Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Dell Helps Small Businesses

A few days ago, one of the high-muck-a-mucks over at Dell came to our office for a visit. This is the guy in charge of corporate resellers for the Eastern half of the United States. So, yeah, he's a pretty high up there guy.

Now, something about our company. We are a Dell saturation reseller. The only reseller category above ours is the big-box folks such as Wal-Mart or BestBuy.

Anyways, we had this VP come visit us, and tell us all the ways that Dell could "help" the business.

The first thing is that we cannot resell Dell products to customers unless we happen to "register" said customer with Dell, and provide them the opportunity to contact said customer.

What that translates from Corporate speak to real speak is: you're our sales team now, tells us who needs hardware, and then we'll decide if you get to go ahead with the sale, or if someone else on our sales team gets the dollars.

And of course, the whole thing went to pot from that point forward. After all, who wants to give Dell all of their sales leads? I don't. And as a consumer, I don't want a company I'm doing business with providing MY personal information to a third party.

For example, if I buy a Sony TV from Best Buy, I don't expect Best Buy to say "Hey, wait a second. We need to register you with Sony, and then you'll have to wait a few days until they get back to us on whether or not we're allowed to sell you this particular piece of hardware."

I don't expect such behavior from ANY vendor I deal with. Why on earth would Dell expect someone to willingly go along with this.

What I expect is for the company I'm dealing with, to either have said merchandise in stock, and hand it over to me, to deliver said merchandise to my home or to have it on back-order and I can take delivery of it in a few days.

At no point do I expect my vendor's vendor to a) require my information or b) be given a chance to sell to me directly.

Frankly, if either occurred, I would stop use of both vendors. In terms of my example above, I'd tell Best Buy they can forcefully insert the Sony TV into their rectums and go down the street to Circuit City and buy a Philips TV.

And repeat until I find someone willing to sell to me on MY terms.

Problem 2 with the Dell visit deals with inventory. It takes Dell an average of three days to get a new server to the Jackson Metro area. In this day of JIT order schemes, three days is just long enough to put a company out of business. So my bosses had the bright idea of keeping a server in stock.

Sure, we run the risk of having to eat the machine if it becomes out of date, but at the same time it means that we'd be able to respond immediately to one of our customers having a catastrophic failure of their server.

Well, Dell had issues with this. And they tied back to that whole registering thing. They did not like the fact that we held inventory for potential use.

The final problem that popped up in the Dell visit was apparently the vendor channel that we had been using for the past four+ years, has never existed. How's THAT for newspeak for you?

Now, to use the vendor channel there were two options. Option 1 is to become certified on a piece of hardware which my bosses do not want to push as an option for our clients. And to become certified, it means we would need to purchase said hardware--despite not needing it in our infrastructure.

Brilliant move there Dell.

Option 2 is to go through some classes to become approved to resell Dell merchandise through the vendor channel. One drawback there is that the classes aren't offered, and the Dell VP who was here had no clue WHEN they would be offered. If at all.

Yet another brilliant move.

So, where does that leave us? More or less, we're in a position where it would be detrimental to our business to sell Dell. Dell knows this, and doesn't care. Nor does Dell care that the business model they are trying to force on their resellers is inherently anti-privacy, and anti-small business.

I've long heard all the horror stories about Dell, but I've long pushed them, especially for business-class users.

Now, at this point, I'm just happy that the last laptop I bought my wife was a Gateway.

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