans on building a partner network for Dell one solution provider at a time. Fuser has the autonomy to make changes and will consider back-end rebates in the near future, he said.

Fuser will come to learn that for any channel plan to really work it will need tweaks and it will need channel buy in. But instead of working with channel partners, Fuser will be trying to prove to them that he is really on their side. And that will be a hard sell.

I wish Fuser luck. It may not seem like it, but I really do. There is nothing more I would like to see than the channel succeed with Dell. It would prove to the long time direct vendor that the channel model in Canada works better.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 12/02/08, 10:17 AM,

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