In a previous blog, we wrote about the expanding partnership between Cisco and ecosystem partner Imagicle and touched upon the availability of Imagicle Black Belt Academy training. Today, I’m excited to share a few more details about the training— the first global partner training available in the program—and invite other ecosystem partners to create their own Black Belt Academy courses.

Sales portal approach lacks a streamlined approach to learning

Cisco traditionally educates its sellers through a sales portal. Here, Cisco sellers can find a ton of useful product and technical documents about Cisco and Cisco ecosystem partners’ products and solutions. With content from this sales portal, sellers can check out the available information and create their own stories to tell customers.

Yet, although there is a lot of great content on the sales portal, it can be arduous for partners to browse through literally thousands of different documents, attempting to piece together relevant Cisco and ecosystem partner stories. The unfortunate consequence is that sales opportunities have likely been lost simply because partners were not being effectively enabled to tell many highly differentiated Cisco and ecosystem partner stories.

Cisco knew it needed a fresher approach to enabling its direct and partner sellers. This is especially true given today’s rapid pace of change, which means that Cisco must equip its sellers quickly and efficiently with the knowledge they need to respond to their customers’ growing business demands.

Enter Black Belt Academy

In response to this challenge, Cisco realized it needed to bring to market an enablement framework that provides on-demand, self-paced training so that sales and presales personnel can learn about and leverage the best and latest about Cisco’s value proposition.

At a high level, the objective of Black Belt Academy is to teach sellers the skills they need to have richer interactions with customers—interactions that ultimately lead to selling the next wave of digital transformation solutions.

Telling Cisco portfolio stories

Cisco launched the Black Belt academy globally in 2019, initially providing education about Cisco portfolio products such as Unified Communications Manager Cloud (UCM Cloud), Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), Webex, and Jabber. To provide context: In Q3CY20 alone, more than 35,000 Black Belt certifications were awarded across the Cisco global partner community.

Add ecosystem partners to learning journeys

The next step in this educational journey is to tell the highly differentiated stories of Cisco ecosystem partners that wrap around Cisco products to deliver even more value to our mutual customers.

For instance, a partner might take a UCM Cloud Black Belt course. The next natural question is: What else can this partner position to its customers around UCM Cloud to provide additional value? Well, Imagicle is a certified winning answer.

The Imagicle Black Belt Course

Leveraging the Black Belt Academy, Cisco and ecosystem partner Imagicle created a virtual course that enables partners to expand their knowledge of the joint Cisco and Imagicle value proposition. This course helps partners further differentiate their UCM Cloud offer in the market, ultimately paving the way to increased sales of this joint solution.

Imagicle provides the most complete suite of unified communications applications available for any Cisco calling platform. Relevant for companies of all sizes and industries, the Imagicle ApplicationSuite makes available—through the Cisco Global Price List (GPL)—a number of different unified communications applications: Call Recording, Attendant Console with Advanced Queueing and Auto Attendant, Call Accounting with Budget Control and Phone Lock features, Advanced Directories, IP Fax Server, and Hospitality Services. These products provide a breadth of capabilities that customers can add to their deployed suite as their unified communication needs grow. They are available on premises, hosted, or in the cloud.

Telling this story can be complicated, especially when learning it from product documentation found in a sales portal. The Imagicle team discovered, for example, that sellers tend to focus more on specific details and functionality rather than holistic transformation. That is, other vendors might provide certain capabilities, but only Imagicle could paint the picture of additional benefits.

Creating a Black Belt course met this challenge. The Imagicle Black Belt course takes partners through three progressive learning stages of guided interactions that mimic a face-to-face class. In essence, these interactions walk partners through real sales plays.

Sales and presales tracks

The Imagicle Black Belt course consists of two tracks: A sales track designed to help salespeople and a presales track that dives more deeply into the technical portions of the Cisco and Imagicle story.

Both the sales and presales tracks contain video presentations and assessment quizzes that cover how to sell Imagicle in concert with Cisco portfolio products. The sales track is estimated to take eight hours to complete, and the presales track should take approximately 12 hours.

The result is partners can spend one to two hours a day over a week or two to get completely trained on how best to position Imagicle’s value proposition with our partners.

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Create your own Black Belt course

With more than 35,000 partner certifications completed in one quarter alone, it’s apparent that Cisco partners have caught on to the Black Belt Academy’s tremendous value. So, if you’re a Cisco ecosystem partner, I invite you to learn more about creating a Black Belt course that will enable Cisco’s robust community of 70,000+ partners to better position your product alongside a Cisco solution.



Nick Larison

Business Development Manager - Americas

Americas Partner Organization