Cisco Gives Channel Partners a Boost

Cisco Systems threw a lifeline to its Channel Partners Thursday in the form of several new profit-boosting initiatives.

With more than 90 percent of Cisco’s business being generated from its Channel Partner Program, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking king has a vested interested in the program’s success and profitability.

According to Paul Mountford, vice president Worldwide Channels for Cisco, the new initiatives were announced at last year’s Partner Summit in August and are now being implemented.

Among the new initiatives up for adoption are enhancements to eAgent, a program that allows U.S.-enrolled Channel Partners to receive compensation for acting as Cisco sales agents.

Cisco has revised the eAgent program to now include a “neutral” pricing structure, which means that those who are currently enrolled in the program will no longer be charged administrative fees.

In a pointed effort to boost access to the small and medium-size business (SMB) market, Cisco has launched the Growing with Technology Solutions initiative that can be offered to SMB customers looking to build on their networks with more full-service, end-to-end network solutions, including routing and switching, security, IP communications, and mobility solutions.

Cisco also launched a three-step training program called Sales Training for Exceptional Performance that teaches Channel Partners about the fundamentals of selling solutions and becoming skilled business advisers.

The course consist of Consultative Selling, Selling Value, and Territory Management and will be offered to Cisco Channel Partners for free through Cisco’s training source, the Partner E-Learning Connection.

Other new boosters for Channel Partners include a Collateral Builder program to increase marketing productivity.

Collateral Builder is an automated marketing tool that enables Channel Partners to create customized print and electronic marketing material for trade shows, e-mail blasts, and all other types of marketing campaigns without having to come up with the associated fees.

Cisco has also begun using the ROIC (return-on-invested-capital) business success metric, which will enable Cisco to measure the impact its programs and initiatives have on ROIC.

According to Cisco, the ROIC is applicable to all Channel Partners regardless of their business model and can be used to measure the impact of Cisco’s new and former service initiatives.

Channel Partners can also use the ROIC metric to choose which initiatives are best suited for their financial success.

“Cisco can use this model to evaluate the financial health of channel partners and make recommendations to what actions will have the most significant ROIC impact,” the company said.

And finally, Cisco Systems Capital, a third-party finance partner and subsidiary of Cisco Systems, will now offer competitive options for long-term or short-term leasing, secure and longer-term credit lines, IP-communications, bundled services, and demo lab equipment, one of the more substantial investments Channel Partners are required to make in order to maintain their certification and specializations.

According to Cisco, by the second half of 2003, Cisco Systems Capital is planning to implement a Demo Lab Equipment Leasing Program, which will allow Channel Partners to choose leasing options for not-for-resale demonstration lab equipment under specified terms.

Earlier this week, Cisco went live with a new portal specifically designed to enhance the way the company interacts with Channel Partners.

The Cisco Partner View was brought to life because many Channel Partners had previously had difficulty finding information on Cisco’s Website, the company said. The new portal is designed as a complete source for application data and direct Channel Partner information.

The Partner View has been accessible to only a limited number of Cisco partners over the past year, and according to Cisco, will be made more widely available by August 2003.

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