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Cisco Accelerates Partner Change With New Tools, Engagement

Cisco

Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of July’s important channel-program changes you should know.**

It was much easier for Cisco partners to sell boxes back in the day compared to engaging with multiple ecosystem partners to drive new customer deals today. To help partners learn how to rethink and conduct business today and in the future, as well as overcome challenges along the way, Cisco has put together resources, tools and programs — and is rolling them out to help partners.

Cisco's Denny TrevettA couple of programs – the Accelerating Cisco Ecosystem Sales (ACES) framework for resellers and Partner Connection Events – exemplify Cisco initiatives. Additionally, Cisco has put together an acceleration team, led by Denny Trevett, vice president, ecosystem acceleration for the global partner organization, which officially rolled out this fiscal quarter.

The ACES framework for resellers and Cisco direct sellers is designed to help ecosystem partners engage together in comprehensive deals and includes tools to help with things such as account planning and selection; and Partner Connection Events, a Shark Tank-like event where vendor or ISV partners get to talk about their solutions and Cisco drives engagement with resellers.

“We want to help our partners understand that [digital transformation] is happening everywhere and what we’re doing to change our approach to maximize our opportunity,” Trevett said.{ad}

The digital transformation opportunity is worth billions. Trevett points to reports by Accenture that peg the global digital-economy opportunity at $24.6 billion by 2020 and IDC, which reported that 67 percent of CEOs in the global 2000 will have digital transformation as a core part of their corporate strategy by 2018.

He defines digital transformation as combining multiple new technologies in new ways to help a customer transform either their operating model or business model – to ultimately increase sales and customer loyalty – as well as to increase employee productivity and retention.

“Digital transformation with our customers will be driven through or with our partner ecosystem — along with Cisco innovation,” he acknowledged.

This requires change in the vendor’s go-to-market strategy, including new tools, frameworks and storytelling that exemplifies how partners win when they work together and how to change the way they engage.

“These examples help resellers understand how to be pulled into deals earlier, access new buyers, how to increase their relevancy within accounts, how to sell more services, and how to increase revenue, for example,” said Trevett, who noted that when partners work together, deal size grows by five to seven times.

Tools alone don’t address the fears that partners may have about …

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… working with multiple partners. Trevett agreed there are many obstacles to overcome as the vendor implements these new initiatives.

Some of the challenges he’s observed: helping partners find the opportunities and getting the introduction and connection with other ecosystem players; and, making the engagement work and work effectively once partners get over the skepticism.

“A big part of ACES is to do the swim-lane definition before you ever go on site at the customer,” he said. That means, prior to having any conversations with the customer, there’s alignment on who will play what role, who will have what type of relationship within the account, and who will deliver which part of the solution.

“Let’s define all of these things up front before we ever get in front of the customer so we don’t all look like idiots,” he explained.

The ACES tools are being made available to partners on a self-service basis and the company will also offer facilitation services to partners to help them learn how to use them. The company has already engaged in some high-touch ACES engagements on a pilot basis.

The development of acceleration-type programs was mentioned by Wendy Bahr, senior vice president of Cisco’s global partner organization, at Cisco Partner Summit 2016 in March, where the conference theme was “Powered by Partnerships.” At the upcoming Cisco Partner Summit in November, expect to hear more about ACES and other acceleration programs in the works at Cisco, Trevett said. The theme of the upcoming partner summit is “Full Speed.”


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