HP Exec Promises to Continue Improving Channel Relations
In an interview with ITChannelPlanet.com, Tom LaRocca, HP vice president of strategy and marketing, solution partners organization, Americas, outlines key channel objectives for 2009 and pledges to continue working more closely with HP's channel partners.
HP channel executive Tom LaRocca recently chatted with ITChannelPlanet.com about the state of channel relations and the outlook for the channel next year. Excerpts from that interview follow:
Q: What is the major challenge channel partners face and how is HP helping them meet it?
LaRocca: The primary concern of our partners is how to grow their businesses year over year. We tackle this in a couple of ways. We help them to increase their core competencies by building out their solution stack, such as selling blades and storage solutions together. In addition, we provide training and certification so they can sell more of our portfolio.
Q: Define the company's overall channel strategy. Is the current economic slowdown impacting that strategy?
LaRocca: Our strategy is to continue to improve our business relations with our channel partners so we can all continue to grow our businesses. Recently, we introduced changes to our PartnerONE program to provide partners with greater simplicity, predictability and consistency in their interactions with HP.
I cannot comment on how the economic slowdown is or is not impacting our business as we are in the quiet period before we announce our quarterly results.
Q: How is your channel strategy differentiated from your competitors?
LaRocca: Our message is a simple one: No other vendor can take care of resellers like we do because we offer a complete portfolio of solutions across 19 different product areas.
Q: Do VARs believe that HPs recent enhancements to its channel program are comprehensive enough? What is their feedback to date?
LaRocca: VARs have responded favorably. Of course, they are always looking for us to improve on our execution, to increase our turnaround time on deal registration, and to make our partner portal easier to use.
Q: How is HP leveraging its channel partners to gain market share on competitors such as Acer and Dell?
LaRocca: One of the key ways we leverage our partners is to work with them on selling into key growth markets such as point-of-sale and blades. To work closer with partners, we recently launched ExeConnect, a program to regularly connect channel partners and their customers with senior HP executives, including CEO Mark Hurd.
Q: What additional incentives or programs do you believe your channel partners seek?
LaRocca: Our partners want us to continue refining our partner program to make it easier for them to do business with us and to grow their revenue. At the same time, they realize they can generate enhanced revenue based on their investment in HP.
Q: Blueroads recently published a survey involving 1,000 channel chiefs that found vendors need to make fundamental changes in their channel programs and change the focus to sales effectiveness from channel efficiency. Do you agree with this criticism? What is HP doing to help its partners grow their sales and revenue?
LaRocca: I agree. The changes we have made to our channel program address the central issue of improving sales effectiveness.
Q: What are your top three priorities for next year?
LaRocca: I want to create more growth opportunities for channel partners; to extend certification opportunities to more partners; and to further streamline our interactions with partners.