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By | Joe Fay 6th December 2007 13:01

Dell to dealers - you win

Foundering PC giant launches channel programme

Dell has finally admitted how much it needs the channel and has launched a worldwide programme to help dealers and systems integrators to push its kit.

The vendor, which pioneered the direct PC model, appears to have stopped short of publicly offering channel players discounts, but will offer its top partners "incentive-based co-marketing funds".

The struggling PC vendor unveiled its PartnerDirect programme yesterday, saying it was available to US channel players immediately and would come to other countries in the New Year.

PartnerDirect will have two streams. Registered Partners will get "basic benefits" including logo usage, a partner website for orders, marketing materials, and "enhanced post sales support and financing options".

Certified partners will be those "who want to invest in a deeper relationship with Dell". As well as the logos and marketing what-not available to registered partners, certified partners will get demo units, field-based account management, enhanced financing options, deal registration, and support. Some time next year, the vendor promises, they will get "incentive-based co-marketing funds".

Yesterday's announcement is the final nail in the coffin of Dell's direct only model. Yet while the vendor always trumpeted its direct model, it had always flirted with the channel, much to the annoyance of systems integrators who were often caught out by its hot and cold flushes.

Over the last couple of years it has been forced to recognise that it won't be able to squeeze out much more growth unless it turns to partners, particularly in less mature markets. Customers' complains over sloppy service weren't much help either.

There was no obvious flagging up of discounts for partners yesterday. However, it would be tricky for the vendor to offer discounts to resellers while claiming that its direct customers were getting the best possible deal. So, it is, presumably, more expedient to dangle co-op marketing in front of resellers, as well as "enhanced financing" - especially in these credit crunchy times.

Yesterday's announcement made no mention of using distribution – perhaps that would be a step too far for a company that prides itself as a logistics powerhouse. Well, for now anyway. ®

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