In part one of this blog, I discussed the benefits and challenges of bringing to market and selling IOT solutions that are composed of hardware, software and services from multiple companies to deliver digital transformation. Over the last few years, there have been many discussions of digital transformation on the topics of vision, strategy, competition, and threats, but there have been very few, if any, proven approaches put forward describing how to effectively bring these complex multi-partner IOT solutions to market and sell them.
Accelerating Cisco Ecosystem Sales (ACES) provides a proven methodology that squarely answers these challenges. In this blog, I will describe ACES, how it works, provide proof points from actual ACES engagements, and explain how you can get started today.
What is ACES?
ACES is Cisco’s proven framework for selling multi-partner IOT solutions that enables us to align several partner sales teams, avoid unpleasant surprises, and accelerate the delivery of value to our customers. ACES assumes that a solution owner has previously created a solution that is at least 60% to 100% ready to go to market, and that they have previously secured buy-in from one or more sales leaders.
ACES is a three-step model managed by a trained ACES facilitator that includes these steps: Alignment, Activation and Action. It does NOT facilitate building solutions, but instead focuses on the go-to-market and sales. We designed and created ACES to enable Cisco and our partner sales teams to overcome the obstacles of selling a digital IOT solution by using a predictable, repeatable and proven sales model with built-in governance that drives accountability.
Here is how it works:
Facilitation – A trained ACES Specialist is assigned to offload the sales team from having to manage the multiple partner interactions, and takes them through the following three steps.
Step 1: Alignment – We assemble the core solution team members to include Cisco, value added resellers, ISVs, SIs and consulting partners who have contributed to the solution or will contribute to its sales process. We ensure that the solution is ready to go-to-market, and align all partners on how we will sell together based on simple but concrete and proven tools.
Step 2: Activation – We select one territory, for example a city, and then bring together all of the first line sales managers from each partner that will be involved in the sales process. We educate these sales managers on the solution, gain their agreement to sell the solution in their territory, select a list of accounts, and prioritize these accounts based on a proven selection criteria from the tools.
Step 3: Action – We bring together the sales teams from the relevant partners for the territory selected. We educate these sales teams on the solution, get their agreement on the prioritized accounts, and create a simple, but joint go-to-market sales plan for each account based the tools. View my six-minute presentation that summarizes ACES.
The ACES program and the drive by the Cisco ecosystem team to focus on ‘customer in selling’ are great tools to be able to hit the ground running.
-Steve White, IDC Program VP of Channels & Alliances
Over the past 13 months, Cisco has conducted over 30 joint ACES digital solution engagements with more than 50 Cisco partners.
These worldwide engagements have shown that ACES delivers better IOT enterprise solutions to customers faster. That’s because there is a predictable sales model with accountability that ensures the solution is ready to sell, and defines and gains agreement on the role each partner will play BEFORE the teams arrive at a customer’s doorstep. Using the ACES tools, each step incorporates each partner’s knowledge and experience. In essence, the framework provides the joint sales team with a road-map, but the team drives the car. The sales team stays in control as they accelerate together to close the deal.
Cisco and CenturyLink teamed up and used ACES to bring to market a CenturyLink solution named Digital Data Platform (DDP). Team collaboration and systematic approach of the ACES program allowed Cisco and CenturyLink to reduce the go-to-market timeframe of the DDP solution by at least 9 months.
-Mahesh Dalvi, VP IT Services at CenturyLink
Get Started Today
As the digital world accelerates and companies embrace digital transformation, we need to sell IOT solutions differently! We need to learn how to sell collections of products and services from numerous companies that are integrated into digital IOT solutions if we are to remain relevant to our customers’ digital transformation needs. Cisco ACES provides this framework.
If you want to learn more about ACES and you are a Cisco partner, go to Continuous Learning. Also, partners can read more details about ACES in this ACES White Paper. Finally, for further information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and good selling,
ACES Program Manager