Cisco Targets HP-3Com Base With Aggressive SMB Financing

Cisco on Tuesday will kick off a new three-year, zero-percent interest financing program specific to Cisco voice and UC deployments for the SMB market, CRN has learned.

The move comes as Cisco looks to to capitalize on turmoil in the Avaya-Nortel and HP-3Com channels and continue a recent streak of aggressive financing plans for SMB-focused solution providers and SMB-level customers.

The program will offer three-year financing at zero percent interest, followed by a $1 buyout at the end of the transaction where the customer ultimately owns the equipment. Under the terms of the program, Cisco will cover deals ranging from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $75,000.

The deal must include at least one of Cisco's SMB-geared UC systems, either Cisco UC450 or Cisco UC560. Cisco will cover Cisco-branded hardware, software and bundled services, while non-Cisco products aren't eligible. The program extends through July 30, 2011, and all orders need to be booked or shipped from distribution by that date.

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In addition to the financing, Cisco will also give $1,250 to any customer that replaces a competitive UC system with one of Cisco's UC systems.

"For the small customer buying voice, we've upped the ante," said Andrew Sage, vice president, small business and midmarket sales at Cisco, in a discussion with CRN. "A lot of partners that sell voice have been taking advantage of financing programs, and they're continuing to really ask us for it."

Sage said Cisco sees a lot of consternation among channel partners selling rival voice products from the likes of HP and Avaya to SMBs. Cisco archrival HP recently confirmed to CRN that the VCX voice product line it acquired from 3Com will head into "maintenance mode," a designation many frustrated HP-3Com VARs see as certain death for the products.

"We see a huge opportunity at Cisco to capitalize on a market in transition," Sage said. "There's a lot of churn in the market."

Financing programs are an area of continued investment for Cisco as it looks to up its stake in the SMB. A year ago, solution providers raved about the three-year, zero-percent financing program Cisco offered for SMB deals between $1,000 and $250,000. The terms of that program have since changed -- it's now 3 percent financing, and the ceiling is $150,000 -- and it continues through the end of April.

Cisco's SMB offensive has also meant a continuing series of new products in the past two years, and according to Sage, Cisco will be even more focused on small business and the midmarket, which it defines overall as the commercial space, this year.