Signalling Hewlett-Packard could go down the same track as Compaq with direct sales to large customers, CEO Lew Platt told delegates at the Gartner Group's ITxpo '98 in the US that it would bolster its direct sales force.
Responding to criticism from a Gartner analyst, who argued that some large customers found HP's service to be inferior to rivals IBM or Sun, Platt admitted he had heard such complaints. His response was that part of the problem was that HP sold so many products through the channel.
So HP would boost its direct sales force, Platt said, converting a couple of hundred management employees to direct sales, "which will certainly make a difference".
Locally, John Bieske, HP's executive director computer products sales and distribution, said he thought it more likely that HP would hire more account managers to deal directly with the customer and "team sell", but that it was unlikely that sales would not be fulfilled through the channel. Norry McAllister, general manager for the computer sales operation, added that "it has not been communicated to me that we would alter our strategy". However, he did say that if HP altered its global strategy, "obviously that could change".