Cisco Blogs

Building a Profitable Small Business Practice: Video Chat Recap

- April 7, 2010 - 2 Comments

Yesterday, we held a live, interactive video broadcast via UStream with Andrew Sage, VP WW Small Business Sales, and Lief Koepsel, Director of Service Marketing, on Building a Profitable Small Business Practice.

The broadcast was directed toward our Small Business channel partners and discussed what partners can do before, during, and after a sale to maximize profitability. Then, we took viewer questions from Twitter and Facebook and answered them on the air.

If you missed our first broadcast, worry not! This is the first of many broadcasts we’ll be holding using UStream and we have quite a few planned for Partner Summit (in the Channels Buzz community) with key Cisco executives.

Click play button in the embedded video below to watch the replay and hear answers to the audience questions we took during the broadcast. And join our Advantage Now! partner event by visiting the virtual event registration page or the live event registration page and sign up to attend either event on April 14 where you’ll learn about building momentum in small business. (More details in the written recap.)

Video streaming by Ustream

For a written recap of yesterday’s video chat, continue reading…

LIEF:  Let’s start with presales work and identifying customers needs.

Do your homework, not all problems are problems that you want to or can solve. A successful, high margin solution provider; 1) begins early in the process and 2) ensures early-on if this particular engagement is worthwhile.

Best-in-class solution providers are more effective at selling because they go beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to deeply qualify both business technology need and readiness to buy.

ANDREW: How Cisco solves customers needs…

From a Cisco perspective, we have three product lines that can help solve a customer’s need. The right solution for the right customer at the right moment will help you optimize the amount of time you spend up front.

LIEF:  Another point to be aware of during presales is that partners invest more earlier in the sales cycle.

The solution-centric partner is engaged as much as four months earlier. This requires a stronger understanding of what you are selling…

The more project (solutions) centric you become, the earlier in the sales cycle you engage. You have to do this, in order to participate in – and even catalyze – the solutioning process.

ANDREW:  Cisco resources to help you understand and align to the customer

Understand how your proposed solution will align with the customer. What is the need? How do they do it today?

The more time spent up front in this step will translate to greater profitability for you and greater value to the customer.

Cisco provides:

LIEF:  During the purchase, solution-centric customers expend less on sales costs.

When your margins are thin and you’ve got to focus on superior sales resources to get every cent, your cost of sales as a percentage of sales will be significantly higher than those that are focus on solutions.

Best-in-class solution providers spend fewer gross margin dollars on sales costs and sales admin costs. Don’t spend your time in sales costs. Sales costs go down as one is implementing solutions.

ANDREW:  Cisco has great resources for quotes and financing.

More data means better sales process, lower sales costs. In the longer sales cycle, one has the ability to gather more data and ensure that the customer is getting the right things

Using Cisco resources can minimize the time spent doing pricing, preparing quotes and arranging financing.

LIEF: After the sale, don’t forget about maintenance and optimization.

Solutions-centric partners tend to leave support revenue on the table. The earlier a partner engages with the customer, the lower the risk for the customer and the greater the opportunity for margin for the partner. That only covers the first 20% of the deal…

Best-in-class solution providers know that — over the five-year lifetime of an IT asset — 80% of what their customers spend on the asset comes after implementation, in the form of support and optimization. But many a solution provider leaves this opportunity on the table.

ANDREW:  Cisco has several service offerings to ensure your customer is covered.

The following Cisco offerings enable the Solutions-Centric partner to capitalize on this opportunity and ensure your customer is covered.

If you don’t cover that customer, someone else will and begin to encroach on your account.

Use these service offerings as the basis of a stronger, full-service maintenance offering to the customer. Next business day hardware replacement, software updates, and complete phone support are three critical deliverables of the Small Business Pro Service.

ANDREW: If this topic is of interest to you, please join our Advantage Now! Event next week.

Our virtual and live event called Advantage Now! is all about building momentum in Small Business. You’ll get the tools, tips, sales and technical information that you need for a substantial sales advantage.  So if you are interested in attending the event, visit the virtual event registration page or the live event registration page and sign up to attend either event on April 14.

If you are interested in learning more about our work with Service Leadership on Small Business Partner Services please visit the SB Partner Services site.


What small business questions do you have for Andrew and Lief? Post them here and they may cover it in an upcoming broadcast or blog post.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Good stuff, we got some valuable tips to include in our customers' business plans.

  2. Very informative. Thank you.