As IT buying decisions shift from traditional technology purchasers to managers in discrete business groups, providers are increasingly asked to explain their offerings in less technical, more business-focused terms.
The shift toward line-of-business technology sales is behind a new series of certifications from Cisco Systems. They aim to improve partners' ability to have higher-value, more structured and business-relevant conversations with customers.
The networking vendor this week rolled out three new Business Transformation Certifications for resellers looking to move beyond simple transactional technology sales toward solution selling that solves key business issues.
These could be related to automation, cost reduction, innovation, or transformation, and offer clear financial outcomes.
The new Cisco certifications are
Cisco Transformative Architecture Specialist;
Cisco Business Value Specialist; and
Cisco Certified Business Value Practitioner.
Training covers topics like identifying and engaging with the right stakeholders, understanding customer's business strategy and priorities, and using "strategic questioning" to discover a customer's pain points and opportunities.
There is also help in defining how Cisco architectures, Smart Solutions and services can deliver business-relevant results, and creating a business case, with clear explanation of benefits, investments, costs and risk.
"Customers are making purchase decisions based on integrated business offerings that provide competitive advantage, drive growth and enable their long-term strategic initiatives," said Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager for [email protected]
"To accelerate results, we are shifting our sales approach away from an emphasis on IT hardware.
"Individuals need to understand and develop sales and engagement models with a stronger focus on customer business leadership," said Beliveau-Dunn.
"We are committed to delivering the certification programs that afford learners the skills and knowledge to keep up with evolving practices."
Alan Sturgess, consultancy practice technology leader at UK reseller Computacenter, said the new emphasis on business outcomes has helped his firm build stronger relationships with clients.
"Cisco Business Transformation training provided a consolidated methodology for understanding business goals and translating them into technology roadmaps," Sturgess said. "This allowed us to address both the immediate and future business needs of the customer.
The techniques covered can be used whenever engineers or consultants are engaged with the customer, he added, and most technology deployments are ultimately about achieving an outcome for the customer organisation.
Training for the new Cisco certifications is available through Cisco Learning Partners with tests administered by the vendor's test delivery partner.
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