Cisco, Microsoft Join Forces In SMB Market

VoIP platform CRM SMB

The companies this week are launching new FastStart Web sites designed to help solution providers cross-partner to sell joint solutions. Cisco also is launching Unified CRM Connector 3.0, its middleware for tying its Unified CallManager, Unified CallManager Express and Unified Contact Center Express products to the latest version of Microsoft CRM.

Only a handful of Cisco’s 500 certified IP communications partners overlap with Microsoft’s roughly 1,000 certified CRM partners, creating a huge opportunity for the companies’ channel partners to team up, said Peter Alexander, vice president of worldwide commercial marketing at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

“This is an opportunity for our channel partners and those of Microsoft to find higher-value opportunities in the SMB market,” Alexander said. “[We’ve found that] when a Cisco partner collaborates with a Microsoft partner, together they can build a more complete solution that leads to 20 percent incremental revenues for both sides.”

Solution provider Special Order Systems is one of the few partners certified in Cisco IP Communications and Microsoft CRM. However, since its specialty is IP communications, it has teamed up with other Microsoft partners to deliver joint Cisco/Microsoft solutions, said Gia McNutt, CEO of the Rocklin, Calif., company.

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“CRM is not something to dabble in, so we believe that partnering is the way to go to make sure the customer gets the full value,” McNutt said.

To help bring its partners together, the two companies are launching new FastStart Web sites that feature partner locator tools, sales and marketing materials and a partner agreement form that outlines each solution provider’s responsibilities in a joint engagement.

The vendors also are helping to sponsor 64 events around the country this year for Cisco and Microsoft partners to jointly market to their customers.

Cisco Unified CRM Connector links with Dynamic CRM to provide screen pops that include data on callers’ current and past purchases, sales information, order status, account relationships and billing information. Version 3.0 adds a feature that also enables users to view CRM information on their Cisco IP phones. It is available now.