The global computing giant leverages massive infrastructure, simplicity, and marketing funds to attract SMB resells.
Few technology vendors (OK, less than a dozen) have a portfolio that can truly span the needs of most end users with fewer than 500 employees. HP is clearly one of those companies. And given its orientation to doing business through indirect channels, HP has always been a leader in consumer and small business with its printers, multifunction devices, laptops, and low-end servers. But, the global computing giant seems to have awakened in the last two to three years relative to the resources it applies to being the clear winner in the SMB market, a market share opportunity it sizes at $46 billion in the U.S. alone.
Maybe it’s because the economy has been bad and its legacy enterprise customers have stalled spending. Maybe it’s because Cisco has gotten uniquely focused on this market, especially the less-than-100-employee small business segment of SMB. Or, maybe it’s just because the company continually finds ways to reinvent itself (no pun intended) and refocus to capitalize on market inflections. In any scenario, as it prepares for its Partner Summit event later this month, HP has come out with both guns blazin’ in its focus on the SMB segment, with a combination of collaborative communication, transaction automation, and incentives to fire up the engines of its SMB-focused channel partners.
The two most significant announcements we see today focus are the simplification of the company’s quoting and ordering tool for SMB VARs and the incremental marketing funds it plans to award to partners to do SMB-focused campaigns, whether they have met sales volumes or not.
As part of its newly announced SMB Central partner portal, the company has combined sales, technical, and marketing resources tailored to the SMB market in an unprecedented way (for both HP and many manufacturers of its size and product breadth). One of the key features here is the aggregation of all HP’s SMB-focused product promotions, incentives, sales tools, and marketing messages in one centralized portal—no small feat for this behemoth.
The coolest feature here that should rock the world of most legacy HP channel partners is a streamlined order quoting and ordering tool that links in with all the HP authorized distributors’ procurement engines. The promise here is highly simplified and centralized information on available partner incentives or qualifying products and services, streamlining the quoting and order process for channel partners and simplifying administration for HP distributors.
The second announcements is the advancement of $1,500 per quarter, dubbed “marketing subsidy funds,” to SMB-focused partners for demand-generation programs focused uniquely on this market. Partners will still earn marketing funds aligned to their level in the PartnerOne program; however, these funds will ensure that the well doesn’t ever run completely dry as partners build their volume and success in this market.
HP is refocused as part of this announcement on creating what it calls “HP Franchise” partners, or solution providers that commit to exclusively supporting HP’s technology in these product segments. Here, they tout that their top 20 “HP Franchise” partners are currently experiencing 50 percent-plus growth year over year, where the overall HP partner community is on average only experiencing 20 percent year-over-year growth.
In today’s highly competitive market, creating this level of loyalty is a bold channel goal, given the extent of competition at every product category level HP experiences. But, we applaud the company’s determination, focus and, most important, its investment in hard-hitting sales, marketing, and automation tools that should have a quantifiable impact on its SMB partners.
BETH VANNI is vice president of market intelligence at Amazon Consulting. Reach her at email@example.com.