Co-authored and video intro by Julia Chen, VP – Cisco Global Partner Transformation

Over the years, Cisco and our partners have had considerable success selling our portfolio and services to IT organizations. But as customers navigate the current digital transformation trend, they are also evolving how they make IT and technology purchase decisions and how they deliver new experiences to their target markets. New buying centers such as line of business (LOB) and application modernization groups have increasing budgets and decision-making authority. (See Figure 1.) In fact, a recent IDC study showed that these new buying centers will have more than twice the budget than their IT department counterparts.

Figure 1  Customer transformation generates newer and larger opportunities

This evolution also means customers will want to integrate Cisco technology more tightly with their IT stacks by leveraging new software and APIs through platform-based outcomes. They will also need ongoing support to help ensure excellent customer experiences across the entire lifecycle.

Working together

We have seen countless instances that demonstrate how different organizations and individuals have worked together to meet a challenge or need. Examples include enabling schools to administer distance learning and retooling factories to manufacture respirators and PPE.

Another example: Hospitals are embracing digital transformation as they deploy new use cases, such as providing mobile apps and devices to caregivers and patients to help improve patient care and the patient experience. Simply put, innovative technology holds the promise of enabling our customers to operate with greater agility and higher levels of security, while also reducing costs and operational complexity.

Multipartner co-selling

Some of the best examples of these fruitful collaborations involve multipartner “co-selling” motions among different types of partners across the Cisco ecosystem. These partnerships are delivering better solution outcomes, as we position ourselves as our customers’ trusted advisor. Another result of co-selling, of course, is the creation of incredible opportunities for every participating partner.

As we noted earlier, our customers’ priorities are evolving as they face different transformation challenges. In response, Cisco and our partners need not only to evolve  our relationships with customers, but also to transform ourselves to access new buying centers as we continue to perform and expand existing business from IT to new buying centers. So what do I mean by that?

Perform while you transform

For starters, we must continue to perform exceptionally well with our existing sales and support motions to the IT buyers we have served so profitably over the years. That said, we can also expand this motion to performwhile you transform.”

Here’s an example of how several Cisco partners came together to co-sell and access new buying center budget: Recently a very large U.S. healthcare system was trying to “improve patient and clinician experience”—an initiative led by the chief experience officer, working with the chief medical and chief nursing officers. These positions all represent new buying centers with increased influence on the technology budget and decision making.

To tap into these new relationships and budgets, three Cisco partners—an independent software vendor (ISV) specializing in clinical collaboration software, an independent hardware vendor (IHV) providing market-leading mobile devices, and a systems integrator-reseller—came together. The ISV and IHV had established relationships with the new buying center roles, and the reseller connected the solution to the IT department, resulting in a solution that delivered the business outcome of improving patient and clinician experience.

In providing a holistic, end-to-end solution, this deal led to a larger deal size through enterprise license agreements and a multiarchitecture approach to drive recurring revenue services and streams throughout the customer lifecycle. But most important, using multipartner co-selling to access these buying centers enabled the partners to establish a highly strategic customer relationship that encouraged future renewals and offered them a seat at the table for years to come. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2  Access new buying centers by creating new co-selling partnerships


Co-selling to new customer roles

Expanding on a point we made earlier, LOB buyers now influence 80 percent of IT purchases and control 60 percent of the budget. In addition, 70 percent of LOB buyers say it’s critical to link IT investments with business outcomes.

This scenario means we must co-sell to customer roles that include the CxO and LOBs, as well as operational technology (OT) and application modernization leads. The more we can access and have conversations with these new customer roles, the higher the available budgets will be. We also need to co-sell to DevOps and SecOps, because these application providers are playing increasingly crucial roles in delivering the overall solution.

The benefits of ecosystem partnering

To have these important sales conversations, we must engage with a growing ecosystem of partners who are already connected with these customer roles. An interesting statistic: By 2021, it’s expected that 30 percent of partner-to-partner engagements will involve more than two partners.[1]

When partners co-sell in a multipartner motion across the Cisco ecosystem, we’ve found  deals to be on average 3.2x larger, with some deal sizes far exceeding that. This is exactly the type of co-selling motion we are seeing more of right now, as customers continue to redefine how they run their businesses.

Multipartner co-selling helps us to participate in new conversations, giving us a new perspective on helping our customers. To engage with CxOs and LOBs, for example, we are partnering with industry consultants, ISVs, digital solution integrators (DSIs), and Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs), together with our resellers. To engage with DevOps and SecOps, we’re also partnering with cloud providers.

Selling more products and services

As we expand our partner ecosystem co-selling motions, we start climbing the buying center opportunity hierarchy, which leads us to identify new industry use cases—for example, those enabled by new application experiences running across multicloud architectures. This leads to increased revenue opportunities, as we deliver solutions built from our combined products and services that enable these new use cases to be realized and deployed.

In other words, by partnering with an expanding set of new ecosystem partner roles, we put ourselves in a position to deliver new use cases to our customer LOB buying centers. Ultimately, we’re delivering full solutions that are built on the Cisco secure intelligent platform, which consists of applications, infrastructure, and security. (See Figure 3.) The platform is also delivered through teams here at Cisco, such as the Cisco Customer Experience (CX) organization. This is ultimately translating Cisco’s portfolio into business value that can be realized throughout customer buying centers, from IT to the LOBs and C-suite.

Figure 3  Delivering customer use cases with new partner roles

We are accelerating the transformation of how we co-sell with every partner we touch across the ecosystem. Ultimately, we invite you—our Cisco partners—to further engage with us to transform our co-selling motions with the objective of meeting our customer’s evolving priorities en route to accelerating customer outcomes and increased revenue. Here are a few things you can do today:

  1. Contact the New Buying Center team in Cisco’s Global Partner Transformation organization at AskGPT@cisco.com to learn how you can accelerate your co-selling motion to access new buying centers within customers.
  2. Review the Portfolio Explorer cs.co/explorer to see new solutions we are offering together with our ecosystem partners.
  3. Visit the Transformation Hub on Sales Connect.
  4. Check out our Transformation Practice Building web site to find resources to accelerate your transformation.

What are your best practices when you co-sell with multiple partners to access new buying center budgets?


[1] IDC 2019 Channel Alliance Predictions


Akbar Hasan

Senior Director, Co-sell Acceleration Group

Global Strategic Partner Organization