I love getting out into the field with partners and our sales teams because I get remarkably candid feedback on what Cisco can do better. Over the last 90 days I have had the pleasure of spending time with more than 150 partner executives in meet-and-greets, roundtables, 1-1s and advisory boards across North and South America. I’d like to share some recurring themes that I’m hearing from partners:
- Cisco’s strategy is working: Whether I am in Argentina, California, Texas or Toronto – the top thing that is resoundingly apparent when I talk to partners is that our strategy is much clearer and it is working. We are hearing that our multi-domain strategy and cognitive collaboration vision is game changing. This is further reinforced when you consider the successive string of strong growth metrics across our partner ecosystem, and it is reflected in our recent Q3 earnings.
- Customer Obsession means manically driving Customer Experience (CX): I love that our partners are now seeing the CX transformation underway and they are committed to leading through it. These are very exciting times, and we need to work closely with our partners to sort out the roles we will both play in driving Customer Obsession and how we monetize our success here. At Cisco, we have developed the CX “race track” that identifies key customer touchpoints to fuel success. We will continue to collaborate with our partners around this transformation, including all the different sales motions and monetization opportunities around the race track.
- Sales alignment is important in driving Customer Obsession: Field sales alignment and improved communications are critical to Cisco and to our partners’ success. In fact, it is more important than ever as we drive Customer Obsession. Our challenge is to get our Cisco sellers more aligned earlier in the selling process. This means more proactive territory and account planning. It also means considering new roles like Customer Success Executives earlier in the selling process. Two years ago we introduced the Power of 3, which is all about improved alignment in the field. This initiative is even more relevant and important than ever, and we are doubling down across my team to ensure we are the “glue” helping to bridge partner sellers and Cisco sellers.
- Critical skillsets are in short supply: With the level of disruption and transformation underway in the industry, new skillsets are required but they are scarce—particularly in engineering talent, and in areas like Customer Success, Security and DevOps. We will continue to work with Cisco Learning, Cisco Network Academy, and our enablement teams to innovate in the ways necessary to close this gap.
- Field sales compensation must align with partner incentives: Aligning Cisco field sales compensation with our partners’ incentives is also critical to our success going forward. We often hear that our alignment and predictability have historically been industry-leading best practices. We can’t rest on these laurels, and we are committed to continue aligning those two areas so we can drive revenue and profit performance today while positioning to transform for the future. This is a top priority for us and is a discussion I regularly have with Jeff Sharritts, Chuck Robbins and Oliver Tuszik. Let me assure our partners—we remain committed to continuing our focus here.
That’s it for now. Be sure to check out Partner Xperience at Cisco Live in San Diego the week of June 10, and I hope to see you there.
Here’s to great partnering!