With the rise of trends like social media and business-outcome selling, partner marketing organizations are playing a very different -- and more critical -- role than they ever have before, Cisco executives told partners Tuesday.
"The role of marketing is changing," said Sherri Liebo, vice president of Cisco Global Partner Marketing, in her opening session Tuesday at the Cisco Velocity event, taking place this week in Chicago. "We are becoming more strategic within our companies. We are moving from a traditional role of communications and sales support to a role where we are identifying new opportunities for our sales force, we're engaging with customers across new touch points, and we are driving pipeline."
The theme of this year's Velocity event -- an annual Cisco conference designed specifically for partner marketing professionals -- is "Be What's Next." The focus of this year's event, Liebo said, is to help channel marketing organizations do just that, by not only leveraging next-generation marketing tools like Twitter or LinkedIn, but through "revenue marketing," the process of aligning marketing campaigns more closely with sales and business objectives to generate a more measurable marketing ROI.
"We need to realize that our role is changing within our organizations, and how critical it is to break down any lingering barriers between sales and marketing and, in fact, [between] any other function inside the company -- anything that gets in the way of building a seamless connection with our customers," Liebo told partners.
To help partners embrace revenue marketing, Cisco at its Global Partner Summit last year committed to generating $1 billion worth of qualified leads to hand over to partners in one year. According to Liebo, Cisco, less than a year later, has generated $2 billion in leads, 21 percent of which, she said, have already been converted to partner revenue. Twenty percent of those deals, she said, were net new to Cisco.
"We have made fantastic progress on our revenue marketing journey together," Liebo said.
Haley Montgomery, director of marketing and partner development at TekLinks, a Birmingham, Ala.-based Cisco Gold partner, said her biggest objective is to strengthen the TekLinks brand, making it as recognizable to customers as the company's OEM partner brands are today.
"Unless you have been sold a TekLinks product or know a TekLinks salesperson, you might not know who TekLinks is," said Montgomery said, noting that she recently kicked off a new social media strategy as a first step. "We are kind of starting from scratch, in a lot of ways, which is kind of a bad thing and a good thing."
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