In follow-up to my recent Customer Success discussion, this month I checked in with two more Cisco Partner leaders in the Americas – Ryan Kingston, Director, Americas Distribution, Lifecycle Services, and Stefania Di Cicco, Manager, CX Renewals – to learn how Cisco partners are scaling their recurring revenue business by leading with a digital renewals strategy. Here are a few highlights:
John: Tell me about your business and where partners are at in their renewals practices, in terms of maturity.
Ryan: The Americas is a big market and is out front leading the way with renewals. Because of the shift to selling subscriptions, partners in the U.S., Canada and Latin America have massive amounts of ATR (Available to Renew) across services and software, particularly in the long tail of the business. As a standalone business unit, renewals in the Americas will represent several billion dollars in the next fiscal year. Partners recognize the importance of optimizing their renewal practice to capture this opportunity.
John: Why is digital so critical to renewals, both for Cisco and our partners?
Stefania: Everyone wants to work the six and seven figure renewals, but collectively, the smaller ones are very important, too. Shavings make a pile, and they really do add up. The smaller renewals may not warrant the individual touch and that’s where our digital motions come into play.
Ryan: We have proactive and reactive interactions with thousands of partners, so automation and digitization is paramount as we cover so many things. The end customer expects a certain experience from Cisco, regardless of whether it’s coming 100% from the partner or 20% from the partner and 80% behind the scenes from the distributor. So, we’re really focused on providing partners with the framework and tools to maneuver with Cisco, support that business model at scale, and keep everybody profitable.
John: How are we incentivizing partners to digitize renewals?
Stefania: One of the things Cisco does to help partners scale is automated quote generation. By using AutoQuotes, partners don’t have to spend time building manual renewal quotes – the system does it for them. And, a Smart Net Total Care long tail promotion is helping partners increase their profitability, while also saving time and people power. The result is we’re giving partners an increased margin and the ability to make renewals zero touch. It’s an attractive offer. To participate, all partners need to do is sign up for AutoQuote.
“We are seeing significant growth in terms of AutoQuotes converting to orders.
I do think this model of digital engagement via automation is working.”
– Red River
John: What best practices are emerging as our partners’ renewal practice evolves?
Stefania: Cisco Lifecycle Advantage is becoming our partners’ most popular automation solution, allowing partners to digitally notify every customer of expiring contracts and subscriptions, and guiding them to easily renew. Customization is key, and partners can tweak our digital tools to make sense for their business. Some partners only want to send Lifecycle Advantage notifications to a certain segment or threshold and, using Commerce Automation, partners can choose to send AutoQuotes to customers and fully digitize that motion in the long tail.
Ryan: We keep learning new ways to fuel scale with digital. For example, one major distributor has launched a customer experience practice that basically spans the entire Latin American footprint, all from a single operation center in Brazil. In this case, Lifecycle Advantage and Commerce Automation are being used to scale both the long tail business and the distributor’s regional coverage.
John: What do partners value most about Lifecycle Advantage and Commerce Automation?
Stefania: Partners like the simplicity of the experience–curated notifications going out that include everything needed to renew or upsell a customer–and it’s all co-branded. It helps them scale and enables them to be more profitable and less hands on. The digital tools also alleviate operational headaches for partners when booking an order because they don’t have to go through the system to execute a quote anymore, they just click a button and it’s done.
John: What other types of support are available to partners as they build their renewals practices?
Stefania: Partners are always seeking more training and product knowledge and we’re working hard to deliver that. We recently published a playbook to guide partners in building a digital renewals practice, connect them with available APIs, and help better align them with Cisco.
Ryan: The final transaction is often the most challenging part of renewals, and eStorefronts help make that process truly frictionless. eStorefront provides partners with a connection point to fulfill online transactions either on their own site or via a third party. TD Synnex offers a great solution for this, so end-customers can fully transact a renewal online using their credit card information, without anyone having to touch it.
Streamlining the opportunity or the renewal digitally all the way out through to the transaction is clearly a game changer for both the partner and the customer experience. Speaking of game changers, please join me again next month when we’ll look at a partner’s perspective on the impact lifecycle practices have on growth.
Get started with renewals automation and join the community at Americas Lifecycle Advantage – Cisco Community
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