Cisco Boosts Partner Aid

Unveiled last week at Cisco's Partner Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, the partner programs are part of Cisco's effort to help partners close more deals and to make it easier to do business with the vendor, Cisco executives said.

"For partners to grow, we need to [increase] credit capacity," said Cisco Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels Paul Mountford.

The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor previously offered a trade-in program that gave customers cash back for old equipment, to encourage businesses to upgrade their infrastructure. However, under that plan, solution providers received no reward or incentive for facilitating the deal, said Chuck Robbins, vice president of U.S. channels at Cisco.

Now, through its Trade-In Accelerator Program, Cisco is offering partners a 15 percent rebate on the value of customer trade-ins, adding an estimated three to four points of gross margin for partners, Robbins said.

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The new rebate will encourage partners' sales teams to push customers to upgrade older equipment, said Ethan Simmons, partner at NetTeks Technology Consultants, Boston. "It keeps [upgrades] in front of everyone's mind and [encourages] them to think about it as part of the sales process."

Both Cisco and non-Cisco hardware are eligible for the trade-ins, including legacy TDM phone equipment.

Also at the Partner Summit, Cisco's wholly owned financing subsidiary, Cisco Systems Capital, is adding $750 million in short-term financing to boost partners' credit capacity, said David Rogan, president of Cisco Systems Capital and vice president of Cisco. The financing boost includes $250 million from Cisco through 30-day open account terms and $500 million through 30-to-90-day inventory financing via third-party lenders, he said.

"We're providing the headroom and capacity needed to allow our channel partners to grow," Rogan said, adding that the move ensures that partners will have enough financing capacity to meet product demand generated by the new trade-in program.

The company also is rolling out new simplified leasing options for SMB customers. Through the Cisco Capital Commercial Easy Lease Program, partners now can offer leasing for deals as small as $1,000. The program also includes Web-based tools to expedite lease approvals.