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Pre-Sales Prospecting and Marketing: The New Partner Enablement Imperatives

This post is the third in a series we’re featuring from Beth Vanni, Vice President of Amazon Consulting. Amazon Consulting is a partnering services firm dedicated to helping companies elevate the impact of partnering. Beth has over 25 years of experience in technology sales and marketing, with a specialty focus on partnering strategies and supporting operational plans.

Vendors have long sought the attention, investment, and loyalty of channel partners for one primary reason — to expand market reach. The promise of new projects and new customers has been not the only driver in forging vendor/channel partnerships, but it has been a key one.

With the current economic climate, vendors have been forced to look at their partners’ skill sets and business model holistically, with the aim to have the right balance of technical skills, sales and prospecting skills, marketing acumen, and service delivery skills.  But what combination of these competencies makes a solution provider most adept at driving new business?

In Amazon Consulting’s Annual State of Partnering Study, the last two years’ worth of results from over 100 global IT vendors indicate that increasing partners’ sales skills is a big focus for vendors.  Specifically, vendors are looking to improve the overall channel’s skills in two areas — the ability to do effective pre-sales prospecting and the ability to sell business value to line-of-business decision makers.

Technical training and certification programs are now the staple of many vendors’ formal value-based channel programs – those that recognize partner contribution beyond just sales volume.  They are the basis for how most partners earn recognition, rewards and further support from their leading vendors.  And specialization programs focusing on multi-product solutions and industry skills have taken that idea to the next level.

But recently, many vendors with highly-evolved technical certification programs have realized that technical acumen alone does not necessarily translate to partner profitability. So what has changed?

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3 Easy Social Media Conversation Starters

How connected are you with your social networks? Are you finding that at times, your social channels become stale or a one-way dialog? If you’re experiencing the “silent treatment”, here are some easy ways to generate two-way conversations.

Tweet or post questions and polls: Events, activities, and launches have a unique opportunity to educate as well as create excitement and energy. Develop creative ways to poll audiences about related topics. And don’t be afraid to mix in a few casual types of questions that pertain to the event, but might be lighter in nature.

Interactions: Social media has a lot to offer to marketers. One special feature of social media is the ability to crowdsource and strengthen loyalty. Monitor social media channel feeds closely, respond quickly, and keep feeding the streams. Simple questions such as “What did you think of the keynote?” or “What interests you the most about this program?” will help start conversations. You’ll be amazed at how much audiences want to share their opinions and information.

Contests: While audiences are primarily interested in the straight forward information and updates, they often like to get involved in other types of activities. Using social channels, offer different types of contests and incentive-based opportunities. These activities do not have to have monetary values, but do need to have perceived importance. For example, preferred seating at a keynote or a meet-and-greet opportunity.

These are just some quick examples of ways to start social interactions. The key to making these ideas work is to integrate social channels together and with the rest of the marketing communications plan. Having a central “hub” like an online community or a website, will help audience members navigate all of the information and discussions more easily.

What are some creative ways you are starting conversations using social media? Share your experiences and let’s keep the social media information sharing going. And follow  my Twitter handle (@elhoust) for more social media for events best practices.

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Technology Buyers are Increasingly Social

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buying process is now completed before the prospect is ready to speak with a sales representative. This means that marketing is moving further into the buying process as the prospective buyer uses new – and decidedly online – sources of information instead of a relationship with a sales professional to guide their purchasing decisions.

As B2B marketers we know it’s important to leverage social media as part of our marketing efforts and most of us are. However, it’s more important to pay attention to how our target buyers’ online behavior is changing overtime. How do IT professionals leverage social networks? What sources of content influence their purchase decisions?  Do IT professionals have a preference for certain formats of content over others? 

Answers to these questions can be found in the 2011 Toolbox.com/PJA Social Media Index. Read More »

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A Simpler Cisco: New Articles Cover Changes, Partner Profitability

It’s no secret that we’re looking to simplify things at Cisco, streamline, provide stronger marketing support for partners, and increase partners’ profitability. 

Now, new in-depth coverage from CRN gives more detail around the changes based on discussions with Rob Lloyd, EVP of Cisco’s WW Operations.

Here’s a quick recap and links to the coverage:

Cisco Gets Back To Business
Years from now, Cisco Systems’ landmark restructuring could be viewed as a highly profitable sales game changer that effectively squelched the rising competitive threat from from aggressive competitors like Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks, and Brocade.

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Social Media Spotlight: Top 10 Tips for Setting Up the Perfect Video




So, we’ve covered how to get started in social media. We’ve offered you blogging tips and a video walking you through how to craft a great blog entry. Now it’s time to help you put together polished, professional videos that you can feature prominently on your website to help amplify your company’s message and entice customers.

Our expert on this topic is Andrew Phillips, co-anchor of our Partner Update newscasts and our Cisco Channels go-to video guy. Andrew knows his way backward and forward in Final Cut Pro. And, he’s staged and filmed countless videos that we feature here on the Cisco Channels blog and elsewhere.

According to Andrew, nothing can ruin a video more than poor setup. If you invest some time and thought in lighting, staging, and audio, your video will come out so much better than if you just shoot in front of a window without regard to your light source, or if you film outside with loud cars driving by that drown out your audio.

Want to put Andrew’s tricks to use in your videos? Here are his Top 10 Tips for Setting Up the Perfect Video. Read More »

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