Hewlett-Packard's Computer Products Organisation intends to get to know its channel better with the launch of the Accredited Workgroup Reseller program.
Marketing manager for the computer products organisation, Kim Hamilton, said HP is looking to bring around 60 resellers into the program, which will provide resellers with additional marketing resources and support.
Hamilton said HP is recruiting partners selling into the market of companies with 20 to 999 employees, a business sector he estimates will grow in value from $US8 billion in 1996 to $US62 billion in 2000. He said the new initiative is designed to take advantage of sales at the workgroup level, where HP is placed to provide all the products relevant to this market.
"What we're going to provide from HP is direct support," said Hamilton. "We're going to allow them to have a dedicated access line to HP for both technical and sales and configuration." Resellers will also receive account management services, demo equipment, advertising assistance and will be given sales leads.
While HP will now talk directly with these resellers, its three wholesalers will still play a key role.
As for how the new program will be funded, Hamilton said HP has gone through a dramatic redesign of its infrastructure. "As this program comes on stream we'll be adding resources, but what we've done initially is reallocated people within the organisation."
Hamilton says the program was partially driven by the results of its own reseller surveys, which found that vendor support and communication were two of the top five concerns.
He added that resellers will have to hold up their end of the bargain, by meeting various sales requirements. "They have to be able to achieve sales in both the peripherals business as well as PCs and infrastructure, like Net servers, LAN products and such," said Hamilton. "We are not really interested in people who just want to sell peripherals, but we're expecting that their sales of peripherals will increase dramatically."
Hamilton said resellers also have to attend an external accreditation course to ensure they are sufficiently skilled in all relevant areas. "This requires some skills that not everybody's going to be able to qualify for. And we want to get 80 per cent of the business out of 20 per cent of the people, because you can't support everybody to this extent - this is quite a costly exercise."