Co-authored by Julia Chen
Today’s customer priorities are evolving with a heightened focus on solutions that deliver result-based outcomes with predefined or expected standards. This is one of the reasons customers are going with full-stack solutions.
And if you offer full-stack solutions and services that leverage the intelligence inherent in the network across Cisco platforms such as Webex, Meraki, and Digital Network Architecture (DNA), you’ll further differentiate your offerings. You’ll also increase deal sizes and margins and increase customer stickiness, which leads to improved renewal rates.
As always, Cisco is committed to helping you continue to grow and become even more profitable, especially in response to this shift in customer priorities and buying habits. To accomplish this, we’re working with our partners to:
- Perform and grow your existing sales motions—primarily reselling Cisco portfolio technologies to IT buyers—while you
- Transform your selling motions, expanding into new line-of-business-driven buying centers with new platform-enabled solutions and enhanced customer experiences
What do I mean by “new platform-enabled” solutions?
In essence, I mean bringing solutions to market that deliver new benefits to our customers because of new capabilities now available when integrated with Cisco APIs.
Leveraging the knowledge in the network
All Cisco partners know that there is knowledge in the network that can be utilized by applications, ultimately with the objective of helping our customers. A horizontal example: Data available can help in provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting data center infrastructure. A vertical industry example: Cisco endpoints collect data such as the number of users who are nearby and connected. Applications can use this data to help ensure that the right size conference rooms are booked—helping improve overall facilities utilization, real estate planning, and cost management.
The opportunity, then, is for Cisco partners to develop and bring applications to market that leverage this network intelligence through Cisco platform APIs to bring more value to our mutual customers. Cisco calls this platform-based outcomes. Our customers simply call it buying and deploying applications that help them realize enhanced business outcomes.
Adding Cisco network intelligence to your applications can further differentiate your offering—potentially increasing the number of deals you do. In the real estate vertical example mentioned earlier, an ISV partner improved the efficiency of facilities use for a large telco customer by integrating with a number of Cisco APIs, such as AXL, CDRonDemand, CTI/JTAPI, and XML APIs WebEx. This ISV partnered with a Cisco reseller who provided value-added services. The result was a highly differentiated end-to-end solution.
For partners who want to differentiate themselves by building their own applications, Cisco DevNet is available to help with Cisco API programmability, including:
- Third-party software and custom integrations
- Certified and Solutions+ in Exchange
- Partner certifications and specializations
Larger deal sizes and higher margins
Providing end-to-end solutions is highly valuable to our customers who, in general, prefer to buy already-integrated solutions, rather than having to do the integration themselves. A comprehensive solution—rather than selling individual components—also increases deal size.
Cisco data shows an average 1.15X increase in deal size when bundling together more of the overall solution. And partners who develop their own applications all know margins improve when selling software.
Platform-based outcomes also help partners increase software renewal rates. For one, partners can use the telematics usage data available in the Cisco portfolio to drive consultative meetings with customers regarding utilization of products they have purchased—before a subscription comes up for renewal. These insights can help ensure that the customer is extracting the most value possible from a purchase. Additionally, the customer solution that is now utilizing capabilities in APIs may continue leveraging these outcomes through renewal.
Increasing upsell opportunities
As you engage with your customer, discussing telematics usage data, for example, you have the opportunity to learn more about additional requirements, which can help you discover upsell opportunities. Furthermore, partners can extend their sales with customized solutions—typically developed by an ISV—in response to better understanding customer requirements.
Finally, as Cisco continues to evolve as a software company, opening up our APIs allows us to provide additional value to our customers. This value can accelerate “stickiness”—providing sustainable value to our customers around their enhanced business outcomes. Cisco partners can then piggyback this stickiness by integrating with these APIs.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but …
You might respond that your company is doing just fine by reselling the Cisco portfolio. Of course, Cisco is happy that you’re a happy Cisco partner. But the market is changing. In fact, IDC expects worldwide IT spending to decline by 2.7 percent during 2020. Simply reselling the Cisco portfolio might lessen your differentiation and erode your margins, so you run the risk of shrinking margins as you sell to a shrinking market.
You might further respond that you don’t have the skill sets or resources to get into the software business. But Cisco has always been in the business of providing top-rated certification and specialization programs to help partners develop their skill sets through Cisco Learning partners and DevNet.
Partners can also join forces with other Cisco ecosystem partners to bring broader solutions to market. For example, you might have considerable expertise in selling Meraki, while an ISV partner might have an interesting financial services application. Together, your two companies might deliver a very well differentiated solution targeted at the financial services industry.
You might respond that it’s too hard to sell solutions to the lines of business; after all, you’ve made your living selling to IT. Generating leads into new buying centers and educating your sales force to talk to different decision makers and influencers can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. For starters, an ecosystem partner can help you during the sales cycle, taking on the role of a sales specialist, for example. Or a partner might bring you into deals. Cisco could help with marketing, through programs like Marketing Velocity. And finally, you have a fantastic customer base already and using additional functionality capabilities from Cisco allow you to build upon that base.
Interested in learning more? Here are some great potential resources to check out:
- DevNet provides information on programming to Cisco APIs and solutions that are ready in Exchange.
- Portfolio Explorer connects partners on particular sales plans and use cases.
- The Transformation Hub on Sales Connect is available with a number of enablement resources, such as proven use cases and customer win stories.
- Cisco’s Partner Transformation team [AskGPT@cisco.com] can work with you to test solution sales for a use case.
- Register HERE and join our CX-Partner Let’s Go executive interactive webinar on July 14 where we will showcase a new CX-Partner Model ebook—a single reference to help partners build or accelerate a sustainable customer success practice.
So what are you waiting for? The market is definitely changing; we all know this to be true. Cisco is committed to helping our partners transform themselves and to turn this change into an opportunity for further growth and profitability. Call on us. We’re here to help.