HP's imaging and printing group (IPG) is breaking down the barriers between its indirect and direct sales teams in an attempt to create closer ties to its channel.
Vice-president and general manager of IPG South Pacific, Christoph Schell, said it had removed penalties which saw direct sales representatives lose commission for passing on sales to the channel. HP will now pay both the partner and its sales rep for the new opportunity.
It has also combined the two sales teams. The decision follows on from the successful implementation of HP's IPG rules of engagement 18 months ago, he said.
"Three years ago, we decided to go direct to the enterprise segment of the market as we weren't getting good traction with partners. Now we have set defined rules of engagement around when we go direct and when we go indirect," Schell said. "We've had good success with that.
"As of November we have removed a big hurdle by combining our two sales forces. This means every account manager can make a decision on whether a sale should go indirect or direct. This is positive news for our partners as they will be aligned with our sales managers. It should give them increased go-to-market opportunities."
HP's combined IPG sales force consists of 35 staff. The change also brings IPG more in line with the vendor's other product categories, Schell said.
"We had situations where IPG was going direct, but the PCs were going indirect. What we're trying to do is harmonise across our different categories," he said. "The PC team is slightly different in that we would go direct for customers with more than 1000 seats instead of 500, but otherwise the strategies are similar."
IPG's rules of engagement are based around named direct accounts reviewed every six months. Typically, customers with more than 500 seats who had not dealt with an HP partner over the past six months will be sold to directly.
Schell flagged the possibility of opening more enterprise accounts to channel partners in the future.
"When we launched the Edgeline range we took a different approach and appointed just three Australian partners. We also had the option to go direct. But the value-added services partners brought in from a change management, consolidation and services point of view were so immense that we've ended up with 90 per cent of that business now going indirect today," he said.
"In the volume space, it's more difficult for a channel partner to differentiate themselves, but with more of our services-led products, the role a partner plays is so important."