The long ARM of HP Canada

LAS VEGAS – The 145 Canadian partner companies attending the annual HP Americas Partners Conference left here this week with new country-specific demand generation, rebate and marketing plans for 2005.

The subsidiary has never done anything this large, said Dave Frederickson, vice-president

of HP Canada’s solution partner organization, who added that the programs make it easier to for partners to do business, collaborate and grow.

Called PowerTools, the new demand and lead generation program will attempt to further HP’s efforts with the channel on co-branded messaging for the market place. In this plan solution providers will be able to leverage HP communications to help get them in front of C-level executives.

One initiative will see HP Canada send remote-controlled race cars with HP messages such as ‘server consolidation’, ‘adaptive enterprise’ and ‘balanced deployment’ on imaging/printing to customers, but with a catch. For the customer to operate the toy car they will need to contact a partner who has the remote control.

HP Canada also introduced the Assigned Rebate Model (ARM) Program. Under it resellers are assigned the rebate from a particular distributor, either Ingram Micro, Tech Data or Synnex. Currently, this program is in the pilot stage, Frederickson said.

The program will be first rolled out to PartnerOne Diamond and Platinum partners starting in April. The ARM program will also address the growing problem of the grey market. In the past distributors purchased HP products for which partners received a standard price and then they would ask for a rebate. With ARM every price will be on the specific business opportunity.

“”The partners buy at one price and they do not have to claim back the rebate so that particular customer also knows the price they are getting,”” said Heather Kent, vice-president of marketing for HP Canada.

Frank Abate, president of Mississauga, Ont.-based Infinity Technologies was chosen by HP Canada to test the ARM program. “”From a cash flow perspective, by moving it to an upfront cost is very helpful,” he said. “ARM looks after cash flow and removes the grey market option for VARs who still dabble in it.””

He added that grey market activity has dramatically decreased from a year ago. “”HP has done a good job in this respect and the ARM program just closes one more loophole.””

Frederickson said HP Canada is also trying to cut down the turnaround time for issuing rebates and eliminate some of the administration around claiming rebates. Currently, rebates are paid out every 45 days, he said.

In some cases, HP Canada will eliminate rebates, adding aggressive prices on specific SKUs to go after SMB and larger accounts. “”No sticker dicker. Here is the price and it is set up so there is no back-end rebate,”” he said.

HP Canada also wants to dramatically cut down the 45 days it takes to issue rebate cheques. The subsidiary is automating the rebate process on certain products so that partners no longer have to fill in claim forms. Partners will also be able to check rebates online. “”It is predictable so they can manage cash flow better, which is a big part of the total partner profitability message,”” said Heather Kent, vice-president of marketing for HP Canada.

Throughout the conference, which ends today, HP banged the collaboration drum. The entire conference had approximately 1,000 one-on-one meetings, Frederickson said, about 150 of which involved Canadian partners. Back home, HP Canada inside and outside sales representatives will be trained on the rules of engagement so that the company will be sure of what the channel can deliver in terms of vertical solutions with ISVs, for example.

“”Part of our job is to connect the dots and have those engagement discussions. What is the plan? How do we go to market together? What are the roles and responsibilities? It goes back to being predictable,”” Kent said.

Abate, who has attended many HP Americas Partner Conferences, has noticed the increased focus on Canadian partners at this conference. “”They (HP) know they have to aggressively co-market and co-lead with the channel for almost all customers in Canada because they do not have the headcount to deal direct with customers,”” Abate said.

The final program revolves around the Campaign Central Partner Portal. According to Kent, it will add the SMB Network program and leverage new HP global marketing initiatives. “”We want to make sure we are co-branding with partners. This will help to localize partner marketing efforts. They can take advantage of the marketing (materials) HP has created so that it is cost effective for them. We are making a big splash,”” Kent said.

With this program, partners can expect at least 30 per cent cost savings, she added.

Frederickson said that the projected ROI for these programs will be 686 to 1. “”That means for every dollar invested by a partner they could receive $686 dollars in revenue,”” he said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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