Cisco: PRM System, New Incentives On Tap With Partner-Led Strategy

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Cisco will put a number of new resources behind its new "partner-led" strategy, including a partner relationship management (PRM) system and new incentives designed to help partners be more efficiently organized and better compensated for Cisco deals.

"We're reorganizing in a way that positions us for being simpler, being faster and being more streamlined in the way in which we go to market," said Edison Peres, Cisco's senior vice president, worldwide channels, in an interview with CRN. "It's all about building an organizational model that takes away inefficiencies and improves accountability in the decision making that we do."

Cisco earlier this summer began tweaking its Worldwide Partner Organization (WWPO) in line with the company's broader corporate restructuring.

Going forward, Cisco has been telling partners, it will have two "selling motions." One, "customer-led" will be reserved for Cisco's larger and more strategic accounts, where Cisco will take the lead on engaging with partners to sell to those accounts. The other "partner-led," will find Cisco driving more business opportunity through channel partners by letting them take the lead with customers.

"It means that we are not going to have dedicated sales people that call on dedicated customers, or territory sales managers that have either named accounts in [their] territory or have an open territory," Peres said. "Those sales people are going to be working with specific partners and their sales people, aligned around specific opportunities. Rather than be proactive, we're going to have a territory sales manager be more reactive in supporting the partner that takes the lead with these customers."

Cisco's sales teams will be reactive to partners' leads, said Peres, but CIsco will also be adding marketing resources and helping to create demand with a solution provider's sales and marketing teams, too.

Heading up the partner-led initiative is Andrew Sage, who was named vice president, worldwide partner-led in July and now reports to Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco's WWPO. Sage and his team, which now includes former Cisco Canada channel chief Donna Wittmann, are expected to unveil new partner resources -- including the PRM system and potential new value incentive programs for Cisco partners -- in the coming weeks, according to Cisco partners.

Peres confirmed to CRN that is indeed the case.

The PRM system will make how Cisco communicates with partners a lot more efficient, Peres said. Cisco can send targeted marketing messages, for example, to not only the right partner companies but the right partner executives that need to see those messages, as well as more effectively share data on deals in approval stages and compensation rewards from Cisco.

According to Peres, Cisco has also consolidated many of its operations teams under one executive, Cisco Executive Vice President Randy Pond, who is charged with making Cisco's various tools and systems more efficient. The PRM system and others like it will be handled as a partnership between Cisco's operations teams and the WWPO. Peres declined to say how much Cisco is investing in the PRM system and other partner-led incentives, but said making that investment is a must for Cisco.

"One of the things to make partner-led work is that you need this kind of tool," he said. "One of the premises of partner-led is that we're working specifically with account managers of our partners on specific accounts and/or deals. This is a very important part of the relationship with our account managers."

Partner-led, Peres explained, is not intended only for "commercial" accounts, or the term Cisco uses for SMB and midmarket engagements. It's a selling model that might be used more broadly in many cases.

"The preponderance would be [SMB and midmarket-size deals]," he said. "But there could be a country or territory where 100 percent of the business is partner-led."


Next: Partner Takes On Cisco Incentive Programs

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