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Cisco Lifecycle Push Includes Partner Rewards, Customer Entitlements To Partner Services

Customers are leaning on partners for help from start to finish, so Cisco revealed two new customer entitlements for partner services on enterprise agreements aimed at boosting channel business.

Cisco is committed to moving from a transactional to a lifecycle approach with the help of partners.  

The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is evolving its reward structure for partners and the tech giant took to Cisco Partner Summit 2019 to announce two new customer entitlements for enterprise agreements (EA); Solution Starter and Upgrader Starter, that will boost channel business.  

Via the new entitlements, when a customer buys a new enterprise networking solution, signs up to an EA, or upgrades an existing data center solution, they can draw upon partner services to help get up and running quickly. Both the Solution Starter and Upgrade Starter are available to customers and include free hardware and software, as well as an entitlement for the end customer to a partner' help, said Marc Surplus, vice president of partner strategy and programs. 

"Increasingly, customers are looking for partners that can automate the network differently to really build on top of Cisco as a platform to deliver outcomes," Surplus said. "[The customer entitlements] will give partners market recognition and differentiation. Customers will be able to see the partners that can give them the cutting-edge innovation they need to make their customers successful."  

[Related: Cisco Partner Summit 2019 Preview: Oliver Tuszik Wants Partners To ‘Own Their Edge'] 

Customers buying an enterprise networking or intent-based networking enterprise agreement are not only going to get the new capabilities they want, but now, the end customer will have a credit for services that they can invest with their reselling partner, said Nirav Sheth, vice president of worldwide sales and systems engineering for Cisco's Global Partner Organization.  

"That partner now has an immediate bounty they can go after with their customer to start the customer on their journey," Sheth said. "Partners will then get rewarded for getting the customer to a proof of concept level, and then we are also going to be rewarding the partner as the customer continues to adopt more capabilities or expand their footprint."  

Customers are leaning heavily on channel partners for help with the entire IT experience. Most profit comes post-landing the deal because it's about what happens after a customer chooses to adopt a new technology, Surplus said.  

Partners that are in Cisco's lifecycle advisor program are growing two times faster when compared to partners outside the program, and as a result, these partners have been earning about 5 percent higher recurring revenue which helps their overall profitability, he said.  

Internetwork Engineering, a Charlotte, N.C.-based solution provider and Cisco partner, now asks “why” every time a customer says they need a new product, said Sean Rollman, CTO for Internetwork Engineering. Cisco's lifecycle approach is helping the firm take an outcome-focused approach to sales, he said. 

"It’s a culture shift," Rollman said. "When you talk about lifecycle services, it's not a one size fits all approach. We have invested in a team of four people focused on renewals and customer success … our goal is to focus on customer acquisition, customer retention, and Cisco’s investment in us has made this possible."  

Natilik, a UK.-based solution provider and Cisco DevNet partner, is taking advantage of the DevNet platform to build out its professional services organization and focus on user outcomes, said Mike Dornan, COO of Natilik.  

"We are keen to develop our own [intellectual property] (IP)," said It's an important part of our recurring revenue stream," Dornan said. "The Cisco specializations and qualifications are really encouraging our teams to take their career forward beyond pure technology skills."  

The real opportunity for partners with the two new entitlements, Surplus said, lies in helping customers more actively use the solutions in a production environment, selling their value-added services to the customer, and help them across the entire lifecycle

"Not only does it help customers, but it helps partners as they build out new professional services to be profitability and so they can position them successfully with customers in more of an ongoing practice framework," he said. "We think they are really going to be a game-changer for partners investing in the lifecycle-first approach and profiting from driving these lifecycle services."

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