Cisco has introduced a channel partner programme that provides its resellers with a software component designed to integrate Cisco's CallManager Express IP telephony application with Microsoft's CRM software.
The CRM Express Specialisation is designed to offer Cisco resellers an improved CRM package, which they can use to target new and existing small-business customers, particularly those looking to manage their sales efficiently by integrating IP telephony features more closely.
The software is based on Cisco's CRM Communications Connector and was created with plenty of technical support from Microsoft, according to Cisco. It essentially puts Cisco's IP telephony interface into the Microsoft CRM application.
It will provide end-users with a number of integrated features, such as screen popping, which causes a window to appear automatically in CRM when a customer call comes into the CallManager Express system, and automated call record creation, as well as 'click to dial' and call duration tracking.
Nick Evans, business manager for mobility and Microsoft at VAR IT Partnerships, believes channel partners need all the help they can get to sell CRM, given the effort that needs to go into each sale, the length of the sales cycle and the degree of customisation usually involved.
"Partners selling Microsoft CRM say it is a difficult package to sell, because a lot of tailoring needs to be done," he said. "Doing a deal like this probably makes it easier for Microsoft to get CRM into the market, while Cisco could get new customers [for CallManager Express]."
Tim Stone, EMEA marketing manager for IP communications and security at Cisco, said current CallManager Express resellers are under no obligation to use the connector, but pointed out that there are advantages to be gained from doing so.
These include earning 10 points towards Cisco's channel partner certification status, the benefits of joint Cisco/Microsoft marketing and events, and collaboration with other resellers to help offer joint solutions.
"Partners can download the connector for free and teach themselves how to use it online, but the preferred route is to qualify for the CRM Express Specialisation, and have a sales guy and a couple of technical people trained on it," Stone said.
Chief exec Jens Montanana claims Logicalis performed well despite 'currency headwinds'
All the photos from last night's event, which saw over 600 people congregate at the Hilton London Bankside
Five year deal with Essex NHS Trust will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices
18 individuals and three companies walked away as winners at CRN's inaugural Women in Channel Awards last night