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Dave Elsner, vice president of sales and marketing at Nexus Integration Services, a Valencia, Calif.-based Cisco Gold partner, said he's noticed a big change in the various partner resources being more quickly available to partners.
"We have more technical resources available to us than ever before," he said. "We see more specialists in the field focused on partners than we do Cisco internal employees. It used to be that a Cisco Account Manager [AM] had a specialist they'd bring in if they needed to, but now they're at our fingertips. A year ago, everything had to go through the AM, and now there are more resources directly for the partner."
Nexus receives more marketing support for things such as demand generation, Elsner said, and Cisco has been much faster about deal approvals, without as much contention or what he described as "escalation issues" with various partners and Cisco colliding on an account.
Still flawed, Elsner said, is Cisco's Teaming Incentive Program (TIP), a relatively new channel incentive designed to reward partners for the work they do early in a sales cycle. One conflict frequently mentioned by several partners is how Cisco field reps too often ignore TIP and urge partners to instead register deals with the Opportunity Incentive Program (OIP), an older program that rewards partners who bring new business opportunities to Cisco.
Jim Sherriff, Cisco senior vice president, U.S. and Canada partner organization, told CRN in January that Cisco had spent time training its field sales reps on how TIP was supposed to work to cut down on challenges.
"It wasn't until a month or two months ago that Cisco AMs started to understand what it was about," Nexus' Elsner said. "When we had a TIP opportunity, they were constantly pushing us into OIP because it was just easier for them to do that and they didn't understand it. A lot of them focus on the path of least resistance so they were always saying, 'Just put it in OIP.' "
As for Nexus' strongest Cisco-related opportunities -- Elsner noted its VXI-related virtual infrastructure business, hosted UC and UCS-related data center sales as big priorities -- Cisco overall has shown new commitment to partners focused on architectural plays.
"It used to be that if Cisco had any kind of incumbent partner in an account, we weren't allowed to get any kind of deal reg with it," Elsner said. "They're now a lot better at giving us architectural deal reg. What I mean by that is if maybe there's a partner in there doing voice, but not video, we can go in there for the video opportunities. It's nice that Cisco's come down to it at an architectural level now."
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