HP redefines its local sales model

Each way bet is the phrase that comes to mind to describe Hewlett-Packard's new marketing strategy for Australia. Resellers, together with the company's direct sales force and, of course, HP's Web site will all play a part in the strategy.

The strategy is aimed at propelling sales of PCs and peripherals past the $1 billion mark in Australia and New Zealand within the next year. They are currently running at about $800 million for Australasia or about 60 per cent of the company's total revenues here.

Chris Greig, general manager of HP's commercial channels organisation in Australia, said the company would continue to grow its business through the channel. "We have a unique understanding of the channel and we need to evolve the channel," Greig said.

"We will continue to invest and grow our business through the channel," he said.

"But we recognise that customers need flexibility and ease of doing business with HP."

To handle direct sales, HP has set up HP Prime to handle direct sales. However, a reseller will still be involved. Greig said that HP Prime was aimed at larger customers.

For sales through the existing channel, HP has set up HP Partner Prime. The company said this formalised the "engagement between HP, the reseller and the customer".

Greig said the company was aiming to get closer to the customer through both programs. "That means turning HP from a product-centric company to a customer-centric company," he said.

"That's going to take time," he added. "It will mean a cultural change."

The third pillar in the company's PC sales model will be to sell over its Web site.

Announced earlier this month in the US, HP Online Store will offer what HP terms, "a complete e-business experience fulfilled by specialist resellers".

It is the inclusion of resellers at this level that will separate HP from the direct model it is aiming to emulate - that of Dell Computer.

"If you compare us with Dell, it has a high level of customer relationship," Greig said. "However, it has a limited range of products and services. HP has a much broader range of products and services but a lower level of customer relationship.

"Our aim to is to move our relationship with the customer up to the same level as that of Dell," he said.

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