"If you're trying to sell technologies users haven't used before, that requires consultative selling," Chan said. Part of HP's plan for the SMB market is to show owners of small companies who don't have a technology background what the latest products and services can do for their business, and that's hard to do without a strong partner program, she said.
HP thinks it has an advantage over its competitors such as Dell Inc. and IBM Corp. because of its close relationship with partners and its roster of technology experts ranging from imaging and printing to servers and storage, said Chris Ogburn, director of sales and development for HP SMB Americas.
SMB customers will pay more for products that come through partners who can help them set up and configure their new equipment, said Ray Boggs, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. These customers don't want learn the intricacies of network management, and will appreciate the value of service packages that allow them to implement IT products while keeping their main focus on their growing business, he said.
Services packages like the ones HP announced Monday also boost its standing among its channel partners, Boggs said. These smaller resellers are used to selling low-margin hardware products such as printers and PCs, and services are higher-margin offerings that also give the resellers more opportunity to sell additional hardware while engaged with the customer, he said.