Last week I traveled down to New Orleans, the Big Easy, to present to members of our Partner Operations Advisory Board (POAB) about how Cisco communicates with them. Given this group of more than 30 US and Canada channel partner representatives started the day at 8 a.m., I figured my coveted 3:30 to 5 p.m. slot had assured me a quick preso with an occasional nod of the head followed by a groan or two — complete communication synergy between us and our partners. But, like the great advisors they are, this group knew this was an opportunity to be heard and so the screaming began. OK, it wasn’t that bad at all and I only had one sharp object thrown at me. In the end, we had a great discussion about how Cisco can improve its communication to partners.Communications was one of the many topics of discussion during our gathering in New Orleans. Check back tomorrow for a video featuring a variety of partner feedback we received at POAB.In the meantime, I’ve identified a list of the key communications takeaways after the jump. Here are my key takeaways.
- Email isn’t the only or even the best communication vehicle and yet it appears to be Cisco’s most popular way to communicate with us.
- When we send communications to our partners we should “flag it by audience,” meaning: Who is the intended audience? Is this an executive message? A marketing message? A sales message? Or a technical message?
- Create a partner communications archive that is easy to search. One partner said, “Cisco could never meet my communication needs because the reality is…I don’t know what I need until I need it, but if I could search an archive, that would be very helpful.”
- Allow partners to select how to receive communication from Cisco (blog, Twitter, email, newsletter, texting, etc…) and then communicate to them using only that vehicle.
- Make content relevant to the partner. One partner said, “I get too many emails from Cisco clearly written for the end customer. If I have to translate customer speak into partner actions, I won’t read it, and it will simply wait for my Channel Account Manager to call and ask me if and/or why it is important.”
Bottom line, while we aren’t terrible when it comes to communicating to partners, we aren’t world-class either, so it’s time to make some changes. The list above is just a sample of some of the great ideas I received from our Partner Operation Advisory Board, but I welcome your feedback as well. How can Cisco improve its communication to partners?