Dell buys SonicWall: Partners Not Thrilled
Dell, through it’s numerous missteps in the SMB and MSP space, has earned a pretty ugly reputation with IT Solution Providers. Yesterday Dell announced the purchase of SonicWall and instantly angered partners who have working with one of the most beloved channel companies. It prompted me to ask, What has Dell done to deserve such hate?
Yes, in the channel Michael Dell is often portrayed as the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz, hell-bent on domination of the tristate area yet always foiled in the execution. Why are so many partners angry? I recently wrote on my personal blog about how IT solution providers often expect their vendors to behave much differently than they behave themselves. Seemingly Dell is doing what all the “channel experts” are telling their partners to do: market aggressively, make sure you sell everything connected to technology even if it’s digital signs and networked coffee makers, or someone will push you out of that account. Dell is implementing this very same strategy by expanding their portfolio so what is the real problem?
In short: Dell is getting better at directly competing with the channel.
What is becoming clear to many is that the hardware game may be coming to an end for solution providers. The only company making significant margin on top of the hardware business is Apple and they don’t make much room for anyone in their channel.
Where channel partners as a whole have a problem is that the suppliers are becoming competitors and the devices and brands that are out there are suddenly property of your competitor. Consider the following comments on Facebook regarding Dell’s acquisition, these are the answers to my question about why Dell is not getting any love:
Amy Babinchak: Dell has invested in becoming competition, an MSP of thier own. I dropped them almost three years ago now for this reason. I looked at the downhill slide of their service to me and their purchasing pattern and read the writing on the wall. 10 years in their solution partner program and we moved.
Angela: When I cannot resolve a problem because the person on the other end sounds like they work for Zenith, I’m done. It’s not to do with the accent but the lack of customer service that they both seem to have mastered. I’ve been ‘in the channel’ for 10 years and have learned that I can always find folks that actually care about my business (accent or not)
Eddie: I have seen Dell hut to a customer only ONCE. However, we do not give Dell the end-user information and we do not register deals. If/when Dell asks for the end-user info we give them the end-user company name, but our address, our email and our phone number. I have seen it only ONCE where Dell sent a client a catalog – it was to our address. This single event was early in my company’s relationship with Dell (2008 for a purchase made in 2003), and I have not seen it since. Maybe we’re just too small for Dell to go after. I dunno.
But even if they did, WE are the trusted advisor – the client will not cut us out because they need us (still). If a client does price something directly from Dell, which happened a couple of times last year, I always match it and still make a profit on it. I have even had a client or two shop at Dell, send me the shopping cart, which i forwarded to my Dell rep for pricing, which was less than the shopping cart price, so I still made $ on it.
Randy: Dell doesn’t have much of a channel presence, unless you buy direct. Their distribution agreements are a joke, selling only previous model overstock with about 3% margins. I’ve been selling HP for 5 years now, and have never had to worry about them propositioning my clients directly. I hate Dell, but I love SonicWall, so now I have another decision to make!
Russ: Well Dell Can’t underbid me anyway because I don’t buy their $500 1 TB Drives.. I always buy drives some place other than Dell Besides Dell Drives only have a 1 year warranty, I can get 3-5 year warranty from the Manufacture for 1/2 the cost of Dell’s the problem I don’t like Dell is after they moved their Manufacturing to Mexico, The Server delays SUCK (Remember when a server came in 1 week, now it’s delay delay delay)
I mean really have you talked with Dell Support? I had someone talk with a new client for 3 hrs trying to get their wifi fixed on their laptop Dell said sorry it’s a software issue. They called me I had it fixed in 15mins So… I’m not worried about them taking over my support.
Joe: Ok, so hypothetically speaking say that Dell is welcomed with open arms to the channel and everyone in this market space embraced and started making all of their server and PC purchases through Dell, then started using their RMM, and then their free ticketing system. Sounds good huh… Until it affects your business model. Lets say Dell starts offering spam filtering, hosted exchange, and share-point with zero downtime and all for 2 dollar per mailbox per month with 10 year archive 30gb mailbox storage. How would that affect your business? And do you think Dell would be able to provide a quality product at that low rate? Probably not but they will market it more than you ever could and make the sale. You will be the “consultant” people call to actually make their stuff work when before them you just made stuff work.
Ben: I haven’t had a big problem with them, except a few weeks ago i called to order 10k in equipment, it took 2 days to get our rep to reach back to us. I missed the call, called him back 20 mins later, and emailed him the specs, now 5 days later and i don’t even have a quote … kind of annoying … usually i would build right on their site but i need a couple of custom licensing things handled that aren’t in the ‘wizard’ but a rep can get us in about 5 minutes.
Not to be outdone, Alex Rogers of CharTec has made sure to hop onto this opportunity to promote the CharTec UTM device. But what is there to say that CharTec, which is part of ConnectWise, won’t end up being sold to Dell or HP or another company that does not live up to the expectations of the resellers who suddenly find themselves competing with their suppliers?
One thing is clear: You can no longer ride your suppliers brand name in order to gain credibility because you’re assuming the risk of being displaced from your accounts by that vendor. So the question now is: build your own brand or carve out a niche of services and protect them.