This past year we have been working on aligning, enabling, and accelerating partner success through distribution. We have led a successful year; despite the many challenges we have faced as a united society. Our success is more than just profitability, although that is vastly important and a key initiative for the new fiscal year, it’s also connecting families, enabling small businesses to keep the lights on, and doing our part to help millions get vaccinated.

Starting in FY22, we are still aiming to fuel partner success. Since I am not alone in this quest, I thought I’d bring in some of my team to talk about our key priorities. Here is Part 2:

Key Distribution Alignment Areas

To keep everything moving cohesively, our alignment priorities will be centered around programs like Power Your Edge (US and LATAM), Partner Journey, and Communities. Our Segment leads for CX and Small are fueling up for the road ahead. With that focus, I’d like to bring in Ryan Kingston, Director of Lifecycle Services for Americas Distribution, and Scott Parrillo, Business Development Manager for Small Business, to talk about our CX/Renewals and Small Business priorities.

Tha… [Ryan and Scott in unison] Haha!

Scott: You go ahead Ryan.

Ryan: Thanks, Scott! I am excited to talk about our Distribution CX/ Renewal’s priorities. We have come a long way in recent years and our strategy is only growing stronger.

Yes, it’s been quite a few years for both CX/Renewals and Small Business. That’s why I wanted to bring you both together. I think Cisco has forged ahead in both segments. Ryan, would you share more about what your priorities look like for the coming quarters?

Ryan: Yes, we talked not long ago about lifecycle advantage and how our Distributors can utilize these opportunities to grow their recurring revenue. We only want our renewals opportunities to grow. With the shifts to services, software, and post-sales services, customers need the innovation, agility, and financial planning renewals permits.

I think Scott would have to agree.

Scott: Yes, our Small Businesses need the advantages of renewals business for sure, but lifecycle support is also key. We want our Distributors to be super easy to work with, so they are more accessible to the smaller customer and the 2 Tier partners that sell to them. Tying back into renewals, Software as a Service (SaaS) is our big opportunity. The faster and simpler the better for our collective growth engine.

I know you both do so much for our Distributors, so Ryan, what is the biggest thing you want our Distributors to be on the lookout for in the coming months?

Ryan: We are scaling Enterprise Agreements (EA) and EA as a Service. We are working to make this easier and opening new opportunities.

I’m right there with you when it comes to making things easier. We are all devoted to Small Business, so, Scott, what should our Distributors have in mind?

Scott: On top of bridging into new routes to market like eStores or Partner E-Commerce sites for your Cisco Business and Meraki Go, we are looking to further develop partners through partner journey enablement. Our Distributors and Partners have untapped potential with the Partner Journey Dashboards. Meraki makes up more than 50% of business in Small with 2 Tier partners so our efforts are going to continue there, especially to managed service providers and the offering they have to support small business customers.

Thank you to you both for the outstanding leadership you provide for CX and Small. You both have really tapped into areas where our Distributors and their partners have the most opportunity. I’d now like to introduce Michael Perez, Director or Partner Operations, to talk about the Power Your Edge program.

Michael: Thanks! Power Your Edge is a program we started this past year to help foster better collaboration and strategic planning between Distributors and (v)PAMs for the benefit of their mutual Cisco partners.

I know this program has been a passion of yours. How are things going to continue into FY22?

Michael: We want a strong working collaboration between our partners, their Distributors, and Cisco. We want these initial partnerships to grow, and we want the collaboration between Distributors and (v)PAMs to become the standard operating model at Cisco. As we optimize these partnerships, and our Distributors and (v)PAMs really harness into what these Partners need, I’m hoping we’re not only able fuel their success, but be an influential piece of making a difference for their customers.

This has been a great start for this program, and we owe it to your efforts.


Business Acceleration

We have a few areas where we are striving to accelerate in FY22. As we move to the cloud, we can offer Best-in-class demos while using our portfolio of solutions to offer simplification, partner profitability, and API integration. Our priority is to invest in partners. This goal has not changed, but the way in which we go about it is constantly evolving. Your valued feedback, insight, and partnership is what enables us to simplify, solve for new problems, and increase profitability. Our motto is intertwined in everything we do.

Speaking of simplifying problems and increasing profitability, we have a whole focus on new routes to market. Amazon Marketplace isn’t necessarily a new buying platform for customers, but we are working to expand offers in a way that protects your business. To talk more about Amazon Marketplace, I have Scott Schweizer, Channel Manager, here to help us learn more.

Scott S.: Just to jump in, we will be, like you said, expanding offers on this very familiar buying platform to include software licensing, SmartNet, and Small Business Solutions.

With Cisco moving to a cloud experience, it is the perfect time to also start including software licensing on our Amazon Marketplace.

Scott S.: Yeah, the Meraki Launch is coming soon (Q1FY22) and things have been going well. We are working to ensure our customers can get the products they need, whether they’re product or software, when they need them. With the ease of buying on Amazon, this can be a great opportunity to expand Cisco’s brand to attract net new shoppers.

That’s very true. Integrating Cisco software onto this platform is an easy way to gain good exposure for what we can do.

I’d like to now introduce Amy Hodge, Sales Business Development Manager for Americas Distribution. Amy recently moved from managing our Enterprise Networking architecture to Managed Service Providers. Amy, I am excited to have you in Americas Managed Service Providers. Tell us where MSP is heading this coming year.

Amy: There’s a massive shift in customer demands for IT services. Customers want to consume technology in a pay-as-you-go and pay-as-you-grow business model regardless of the type of technology they need. Managed Service Provider partners are and have been stepping up to deliver technology in this way to their customers and Cisco is also stepping up to accelerate our capabilities and support our MS partners.

I love that this opportunity is driven by the needs of our customers and the alignment with how Cisco is supporting our partners. What role will our distributors play in accelerating our Managed Service Provider partners?

Amy: Our distributors are leading this transformation with us. We are aligned in focusing on Enablement and Sales Acceleration to support our current portfolio and drive future aaS offers with partners. Seems like a lot and it is, but we’re doing our best to make it as simple and straightforward as possible.

With the market shifting, we must go after those new opportunities. Thank you for your quick success in this new role! I look forward to where you will lead our MSP opportunity in distribution.


Building Team Development

One strategy we are putting more focus around for FY22 is helping our Distributors with developing their teams. To share more about this, I’d like to introduce Troy Helsen, one of our Managers for the Distribution Account Managers

Troy: At Cisco, team development is something we focus on. Talking to Distributors, we feel it’s equally important to extend this focus out to our Disti Business Partners. Business transformation is happening at an unprecedented rate, and to keep up, we must ensure our resources in the Distribution ecosystem either have or are developing the skills to continue driving world class enablement and growth for partners.

Fueling Partner Success.

Troy: Right, our motto extends out to the evolution of both technical and sales roles from traditional products and services to software, CX, and recurring revenue. These are just a few cases of where development of new skills and capabilities are critical to driving excellence and growth. Black Belt is just one example of an investment in enabling distribution to support the needs of the business for years to come.

I couldn’t agree with you more and I look forward to how you lead this new program for our Distributors. And I’m glad you mentioned Black Belt because our next guest knows all about it.

Troy: Our Most Valued Partnership

Last, but most certainly not least, we are invested in you, our Distributors. We are ever aware of your profitability needs. We hope as a company we shift to a greater software approach, still supporting our traditional tech stack, the number of renewals will grow. We know these changes to business take time and training, so I’d like to bring in Mark Jacobs, Systems Engineer for distributors and channel partners to talk about Black Belt Distribution Academy.

Mark: There is a lot of valuable training for our key solutions and programs, including Small Business and Customer Experience (CX). Our latest series of training includes sellers who are specialized in Managed Service Providers and Small Business.

With a group of solutions as comprehensive as Cisco’s, I know these trainings are valued. What is coming up in FY22?

Mark: Black Belt was developed as an enablement program to help our distributor teams keep their edge and stay sharp on growing business practices. With that in mind, Stage 2 offers specialized training curated for a Disti’s role – sellers, technical specialists, or CX specialists. These no cost training modules are all available on SalesConnect on a single interface. Also, each stage dives deeper into specific skills and capabilities required for further success.

I love how Black Belt is really enabling our Distributors by fueling them with this tiered approach to training through Cisco’s tech stack. Thank you for your expertise and walking us through the latest advancements in Black Belt. Shifting gears slightly, I’d like to bring in our Americas Distribution Sales Program Manager, Steven Foster to talk through Distribution programs and Vanessa Chet, Senior Manager of Americas Distribution.

Steven: Hey! We’re working toward a seamless, profitable digital buying experience for our Distributors and VAR partners, which means we must make the right strategic investments. Our focus must be on aligning our investments to strategic priorities and growth opportunities within distribution.

Vanessa: From an architecture perspective we are going to foster tighter collaboration with distributors, partners, and Cisco field teams to support those priorities. By increasing the capabilities within our distributors and partners, we are in a better position to support the entire lifecycle by architecture.

I like the growth opportunities and how we are looking at aligning our investments. What we’re focusing on needs to match up with Distribution and between the architecture and programs team, I think we’re in a good position for FY22.

Steven: We’ve seen a lot of transformation these past months and we’re also looking at how to support and deliver new routes to market through Distribution. That means we need to SIMPLIFY our tools and processes, so the experience is seamless for partners.

Vanessa: Absolutely, Steve and I are really focused on enabling those new Routes to Market, sales motions, and consumption models and doing it through distribution. I also couldn’t agree more on simplifying. When our priorities are simplified, we can focus more on driving cross architecture opportunities and expanding that practice across Cisco’s tech stack for all partner types.

I greatly appreciate you both and your drive to fuel partner success across the architecture and programs strategies.

As you can see, here on the Americas Distribution team, we are excited about this coming fiscal year and looking forward to the amazing things we will accomplish together. I am eager to have more in depth conversations with you all and see how we plan to continue better than ever to Fuel Partner Success.


Check out part one of my blog:

Cheers, Saúde, Salud and Santé to a Fresh Start in FY22


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John Brookbank

Vice President, Americas Distribution

WW Partner Sales