The new VP of US Print Specialty Channel Sales for HP shares his thoughts on his new position, goals for the company year, and factors that will determine HP’s success in the channel.
Last month HP announced the appointment of John Whidden as vice president of US Print Specialty Channel Sales. A 30-year HP veteran, Whidden most recently served as vice president US Named Account Supplies. In his previous role he worked closely with channel partners, including some of the same he will be working with now as the company looks to expand into the dealer channel with its A3 products.
Although he’d only been in the position for a few weeks when I spoke to him on April 2, he was still able to describe the specifics of his new role at HP, what he’s been working on since taking the position, and his goals for the coming year.
Unlike his previous position managing an end-user team, calling on customer accounts, and working with partners, this new position is completely partner oriented.
“We’re making a big push integrating the Samsung organization and getting organized around the business and partners we’re going to be working with,” Whidden explained. “I’ve been spending a lot of time organizing how the team is going to look like next year and reaching out to partners and getting a sense of where we’re at from an HP perspective.”
As with his previous position, he’ll be dealing with partners coast to coast across the U.S. to get HP established in the dealer channel.
“We’ve got quite a bit of work to do to build those relationships over time and we don’t have the advantage of some of our competitors who have been in the space for a number of years,” said Whidden. “It’s all about reaching out, making connections and building relationships.”
HP has managers for the East, West, and a new Central Sales Region, which was added to give HP greater coverage across the U.S. These changes will result in better coverage as the teams are built out and Samsung personnel are merged within each of these regions.
“We’ve got some tough competitors who have coverage and relationships across the country,” said Whidden. “We don’t have the luxury of having as many folks as they do right now, but we are excited to build out the Central Region and provide more focus across the country to each region.”
He is fully aware that this is not going to happen overnight.
“I’ve been at HP for some time and we’ve always been a company that’s been in it for the long haul,” stated Whidden. “We’ve always treated customers and partners the right way. We’re not perfect but if we build those relationships and bring value to those partners and to our mutual customers, that’s our goal.”
He acknowledged that the year will be a critical one for HP in terms of the two companies (HP and Samsung) coming together and competing with companies that are well established in the channel. The big challenge for Whidden and his team is a challenge that HP has been facing ever since it decided to go all in on A3—building relationships and trust.
“Most of the dealers are looking at us and trying to see if we’re going to be committed for the long haul, which we are,” emphasized Whidden. “For us the big objective is letting them understand the value we’re bringing and the differentiators we offer.”
Asked how he will gauge his success in this new position, Whidden said, “We know we have to make an impact with these partners to want to work with HP and we have to define our value to them. Success for us is having partners recognize the value [we bring] and being successful themselves with their customers and differentiating with the HP offering. If we do that in the long-run we know we’ll be a big part of this competitive market.”
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