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Cisco Systems plans to sell its WebEx conferencing services through an agent program for solution providers that could be ready early next year, said the vendor's channel chief last week.
The online conferencing and collaboration services Cisco bought in May when it acquired WebEx Communications have primarily been sold direct, leaving Cisco to develop a sales strategy for the services that would work for its channel, said Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of worldwide channels at Cisco, during a press event in Dublin, Ireland.
"The intent was to figure out how we take that model and translate it into a program that works for partners so we could scale it around the world. We looked at all kinds of different alternatives, and the one that the team converged on is this agency model," Goodwin said.
Through the agent program, Cisco will be looking at ways of compensating partners for selling Web conferencing, audio conferencing and videoconferencing services that could be sold in one-year or multi-year increments, Goodwin said.
"The intent of the agency model is to capture one year's worth of revenue and to compensate the partner on a fee basis based on one year of the service. The size of the service and the number of services [customers] actually sign up for determines the size of the revenue stream, which determines the size of the fee," Goodwin said. "You're fundamentally paying an agency fee to that partner for making that initial sale, and you're giving him credit for that first year of the revenue stream."
The introduction of an agent program would be a first for Cisco, he added.
Cisco is in the process of identifying partners to include in a pilot of the agent program, which likely will run for about six months, Goodwin said.
"As is typical with us, we want to pilot it, listen to the partners on how it works, and tune it before we scale it out to the rest of the partners," Goodwin said.