Cisco invests in partner-led programmes

Even as Cisco has started to lay off staff as it looks to remove $1 billion in expenses during the current fiscal year, the networking major has revealed that it’s investing $75 million in new resources for the channel during its fiscal 2012.

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Cisco invests in partner-led programmes
By  Manda Banda Published  November 27, 2011

Even as Cisco has started to lay off staff as it looks to remove $1 billion in expenses during the current fiscal year, the networking major has revealed that it’s investing $75 million in new resources for the channel during its fiscal 2012. Channel Middle East spoke to Saeed Agha, regional manager, Cisco UAE to find out how partners in the region will be empowered through the new channel incentives.

CHANNEL: Cisco has revealed on a worldwide scale that it will be investing $75 million in new resources for the channel during its fiscal 2012. How will this filter through to the channel in the Middle East region?

SAEED AGHA: Cisco has long been known as a leader in channel partner initiatives, and currently more than 80% of our business goals through the channel. With all the changes going on at the company, one thing that is absolutely not changing is Cisco’s commitment to helping its channel partners grow their revenue and find new opportunities. The Partner-Led programme is a change in the way Cisco approaches its sales coverage model and the initiative is designed to put even more emphasis on being a channel-based go-to-market vendor. We will rely even more on partners for sales to the mid-market and SMB spaces, and to make that happen, Cisco has come up with this initiative to reward partners for their investments in the SMB and mid-market sectors.

CHANNEL: How will this strategy be rolled out here in the Middle East?

SAEED AGHA:  Cisco’s strategy is to accelerate the Partner-Led model at a global level. In the Middle East region, we aim to create new growth opportunities for partners and invest in this scalable go-to-market model which empowers and rewards partners to lead customer engagements in the SMB and mid-market segments. The initiatives and programmes supporting our partners will be in the form of marketing resources, incentive programmes and access to the Cisco Technical Engineers Network (CTEN) to accelerate partner growth. These measurable initiatives will be targeted mainly towards two important goals: channel enablement and lead generation. Enablement will accelerate our channel relationship, reputation and trust with partners and their end-user customers.

CHANNEL: How transparent will the partner-led initiative be to ensure that partners benefit from it?

SAEED AGHA:  At Cisco, we are always driven by a strong belief that trust is a benefit that is bestowed, earned through actions reinforced by transparency and engagement. The other goal of implementing this programme in the region is to generate demand by leveraging marketing through our partners. We have already rolled out some of the investments and initiatives here in the Middle East. Partners have access to our programmes such as: ‘partners sales force’, ‘partner marketing centre’ and ‘technical support network’.

CHANNEL: What will be vital to ensuring success with these new partner initiatives in the region?

SAEED AGHA:  Partner relation management systems will be at the heart of these programmes. All our partners will have access to the programmes through a set qualification criteria. In addition, our partners will also have the chance to choose the best programmes that matches their strategies and focus markets. For any new initiatives, we will seek the channel’s views to get the best fit for our market.

CHANNEL: What type of resources will you be providing to partners with these new initiatives?

SAEED AGHA:  We will provide focused resources for both SMB and mid-market focused channel partners. One of the most important ways we will do so is by opening up the Technology Solutions Network (TSN) pre-sales system engineering service to partners. To date, the TSN has only been available to Cisco’s sales engineers, but as of 1st November 2011, we will pilot the programme with 300 partners. The programme will be generally available to partners by the second half of our fiscal year 2012. We are also going to aid partners to be better marketers.

CHANNEL: Are the partner-led programmes open to all Cisco partners?

SAEED AGHA:  All the initiatives under the Partner-Led initiative will be open to all our partners with a clear criteria and agreed expectation. As these programmes are focused on different sub segments and different customer needs, interested partners will be encouraged and helped to qualify for these initiatives. It’s important to emphasise that that channel partners will have to meet agreed expectations because that’s how their success will be measured.

CHANNEL: What demand generation activities is Cisco lining up in the region?

SAEED AGHA:  Our plans for the region include a variety of activities ranging from telemarketing campaigns, mail shots, end-users events, partner round tables along with aggressive promotions and rebate-based programmes. Our partners will be announcing the full details of these activities in their respective countries in due course.
Because our partners are core to our business and a key driver for Cisco’s future growth, Cisco will continue to constantly innovate the way it engages with its channel ecosystem in the region.

Cisco will under this initiative offer a great variety of resources to support the development and adoption of our marketing campaigns. Through a consolidated intelligent resource repository named Partner Marketing Central (PMC), our partners (regardless of their certification level) are able to access on demand free content ready to be integrated within their own marketing campaigns.

This content is constantly updated according to the partners’ credentials and it includes relevant material such as assets, web banners, telemarketing scripts and e-mail templates for direct communication or e-mail based campaigns. We also through the PMC provide key marketing resources intended to support events organisation; enabling our partners to support event related processes.

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