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Cisco targets SMB-focused channel

Networking giant Cisco has underscored its commitment to the small and medium business (SMB) sector in EMEA after unveiling plans to roll out a raft of SMB-focused initiatives.

Networking giant Cisco has underscored its commitment to the small and medium business (SMB) sector in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) after unveiling plans to roll out a raft of SMB-focused initiatives. A new SMB Select Partner programme will reward resellers focused on this fast-growing market segment. Cisco has also come up with SMB Class solutions, SMB market intelligence tools and an SMB-focused sales team to assist the channel.

With the EMEA SMB customer category defined as companies with between 20 and 249 employees by Cisco, SMB Select Partner status aims to recognize and reward channel partners focused on this sector. To reinforce its SMB push, Cisco will create new regional sales roles by appointing Territory Market Managers (TMMs) responsible for working with resellers and helping to manage non-named account opportunities.

“The programme will grow Cisco solutions to the SMB, optimizing our channel, geographical and technical coverage by focusing on resellers who actively work with, and understand the needs of SMB businesses,” said Marius Schenderling, SMB operations manager at Cisco EMEA.

“SMB customers want the business benefits that network technology can give them, but often lack the expertise and resources to successfully implement networking solutions,” added Edison Peres, vice president advanced and core technologies, worldwide channels at Cisco. “To these customers, solution providers and value-added resellers are often relied upon as trusted business advisors. They understand their customers’ needs and challenges and can successfully position, sell and implement Cisco networking solutions. Cisco wants to develop and promote partners who understand the SMB market and maximize this growing opportunity."

To qualify for SMB Select partner status, resellers must meet minimum requirements in terms of training, sales volume and volume mix. The minimum requirements will vary by region. Benefits for those making the grade include tailored support services, financial incentives, access to training and special promotions plus a listing on Cisco’s partner locator.

“The global minimum requires SMB Select Partners to be a Registered or Certified Cisco Partner and have at least one employee who has passed the Cisco Sales Associate or Cisco Sales Expert exam,” said Peres.

“Cisco is committed to helping EMEA’s SMBs become more productive, more efficient, and more secure by enabling them to maximize the return on their investment in information technology,” said Edzard Overbeek, vice president commercial, channels and consumer EMEA at Cisco. “In line with the SMB Class solutions initiative, Cisco will introduce new SMB-focused products over the next 12 months. We will combine these with a standardised and simplified user interface on all SMB-related products, giving our customers a consistent and integrated experience.”

As enterprise vendors look to crack the lucrative SMB sector, an effective channel strategy has become a pre-requisite. “The channel partner is the key element to the success of any vendor that aims to be a SMB market leader,” said Helen Chan, small and medium strategies senior analyst at the Yankee Group. “To that end, vendors must be committed to the channel and substantiate their commitment with actions that empower partners’ success.”

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