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Tech Data Expands Program Targeting Increased Cisco Partner Sales

The Tech Data Cisco Partner Enablement Framework is getting a heavy dose of automation along with deeper levels of distributor involvement as a way to help Cisco's solution providers see increased growth.

Tech Data has expanded its Cisco-focused partner enablement program with new training and consulting capabilities aimed at helping both existing and new Cisco partners expand their business.

The enhancements to the Tech Data Cisco Partner Enablement Framework, unveiled at last week's Tech Data TechSelect conference, provide a range of resources to help partners grow, said Angie McCourt, vice president of Cisco solutions for the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor.

"We do everything based on what partners need to grow, automate and manage their Cisco business," McCourt told CRN. "We look at how to help partners leverage our resources and invest in in their business."

[Related: Tech Data Touts Tech-As-A-Service, Plans To Expand Enterprise Hardware Offerings In 2H'18]

Tech Data's Cisco partner relationship is built on how to better align how the distributor works with that vendor's channel partners, said John Spiridigliozzi, chief operating officer at Infinit Technology Solutions, an East Syracuse, N.Y.-based solution provider, MSP and Cisco channel partner.

"It all comes down to what Tech Data can bring to bear on what Cisco is doing with the channel," Spiridigliozzi told CRN. "We look to Tech Data helping Cisco be in alignment with us, and committed to working with us."

Spiridigliozzi said there are several key areas where Tech Data helps partners work with Cisco, including training new people and showing them how to manage customers.

"Managing customers is a daunting process," he said. "It's an evolving process. Cisco's tools through Tech Data save us time and money on making sure we get the training we need."

The biggest addition to the Tech Data Cisco Partner Enablement Framework is Tech Boot, which targets channel partners' tech-related personnel with training across data center and wireless networking, McCourt said.

"Cisco's certification training is typically focused on a small number of people," she said. "But partners have many people who deal with Cisco. With our acquisition last year of Avnet's Technology Solutions business, we now have a slew of new resources we can add."

Tech Data also expanded the Sales Boot aimed at training partners' salespeople with the addition of vertical-focused solution selling for upcoming areas such as health care and the Internet of Things, McCourt said.

We're trying to help partners' salespeople get through the opportunity," she said. "Sometimes they don't even know which questions to ask. We want to make it easier for partners to specialize."

Tech Data also expanded its TDTransform offering with new business intelligence featuring consulting based on research firm IDC combined with new Cisco information, McCourt said.

"We're providing more consulting experience and information to help partners expand their Cisco business, understand the market, look at whether there is a surplus of Cisco certifications in certain geographies, and so on," she said.

New to TDTransform is helping partners better understand their status in terms of certifications, training and events, and provides detailed information on the benefits they have received from Cisco's channel programs, McCourt said.

"Business owners can use the information to justify expenses and training," she said. "This lets them see what the opportunities look like, and what the future looks like."

The core training part of the program, which has been around for six or seven years to provide foundational training for account executives to understand and sell Cisco products and tools, has been given a new digital enablement capability, McCourt said.

This includes a refreshed dashboard with new categories of information available, deeper dives on important topics, new "briefcases" to help introduce particular offerings, and video-on-demand to more easily understand Cisco's new technologies, she said.

Finally, Tech Data added new operational whiteboards, which are modules to help the distributor understand how well partners are working with customers behind the scenes.

"If a partner starts great, sees growth acceleration, and meets its numbers, great," McCourt said. "But if it's not seeing growth, we want to see that and look at what they need. This is not about certifications or training on Cisco sales. It's about seeing if something is not effective that prevents partners from making more money."

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