Starting customer meetings with business outcome discussions sounds great in theory. But how much difference does it really make? A huge difference. Here’s how it works.

Figure 1 Las Vegas
Engaged customers participating in a VIP Booth Tour at Interop Las Vegas

For the past year, a small, innovative team has been engaging customers in new ways at several large Cisco events. Essentially, we’ve been turning our technology-centric approach on its head and beginning hundreds of customer meetings with a business priority discussion.

Of course, we always get to the technology, but by starting with some very clear customer-centric goals for each meeting, the engagement processes – and results – have improved dramatically. Since the program inception at CiscoLive! Milan last January, the number of qualified leads per event has increased by 27 percent, and average deal size has increased by 70 percent. Customer satisfaction scores have also gone up, so there are many clear benefits to this approach for everyone selling Cisco solutions.

Solution is the key word here. All these benefits hinge on addressing key business priorities for each customer, and mapping them to group of corresponding Cisco (and sometimes third party) products and services. Naturally, partner services and differentiation can also be part of this experience, so we encourage you to contact us to in the comments area below to discuss how your value add can be incorporated.

George Williams from CDW share his feedback on the VIP Booth Tours at CIscoLive! San Francisco

The first phase of this pilot program is called VIP Booth Tours, and the process is simple. At all major events, we begin each tour by asking the customer what their organization’s top 3 business priorities are. We’ve already asked more than 3,000 customers this question as part of our Cisco Business and IT Survey, so we have this data for many industries. We’ve also made this intelligence available to you in a new Partner tool called Solution Central.

“The VIP Booth Tour was so successful that my customer wants to do this for all the shows they attend with Cisco. I would recommend the Booth Tour to every Account Team. It is a tremendous help.” — Tom Ring, Cisco Enterprise AM, Chicago

Interop GraphicUsing these customer priorities as our guide, we then walk through three solution demos that correspond most directly to each customer’s objectives. The tour guide is a customer advocate who connects the dots to each solution and provides the business context around each demo. Demos are still conducted by technical staff, but business relevance is provided by the VIP Tour guide.

Customer, partner, and Cisco sales team feedback on this process has been fabulous, and we’re expanding the tours to more Cisco events.

You can apply this same “customer-in” process to your engagements with these three easy steps:

  1. Identify your customer’s top 3 business priorities – these vary by industry
  2. Use Solution Central to connect the dots between those priorities and Cisco solutions
  3. Use each solution page in Solution Central to find content such as case studies and solution overviews that map to each customer priority

By the way, your IBLM opportunity, promotions, demos and other helpful information is all displayed in context with each solution in one easy to find location.

This process is just one small step on the personalization journey, but it’s a great way to boost your business. We’d love to hear your feedback on how this process works for your teams.

Read more blogs in this series for channel partners here. Read blogs in this series for customer here.

Good selling!


Marlowe Fenne

No Longer with Cisco