Dell's New Channel Chief: Get Ready For Change


Cheryl Cook
Cheryl Cook

Dell's new channel chief Cheryl Cook says she's ready to hit the ground running, and over the next few months she will be listening to partners, ready to hear what their pain points are and what's working.

In her first interview as Dell's vice president of global channels and alliances, she told CRN that in the months ahead, she'll use that feedback to make changes that reflect the new Dell and benefit its 143,000 partners.

"I'm 48 hours into the role, and I couldn't be more enthusiastic. I'm a big believer in partners and channel and what they can do for our overall product portfolio and growth aspirations," Cook said.

[Related: Dell's New US Management Team: Who Are These Guys?]

Change is Dell's new unofficial motto. Just weeks after completing its $24.9 billion private equity buyout, Dell Monday disclosed a shakeup of its executive team as well as fundamental changes in the way Dell handles its direct and channel sales.

Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages, a Kittery, Maine-based national cloud integrator, said change at Dell is a prerequisite for growth. "Change is good right now. It's pervasive in the IT industry. Change is required. I'd be more concerned if Dell wasn't making changes," he said.

Cook, who previously served as Dell's vice president of enterprise solutions, says she is now charged with the task of honing Dell's channel strategy, breaking down silos between direct and indirect sales and making the channel more nimble and dynamic.

"My full-time job is to ensure we are creating attractive opportunities for the channel so our partners can grow with us like they have been," Cook says. She pledged her channel commitment adding, "I'm incented and measured by Dell's channel success, partner satisfaction and ensuring growth."

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based Dell partner, No. 266 on the SP500, said he sees the management shakeup making Dell a more channel-committed company.

"This really shows the dedication to the channel in my mind," said Venero. "This is going to make Dell much easier to do business with for partners. It means a tighter line between the channel and Dell direct account executives. That is a huge win for the channel. It is now one Dell, with partners and Dell sales teams working together reporting into [Dell's new North America President Bill] Rodrigues. Before, the channel was somewhat siloed."

Both Frank Vitagliano, vice president of North America global commercial channels, select sales channels, and Jim DeFoe, vice president of Dell North America global commercial channels, nationally managed partners under the Large Value Added Reseller program, will now report to Rodrigues.

Cook's channel resume stretches back from 2006 to 2010 at Sun Microsystems, where she lead the company's channel program. "I'm a channel champion," she said.

Cook said change is on the way and could come early 2014. "Over the next month or quarter, I'm going to get a lay of the land. I'm not going to fix things that are not broken. But where I see areas that need modification and where we identify unique challenges or see unique hyper growth opportunities, yes, we are going to absolutely move fast."

One of those changes, she told CRN, was to incent partners to sell Dell's full portfolio products, selling end-to-end solutions from the client all the way up to the server, security and converged infrastructure. She also said Dell will be working hard to shore up its field engagement to reduce channel conflict and strengthen partner sales.

Venero's message to new Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances Cheryl Cook: "To listen, be flexible and then to execute. Too often with other OEMs, people create channel programs in a vacuum without listening to the companies that those programs affect, and then at the end of the day, they have to change them, adjust them and redevelop them."

Steve Burke contributed to this report.

PUBLISHED NOV. 19, 2013