The company discussed those and other plans for the unconventional program last week at ChannelPro’s SMB Forum event in Dallas.
Launched last year, the Dell Expert Network is designed to help service providers who don’t sell hardware but regularly get hardware-related questions from customers enjoy rewards similar to those received by members of the Dell Technologies Partner Program.
Longstanding benefits include a dedicated account manager; free enrollment in Dell’s TechDirect support program; financing through Dell Financial Services, plus the ability to include MSP services in the same bill end users pay monthly for hardware; and access to extensive training and educational materials.
In addition, since the program’s birth, Expert Network members have received 3% cash back on every Dell client device purchase their customers make and a 3-6% discount on those purchases for the end users themselves. More recently, a 6% cash back reward on purchases of Dell and Dell EMC server and storage systems, which the company calls “enterprise” products, joined those earlier benefits.
“Dell traditionally has always been looked at as a client company,” observes Mobolaji Sokunbi, head of strategic partnerships for Dell’s North American small business group. “If an MSP has always come to us for client, and they never talked to us about enterprise, they get it from somebody else.” Offering financial incentives for servers and storage is designed to help the company grab a larger share of that spending.
Though scarcely over a year old, the Dell Expert Network has more than 5,000 members and ambitious recruitment targets for 2020. “Our goal is to double that number,” Sokunbi says.
To accommodate all those new members, the program is hiring additional account managers. Some 450 such people support members presently, up from nearly 400 when the Dell Expert Network launched, and Sokunbi plans to have at least 500 on the job this year.
“We’re dedicated to making sure that every MSP has one account manager they can work with, by name, with a number they can call directly,” says Sokunbi, who describes that as one of the most highly prized perks associated with joining the Expert Network.
Sokunbi and his team are calling increased attention this year to another less publicized membership benefit: access rights to Live Optics, a lightweight remote management tool that automatically collects data about performance, storage capacity, CPU utilization, and other topics from all the endpoints an MSP supports, including those from manufacturers other than Dell.
“The tool is not just dedicated to showing the overall health of Dell infrastructure,” Sokunbi notes.
Resources like that are one reason Esteban Blanco joined the Dell Expert Network shortly after its debut. Blanco, who is chief geek officer at Blanco I.T., an MSP in Arlington, Texas, was more broadly interested in having the kind of relationship with Dell normally reserved for much larger channel partners.
“I thought, and I think most of my colleagues thought, you have to be massive to be able to get Dell’s attention,” he says. “I wanted to have that connection with Dell, and instead of just Dell being the company that I bought computers from, have a partnership with Dell where Blanco I.T. has full access to all Dell resources with one phone call.”