It may seem harsh to say you need to break out of your cocoon, but it is meant as a compliment!!  Metamorphosis is often used as an analogy for change, and the cocoon stage is the stage of transformation from a caterpillar to butterfly.   The reason for this analogy is I think the top sales leaders at Cisco and our partners are all going through transformation.  The common theme that comes up when I talk to technology salespeople is they want to understand how they can improve and transform their selling skills to become more relevant to Line of Business (LOB) buyers.

It is clear that LOB buyers are increasingly influencing or owning technology decisions, so to remain relevant we must connect the technology buyers we traditionally call on to the business buyer.   However, salespeople often call on many different types of customers and you can’t be an expert in every customer’s business.  That means there’s a Catch-22:  We know that selling “speeds and feeds” will not give us the edge in new deals, but we can’t all be business consultants either!

To assist in solving this dilemma, Cisco’s Partner Industry Transformation team has been creating some tools to guide you on your journey as you learn to help your customers identify and achieve their business outcomes.  The objective of these tools is to give you a JUST ENOUGH industry information so you can become a “master connector” for your customers’ business and technology teams.  These tools put you in front of the deal so you can shape the opportunity to your advantage!

In this blog, I would like to introduce you to one of those tools –  the Cisco Industry Quick Selling Guides (QSGs).  These guides give you everything you need to bridge the gap between IT and the LOB.  The first thing I want to call out are these guides are SHORT!  They are ONE PAGE.  I’ll grant that there is printing on the front and back so you could argue that is two pages but I think when you check them out you’ll agree they are pretty short.

Even though the Industry QSGs are short, they are jam-packed with the information you need so you can feel more confident and ready to open a business conversation that is relevant to the customer.  Take a look at the picture below and I will break it down for you.

The example QSG I’m sharing here is for the manufacturing industry, but we have built QSGs for you covering Retail, Healthcare, Financial Services, Transportation, Smart Cities, Oil & Gas, Media, Sports and Entertainment, Education, and Utilities.  The QSGs are all color-coded by industry and many of them cover specific solutions you are already selling in Enterprise Networking, Data Center, and Collaboration.  The example above shows you how to pitch data center solutions to manufacturing customers.

All the Industry Quick Selling Guides have the same format so the content is easy to find.  The QSGs are broken out in the following sections:  The front side of the page gives you the “lay of the land” of the customers business and the back side transitions from business to technology so you can be the guide for your customer’s LOB and Technology teams as they go through Digital Transformation.

Front Side (Industry landscape)

  • Benefits and Business Outcomes – What the LOB buyer cares about
  • Buying Events – Business activity that drives technology spend – be the first one at the table
  • Buyer Profiles – Learn your customer LOB “careabouts” and understand their typical KPI

Back Side (Guided Sales Journey Connecting the Business to the Technology you Sell)

  • Elevator Pitch – In the example data center for manufacturing
  • Industry Conversation Starters
  • Objection Handling
  • Cisco Solutions (i.e. what you sell) and potential competitors
  • Cisco Differentiation
  • Learn more – Links where you can look up more detail if you want

Digital Transformation is happening across all industries and you have a limited window of opportunity to capture customer spend as they digitize their business.  The salespeople who have a little bit more business knowledge (JUST ENOUGH!) will differentiate themselves and their organization from competitors.

To take advantage of this content, go to the Industry Transformation Partner Guide in SalesConnect at http://cs.co/customerin and look under the “Industries” tab.  You will find all the industries listed and click on the industry tab you want to check out.  There you find the Quick Selling Guides as well as other industry resources that may be of interest to you.

I want to close the blog by encouraging you to continue on your sales transformation journey.   The salespeople who continue with “Caterpillar Selling” focusing on “speeds and feeds” will not achieve the rewards (in commissions and customer trust) of those sellers who “break out of the cocoon”  and drive industry transforming solutions with Cisco.

Good Selling!


Paul Buehler

Senior Business Development Manager, Strategy, Planning and Programs

Global Partner Organization, Digital Transformation and Industries