Dell’s Cheryl Cook on new MDF, training and financial offers

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Dell’s Cheryl Cook on new MDF, training and financial offers

Dell Technologies' Cheryl Cook said Dell’s slew of new offerings and financial options for partners will make it easier for them and their customers to navigate the myriad issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In these uncertain times, liquidity and cash flow are really critical and very important to partners,” said Cook, senior vice president of global partner, embedded and edge solutions marketing, in an interview with CRN. “So we wanted to offer some unique ways through MDF and training, but also through our financial resources and tools around extended payment terms, credit and aggressive and proactive financing, that will really be tailored and flexible to meet partners' needs in these times.”

For Gold, Platinum and Titanium partners, Dell is providing a cash payout for up to 50 percent of current partner Market Development Fund (MDF) and Business Development Fund (BDF) balances for use toward marketing activities. Dell also is giving partners fee-waived Services Deployment training for its Unity XT, VxRail and DP4400 infrastructure offerings from now until May 31, as well as new team-based pricing options to make training more affordable.

Dell Financial Services is offering three-, six- and nine-month deferrals for qualified credit, and as low as a six-month term and rotation lease options for select laptops, thin clients and mobile workstations. DFS is also providing 24-month financing at zero percent interest for servers and select storage products and 36-month financing at 3.99 percent interest for the majority of Dell Technologies products.

“With the flexibility provided by Dell, we can do creative marketing that targets our clients as they work remotely, such as virtual lunch-and-learns and no-cost training,” said Stephen Ayoub, president of $1.3 billion Ahead, a Chicago-based top Dell partner. “Our customers have been very interested in the flexible financing options made available by Dell to help them preserve cash while still investing in technology.”

In an interview with CRN, Cook explains why channel partners should leverage Dell’s new offerings to help customers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.


What is Dell doing around market development funding to help partners during the pandemic?

For our medal partners that earn MDF, we’ve done two things. We’re offering a unique one-time opportunity for a cash payment of up to 50 percent, or half, of the balance of their funds that they’ve already accrued. It’s to be used, obviously, for marketing-related activities, but they can get the dollars in advance with a plan that’s approved rather than having to use their own funds to perform marketing activities and then get reimbursed by us. So the partners get the benefit of the time, it frees up cash for them and certainly offers them more flexibility.

The other thing we’re doing is we’ve given an extension for any unspent MDF dollars to the end of July. So they would have needed to use those dollars by the end of March, but given this unique situation, we’re offering them the extension of another quarter to go use those dollars and conduct any marketing activities. Those are two little stimuluses, if you will, or some help that Dell is offering in flexibility within MDF.


What training fees are you now waiving to help partners get certified faster and cheaper?

A lot of these partners are really doing great work around deployment, services and certification. So we’re waiving the fees to the end of May 2020 for services deployment training around Unity XT, VxRail and our data protection offerings. We’re also offering flexibility for team-based pricing. Many of these partners have multiple individuals that they’d like to get certified in the training. So we’re offering some flexibility for team-based incentives or pricing, if you will, for that training.

So there’s no fee for the training to the partner through the end of May. They’ve always had the opportunity to use their MDF funds to help pay for the training, but what is unique here for solution providers is they can get this training via the portal, they can get self-served training and they can achieve and receive their certifications for deployment. We have a host of tools that allow remote diagnostics and certainly everybody is sensitive to people going on-site, but from a fee perspective, this is waiving the fee. Then they can achieve their certifications. So this is a fantastic time while we’re all remote, not going on-site, when many of our partners can achieve these certifications and we waive the fee.


With work-from-home solutions in high demand, can you talk about the new six-month term and rotation lease options for Dell’s laptops, thin clients and mobile workstations?

This is a [Dell Financial Services] financing solution to really help our partners meet the aggressive fast-time- to-deploy and fast-time-to-finance demand out there by offering six-month terms and rotations so that when business go back [to normal], this really gets them enabled on a work-from-home and work-remote proactive solution. This is really extending the financing, the technology, the processes, the methodologies and, frankly, the lessons we’ve learned from experience so that they can have very fast, successful deployments to get them working remotely. So we crafted this with the move to a work-from-home workforce in mind. We have a lot of experience as a company who has been doing work-from-home for about 10 years.


Can you talk about the deferrals for qualified credit? It seems like a way a partner can jump-start customers who might have put things on hold due to coronavirus.

That’s exactly right. They would meet with our team and our financial services, and we really try to be flexible and customize the right solution for the partner. But to your point, if they have deployments that have been deferred, they can leverage this resource that can help drive better alignment to when they would receive the revenue when projects would be re-engaged or deployed. We’re even providing up to zero percent interest on servers and select storage offerings available right now. There’s a host of flexible offers, and the deferred payment is just another example of how we’re trying to be really sensitive to these unique needs and tailor these financing tools and resources to help accommodate that.


How is Dell Financial Services helping partners through this?

We have robust Dell Financial Services resources and tools. Both Dell Financial Services and our Working Capital Solutions Program can be used together. So you can leverage Dell Financial Services to get favorable payment terms and leasing for the end customer. They can leverage Working Capital Solutions to help offer extended payment terms marrying the two together. These are two programs that have been in place for some time. Our Working Capital Solutions Program really deals with everything that is front of mind for our partners around how to get extended payment terms, how to improve cash flow, how to offer the most flexibility. We continue to really see good adoption and leverage of these that are, quite frankly, an advantage over what I think some of our competitors are offering. But again, we’re reminding partners what resources and tools we have and that we’re committed to them through this unique time.


Why is Dell coming out with these new offerings now?

In these uncertain times, liquidity and cash flow are really critical and very important to partners. So we wanted to offer some unique ways through MDF and training, but also through our financial resources and tools around extended payment terms, credit and aggressive and proactive financing that will really be tailored and flexible to meet partners' needs in these times. We have so many examples of partners helping customers with business continuity solutions right now. They’re helping them with work-from-home solutions and being able to be responsive, agile and aggressive. We want to help be flexible around the financing and payment terms for our customers and partners.

All of us are navigating these unique moments and times. This pandemic brings about unique pressures for a lot of our partners. We want to continue to be as flexible and supportive in any way we can with them.


What’s your message to Dell Technologies’ channel?

We’re pretty optimistic that when this passes, we are going to be standing side by side with our partners through this and after this crisis. We just want to be as flexible and sensitive to the unique requirements and requests that their customers are having. It’s really the right thing to do to help be a good partner with our solution providers and their customers. Technology has never been more needed than it is now. So our partners are serving top-line caregivers, they're serving small businesses, so we want to make sure we’re leveraging and bringing the resources that Dell Technologies has to really support them during this time.


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