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Cisco is reevaluating its compensation strategy to consider whether Cisco sales reps should be eligible for compensation on Linksys business, said Nigel Williams, vice president of worldwide channels at Linksys. Any potential changes would not take effect until the start of Cisco's next fiscal year in August, he said.
Further confusion could also be cleared after Cisco decides how much longer the Linksys moniker will even survive. Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers confirmed at the conference that the vendor plans to move all branding under the Cisco name.
"We've announced that we are going to migrate all branding toward Cisco, but each of the different [geographic] areas has a different consideration for how fast that will happen," Giancarlo said. While the Linksys brand is expected to disappear on the consumer side, there is still a chance it will endure for small business products, he said.
In the meantime, Linksys is preparing a new small business-focused channel program that's set to launch in May. The forthcoming program will put more emphasis on value instead of volume, rewarding partners for increasing their investment in Linksys, Williams said. Linksys will also be rolling out partner specializations and increased marketing support in the form of lead generation activities and market development funds, he said.
At the same time, Linksys will increase partner recruitment efforts, where it is eyeing a huge trove of untapped Cisco solution providers, Williams said.
The company believes there is only 5 percent to 7 percent overlap between Linksys' base of 12,000 registered partners and Cisco's 34,000, Williams said. "There's a base of approximately 44,000 partners for us jointly to go after, but historically we haven't," he said.
That's why Cisco and Linksys now are working to unify their sales and distribution strategies with a single group of partners. "We will have one single registered partner community between Cisco and Linksys," Williams said. "If you register with Cisco, you're automatically registered with Linksys, and vice versa. We can start to send unified marketing and positioning messages to the community."
Williams said the timing is right for Linksys to launch an aggressive push into small and medium-sized businesses as the company's new leadership is driving considerable change. "This is the first time we've had a worldwide channel organization, a dedicated organization of people governing the channel," Williams said. Linksys has also been making internal investments, including product development and the addition of 200 new employees company-wide over the past eight months.