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Other new partner resources will be part of a program called Partner 360, which will include the new PRM system.
The PRM system, described to CRN by Edison Peres, senior vice president, worldwide channels, last month, will let Cisco do things such as send targeted marketing messages to certain partner executives, as well as share data on partner-led deals in various stages of approval and reward from Cisco. It's not a new system, according to Cisco, but has been updated to support the partner-led effort.
Sage added that as part of Partner 360, Cisco will also reward points to Cisco partners depending on the amount of Cisco products and services they sell and the technical competencies they've achieved.
Points accrued in the program can be redeemed for things like Cisco learning credits and travel and merchandise, Sage said, for partners' Cisco account managers and systems engineers.
Everything from point totals to deal statuses will be viewable in the PRM system, Sage said. Cisco has spent the last six months tweaking its partner database so it has the most up-to-date information on existing partner AMs and SEs that work with Cisco, he added.
"It's all going to be a much closer and more informed view of what's happening out there in the field," he said.
Cisco has slowly begun to brief partners on what the partner led resources will entail. Based on early conversations, partners say the changes from Cisco will make channel business run more smoothly.
"Some of the early discussions we've had about being easier to do business with definitely sound appealing," said Brett LaCourse, senior market development manager for the Cisco business at Teracai, a Syracuse-based solution provider whose Cisco business is up 10 percent year-over-year.
Having a more streamlined approval process for SMB and midmarket deals will remove a logistical headache, LaCourse said, because it means deals won't get stalled in bureaucracy if they need to be adjusted for customer needs during the process.
"Things change and products change, and sometimes you have to go back through and start the approval process over again if that happens," he said. "You do spend a lot of time getting the deal approved."
"If it's harder to get to that 'buy' decision, there are some competitors [to Cisco] to portray themselves as easier to do business with," added Pete Belyea, president of Teracai and sister company CXtec, also based in Syracuse.
Sage said the PRM system will go live early in the second half of Cisco's 2012, whose third quarter begins Feb. 1.
Sage added that a lot of the partner-led resources will be available to partners only if they've agreed to take Cisco products or services to market. Entering a deal into the PRM system, he said, is acknowledgment of that agreement.
Along with the new resources, Sage has spent the summer building his partner-led team inside Cisco's broader WWPO.
Leading the Partner Led Named effort, focused on midmarket, is Donna Wittmann, the former channel chief for Cisco Canada who was named director, Partner Led Named, in August. Leading the Partner Led Velocity effort, focused on SMB, is Sanjay Jindal, senior director, Partner Led Velocity.
Along with Smith, who is leading the TSN team, another key executive is Brian Carrier, director, new capabilities, who will be driving Partner 360 and the PRM system, Sage added.
Overall, said Sage, Cisco's focus on channel sales to midmarket and SMB customers hasn't changed, and Cisco doesn't want the perception that its selling strategy to that segment of the market has been overhauled.
"Foundationally, we are still the same channel company," Sage said. "We can create some new value for partners in this concept."