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Are You Talking with the Right Buying Center?

- February 28, 2018 - 2 Comments

In my November 2017 blog “Selling Higher—Changing Our Selling Motion for Better Customer Outcomes,” you heard me talk about how important it is for Cisco and our reseller partners to change how we sell and with whom we sell to capture more budget for digital transformation projects. I also said that working with ecosystem partners (ISVs and boutique systems integrators) is the key to reaching line of business (LOB) stakeholders, who own much of the budget for digital transformation projects.

But LOBs are just one kind of digital stakeholder we have to reach. As we learned from our partner event feedback last Fall, it’s important that we engage ALL of the potential buying centers. Let’s unpack this concept of a buying center, and why it’s important.

If you take a broader look at who drives the projects in an account, those decision-makers are in multiple buying centers within an organization—such as Risk Management, HR, Marketing, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, DevOps, Applications, or Operational Technology (OT). In the past, Cisco and our resellers have been primarily engaged with IT who owned the budget for buying hardware, software and services. However as technology budgets move outside IT, we have to find these other buying centers and get a seat at the table.

Once we’re at the table, we need to have the right conversation with these stakeholders. However in order to be credible in these conversations, we need to be able to do more than simply speak their language. In his book The Speed of Trust, author Stephen M. R. Covey outlines four “cores” that are key to building credibility with customers: integrity, intent, capabilities, and results. It’s the third and fourth cores that stump IT sales folks who are trying to sell business outcomes to other buying centers outside of IT. In other words, customers want to buy from sales teams that already know their pain points and who have proven results solving similar problems for other customers. Although IT sales people can attend training to increase their knowledge (capabilities), training alone doesn’t provide the experience (results) that these buying centers seek. That’s why our best sellers and reseller partners are bringing in other ecosystem partners that have trusted relationships and, most importantly, proven experience in past projects to land deals with these new buyers.

At Cisco Live Melbourne next week, I’ll be presenting on this topic as part of an Ecosystem Partner Connections session (during Partner Xperience) on Wednesday, March 7. If you’re planning to attend Cisco Live Melbourne, sign up for Partner Xperience to see how you can drive more business relevance to digital transformation. Whether you’re a reseller or an ecosystem partner, you’ll learn how we can all engage better to access new buying centers, expand our deal size, and win together.

See you in Melbourne!


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    more I read, murkier it gets ... :-)

    What is your analysis in complex buyer organization .. where every function has an embedded and integrated technical function.... where business looks at it technically, where technology looks at it technically of course and also sourcing looks at it technically .. then where do you draw the lines, and what is the strategy adopted ? Totally agree on the 4 cores - integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.