Cisco Pumps $75 Million Into Partner-Led Programs, Channel Incentives

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Cisco will put its money where its mouth is and invest $75 million in new resources for the channel during its fiscal 2012, the company confirmed to CRN Monday.

It's an apparent vote of confidence by Cisco's pursestrings holders in Cisco's ability to drive sales through partners to more midmarket and SMB customers, even as Cisco lays off employees and looks to remove $1 billion in expenses during the fiscal year.

The $75 million investment, described to CRN by Andrew Sage, vice president, world-wide partner led, will show up in the form of marketing resources, incentive programs for midmarket- and SMB-focused Cisco solution providers, a partner relationship management (PRM) system and access to a team of Cisco engineers put in place to help partners close deals more effectively.

Cisco, currently in the midst of a broad corporate restructuring, began to make changes to its Worldwide Partner Organization in June. The $75 million investment comes as Cisco is looking to remove $1 billion in overall expenses during the same fiscal year, but several Cisco executives have told CRN in recent months that the money and resources Cisco allocates to channel programs will be more, not less, than before -- even with the corporate slim-down in effect.

Partners have told CRN they're encouraged by many of Cisco's efforts around partner-led so far, which is the term Cisco is using to describe channel sales in midmarket and SMB accounts worldwide.

The ability to drive demand, the commitment to partnership and the ease and speed of doing business top Cisco's list of partner "care-abouts," Sage told CRN, and those things are what partner-led is about.

"It's a scalable go-to-market model which empowers and rewards Cisco partners to lead customer engagements in midmarket and SMB," Sage said.

Sage, well-known to partners for his role running small business channels within Cisco's WWPO, was promoted to vice president, worldwide partner-led in July. Sales to midmarket and SMB customers account for about $7 billion of Cisco's $43 billion in annual revenue, Sage said.

About 65 percent of the $7 billion is midmarket customers, with 35 percent SMB. The partner-led selling motion will affect thousands of Cisco solution providers that serve SMB- and midmarket-sized accounts, he explained.

Within the partner-led strategy are individual focuses by Cisco on sales to midmarket customers about 700 to 1,200 employees, and sales to SMB customers smaller than what falls into that bracket.

The midmarket focus is described as Partner Led Named, and the idea there will be to sell architectures, managed services and cloud services, Sage said, as well as meet the demand for services and integration, and sell collaboratively with Cisco. The SMB focus is described as Partner Led Velocity, focused on Cisco small business products, managed services, and cloud services with closer attention to selling products more quickly to customers, closing less-complex deals, and pushing demand generation and coverage needs.

The partners serving the former will primarily be Cisco-certified partners with advanced specializations, Sage said. The latter is primarily Select and Registered Cisco partners supported by Cisco distributors, as well as direct market resellers (DMR), service providers and national direct integrators (NDI) serving SMB.

Next: Cisco's New Initiatives For Partner-Led

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