Here in the Northern Rockies, Spring is now in full flight.  Trees are budding, the days are noticeably longer, and unfortunately for anglers the Spring Run-off is in full swing.  Anglers mark the beginning of spring by coveting a solid 4-5 week window of decent fishing before the rivers rise and turn muddy.   This spring break (of sorts) in May has always served as a reminder to organize one’s fly boxes – the anglers toolbox, and the dreaded reminder of the mess we left when we trade rods for skis in November! In much the same vein, this past November, Cisco launched a new toolbox to our Partners entitled Cross-Architectural Sales Plays.

What are Cross-Architectural Sales Plays? And what do they have to do with trout fishing?

The main objective of the Cross-Architectural Sales Plays is to arm you, our partner sellers, with a set of resources that help you lead customers on a journey rooted in validated outcomes. You can learn about all the ways they unleash new growth for your business in my last blog. 

Within the sales plays we have packed a variety of tools – all of which have a specific purpose and point in the sales cycles where they are the most useful.  So how is this different from the myriad of other tools we have launched in the past?  The Cross-Architectural Sales Plays are mainly just toolboxes featuring new killer tools to make us all more effective in front of our customers.

Back in my garage, I am surveying my fishing toolbox.  My flybox strategy has evolved over the last 30 years and still has a lot to be desired.  Before marriage and kids (with way too much free time), I used more of the purist model of strict separation by type.  Dry Flies, Nymphs, and Streamers at the highest level and then each box having various sub-types and shades. Again, I had a lot of free time.  With this model it was easy to find the right tool, but wildly inefficient with multiple fly boxes required for every outing based on the dynamic nature of rivers and summer weather patterns.  This slowly evolved into an organization of flies in seasonal boxes with a tinge of a ‘most popular’ selection in a specific row.  Here is where I have stayed.

The layout of our new Cross-Architectural Sales Plays follow this more logical sequence of seasonal boxes, or the right tool for the right conversation, at the right point in the sales cycles.  It’s still up to the seller to choose the right tool, though, especially when faced with a larger selection.

Three types of flies and three killer tools in your Sales Play toolbox

One of the easiest types of flies to not only cast but also consistently land fish is the utilitarian dry fly.  This is usually some type of tan caddis with a wing pattern or hackle to resemble the common caddis fly or mosquito.  Most mid-size and small trout love to feast on these during those first warm spring evenings and on through the summer and fall.  In much the same way all of our sales plays have Architectural Use Cases (AUC’s), which are derived at a horizontal business outcome level.  The new ‘AUC’s’ are an easy tool for most sellers to utilize with existing customers and resonate with our venerable IT Buyers that know and love us.

The second type of fly, which is a little harder to cast and definitely requires more skill, is the nymph.  The nymph represents the larva stage of the fly and is fished under the surface of the water, making it much harder to see a fish strike and identify the right moment to set the hook.  While harder to fish, if used properly the nymph will provide the most consistent catching experiences. Similarly, our Sales Plays also include our toolset of Industry Use Cases.  These are mapped across various Sales Plays and like nymphing, Industry Use Cases require a bit more skill to deliver.  One needs to understand industry specifics and persona care-abouts to make these resonate with customers, but when used properly they are extremely effective.

The final type of fly, with by far the largest payback, is the streamer.  This is the hardest type of fly to cast and fish effectively.  While it can be fished in all seasons, anglers usually turn to the streamer in the fall to lure the infamous Brown Trout hunkering down for winter after mating season.  Effective anglers are usually rewarded with the fight of their life by these beautiful snarly trout.  In Cisco Sales Play Land – I would equate the streamer to our CXO Discussion Guides.  These guides are meant to assist with executive level positioning.  They all start with the problem being solved, discuss manifestations of the problems in business, and setup Cisco and more importantly you our partners point of view and different approaches and services to address the problem.  You will not find any technology speak, and while they take the most preparation the reward is executive buy-in and much larger opportunities.

Explore the Cross-Architecture Sales Plays today

So there you have it! Architectural and Industry Use Cases, along with CXO Discussion Guides, are the newest tools in our Cross-Architectural Sales Plays, designed to make us all more effective.  I encourage you to check out our new Cross-Architectural Sales Plays in SalesConnect now. Just like fishing, it takes time and trial and error, but having the right tool for the right conversation (or river condition) makes all the difference.

Tight Lines and Good Selling!




Matt O'Brien

Senior Business Development Manager

Global Partner Organization (GPO) - Digital Transformation and Industries