A unification of its services partner programme and a scheme designed for mid-market partners were the headline moves on a busy first morning of the Cisco Partner Summit.
The global channel get-together, taking place in San Diego this week, was the scene for the unveiling of the Partner Plus programme designed specifically for resellers targeting the mid-market space. Andrew Sage, Cisco's vice president of partner led, told attendees that the scheme will be built around three key tenets: preference, support and investment.
Partners joining the programme will benefit from marketing funding, customer intelligence and training. A pre-sales engineering service is also being launched exclusively for Partner Plus members. An incentive programme will also be put in place.
At your service
Also unveiled today was the Cisco Services Partner Programme, which brings 47 disparate schemes under one overarching architecture. The scheme will be built around the same "front-end discount, back-end rebate" principles as long-standing product resale schemes.
Nick Earle, senior vice president of Cisco services sales and channels, told partners: "You said you wanted our services programmes to look and feel like the ones you already use."
Partners will be able to work under the scheme as a services reseller, or as a collaborative services provider, earning quarterly rebates of up to 24 and 32 per cent, respectively.
Cloud was, predictably, another big talking point this morning. Cisco unveiled its latest Master accreditation, for Cloud Builder partners. The vendor also announced that its Managed Services Cisco Partner scheme will be merged with the Cloud Partner Programme, which was unveiled at last year's global partner shindig.
For the last two years Cisco has been migrating its partner programme from solution- to architecture-based specialisations. Edison Peres (pictured), vice president of worldwide channels, explained that the networking giant wants to ensure VARs are getting the most out of the new badges.
"Many of your salespeople - not all - are having difficulty in being able to articulate the value of an architectural-based sale," he explained.
With this in mind, the vendor is launching the Enablement Architecture Sales Excellence (EASE) programme for channel sales heads. Resellers holding at least one architecture specialisation can now take advantage of training for up to 10 salespeople per country.
Invest for success
Peres also unveiled a philosophy dubbed Return on Cisco, which will see the vendor doing what it can to ensure partners are attractive to investors and potential acquirers. The channel boss claimed he had previously puzzled over why some VARs sold for one or two times EBITA, while some fetched eight or nine times EBITA.
Conversations with investment professionals and VARs have led Peres to believe acquirers of channel companies are looking at four key factors with which Cisco can help: operating profit; growth potential; business risk; and sustainability.
"We are going to absorb this as a framework [in terms of] how we add even greater value for you," he said. "[Ten years ago] it was about [product] profitability, then it was more about [building] your Cisco practice. Now we want to drive your economic valuation, [as] measured from an investor's point of view, in addition to supporting your profitability."
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