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Are You Ready for a Fresh New Start? Take a Step Back for Maximum Impact

As summer comes to a close, many of us have kids who are returning to school with shiny new shoes and eager smiles. After a few months off, their minds are ready for the new school year and are open to learning again. Or if you have a high-schooler like me, they may not be as eager and are counting the years until they graduate. Either way, the importance of getting a fresh new start is critical to making the most of their education.

The same is true in the business world. Most of us rush through the day, striving to finish our to-do list, rarely taking time to take a step back and get that fresh new perspective. The opportune time to do this is at the start of the new calendar or fiscal year. As Cisco dives into our new fiscal year 2016, we welcome the new and returning Partner Plus Partners into the FY16 Partner Plus program. This is an exciting time at Cisco and an excellent time for Partners to take that step back and plan out their execution strategy for the new fiscal year.

Follow these steps to optimize your sales performance and achieve maximum Partner Plus Incentive Payouts.

  • Know your quarterly Partner Plus Target. Your quarterly targets can be found in Partner Program Intelligence (PPI). In addition, your Cisco bookings for both services and products are updated daily in PPI so you can see how you are performing against that quarterly target. Make it a habit to check PPI at least 2X per week to stay on top of your bookings.
  • PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Once you know your quarterly target, build out a plan to reach your goal. Work with your Cisco PAM/VPAM to complete your Cisco Business plan. Make sure you incorporate your Partner Plus target into the plan. Strategize on how you will invest your Partner Plus wallet dollars.
  • Starting Building your Pipeline – early and often. A good rule of thumb is to have 3X your target in your pipeline at all times. So if your quarterly targets average $200K, you would want to have $600K in your pipeline of opportunities. If you have any Partner Plus wallet dollars, invest in some demand generation activities to help build a solid pipeline to ensure you meet your quarterly target.
  • Leverage “Partner Help Plus” as a consistent part of your go to market strategy. Partner Help Plus is an exclusive pre-sales engineering service for Partner Plus Partners only. The Elite level can leverage Partner Help Plus directly. Prestige and Aspire levels can access Partner Help Plus through their Cisco Authorized Distributor. Partner Help Plus level 2 and 3 engineers will solve your case with shorter turn-around times and provide exclusive services only for Partner Plus. Leverage our experts to help increase your close ratios.
  • Hone your Selling Skills. Another exclusive benefit for Partner Plus partners are access to Softskills Selling webinars. These monthly online webinars offer advice from outside consultants on a variety of topics including “Prospecting and Lead Nurturing”,” Cross Sell, Upsell & Renew”, “Closing Strategies” and much more. Look for invitations coming your way soon!
  • Use Winner’s Circle as a Motivator with your Teams. Partner Plus Partners receiving Prestige and Elite level benefits have the opportunity to earn a spot in our annual Partner Plus Winner’s Circle event. This all expense-paid trip is available to top performing Partner Sales Reps who help their company over-achieve Partner Plus targets. Winner’s Circle attendees enjoy first class accommodations at premier locations around the globe and get to network with Cisco executives and have fun while celebrating their success. Make sure your sales teams know about this amazing trip. Keep an eye out for upcoming Winner’s Circle Leaderboards to see if your company is in the running to attend!
  • Work with your Cisco Authorized Distributor to leverage their resources to further maximize results. Your distributor has a wealth of resources that you, as a Cisco partner, can leverage to increase your success in the market. By aligning with both Cisco and your Cisco distributor, you can take your business to an entirely new level.

So, with a wealth of resources and benefits, Partner Plus Partners have a competitive edge in the midmarket which can help increase sales exponentially. Make sure YOU are taking advantage of all these benefits and much more. And if you aren’t yet a Partner Plus partner and are curious how to qualify, please visit our website. Most importantly, take some time to strategize and gain a fresh perspective to maximize your results!

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Open Your Mind to See More Closed Deals

Are you an open minded person sales professional? Most of you reading this will say “Yes, I am open minded” without really thinking through the question.  Now more than ever we live in a world that is constantly changing. Keeping an open mind with your customers, prospects and other stakeholders is critical to your ability to survive and even thrive in this evolving and dynamic business environment. Unfortunately there’s no proven test to determine whether you are truly open-minded but the benefits are indisputable.

Here are just a few benefits of being open-minded:

  • Greater credibility as a fair-minded expert: Keeping an open mind allows an opportunity for you to change with the constantly evolving selling landscape. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to change your beliefs but it means you are at least open to evaluating new ideas and views. You may end up believing even more strongly in your existing ideas but being open means you’ve evaluated all sides of an idea or belief which lends to your credibility with customers and stakeholders.
  • Makes yourself vulnerable which opens the door to more authentic relationships: Having an open mind means you have to admit that you don’t know everything. It means being honest when you don’t know something. This can be uncomfortable as many sales people believe they are expected to be the expert and have all the answers. Many sales people unfortunately divert to the tactic of “overselling” where they sell based on what they hope to be true without verifying instead of simply admitting they don’t know. But seeing the world through an open mind is what makes you vulnerable and being vulnerable is the key to more enriching relationships. This vulnerability can be both terrifying and exhilarating but is required for true authenticity.
  • Strengthens your character: Open-mindedness provides a springboard for new ideas and a baseline that you can build upon, piling one idea on top of another. Being open-minded typically allows for new experiences which collectively make you the person you are and strengthen the beliefs that you hold. It’s very hard to build on experiences without an open mind.
  • Helps you to gain confidence. When you live with an open mind, you are continually learning and experiencing which contributes to a strong sense of self. You are not confined by your own beliefs, or the beliefs of others. You are open to evaluating new ideas without judgement. Imagine going into a new prospect’s environment and truly being open to the experience.  Take the time to learn as much as possible about what is going on there without jumping to a quick solution. Then, and only then, can you really understand what is needed and propose an optimal solution. Over time, your confidence will soar because you will no longer be fearful of the unknown. You will welcome it because it will add to your experience as a seasoned sales and business professional.

Read More »

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Smarketing: A Sales & Marketing Love Story

Once upon a time, sales and marketing were in love

True, Marketing wanted a long-term relationship and Sales only wanted a one-night stand, but it was clear where everyone stood.

Then, the relationship began to change

With the advent of digital and social tools, buyers – not sellers – stepped into the driver’s seat.  They began using online means to conduct ROI analyses before making final purchasing decisions.  Today, according to Sirius Decisions, buyers are more informed than ever because they’ve got access to online content as well as an extensive online peer network.  And, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and one- third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep.

Marketing started to use tactics that buyers, not Sales, preferred

Marketing started to change too.  As Cisco’s CMO Karen Walker has said, “Marketing was the last function to be industrialised and the first function to be digitised.” With the buyer in control, Marketers started moving away from outbound tactics like tradeshows, live events, and email campaigns that Sales was used to.  We started using digital tactics that matched the buyers’ desire to look for information online using search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites. But neither Sales nor Marketing was happy.  Things got so bad that Hubspot reported:  “87% of the terms sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative.”

Enter Revenue Marketing

Like a good marriage counsellor, Revenue Marketing helped Sales and Marketing rekindle their relationship.  In a nutshell, Revenue Marketing ensures that Marketing strategies and campaigns align with Sales and business objectives to generate a measurable ROI to the bottom line.  Using Revenue Marketing principles, Marketing started to transform from a cost centre to a revenue centre. Marketing and Sales began to work in partnership again. And they began speaking the same language – using terms of endearment like planning, forecasts, pipeline, bookings, and revenue.

Back on track:  Smarketing

Today, the romance between Sales and Marketing is back on.  And, like all happy couples, they’re using a pet name:  Smarketing.  Hubspot defines the term Smarketing as “the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication.” We’ve embraced the term and the concept here at Cisco, and here are four lessons learned to strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.

4 Tips For Smarketing bliss

 1. Speak a common language

It’s important to be on the same page. For example, here at Cisco, Sales and Marketing both know exactly what we mean by terms such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Accepted Leads (SAL), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

2. Gaze in the same direction

Marketing and Sales must also share revenue goals and strategies.  We have defined how much Marketing will contribute to Sales  – both to the pipeline and to bookings.  We have also articulated what each team will do to support the others’ efforts.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Once you’re on the same page, tune your operational systems to give visibility into results – and refine your processes continually.  At Cisco, Sales and Marketing use common reporting dashboards and hold each other accountable.  Both teams listen and respond to feedback.

 4. Celebrate success hand-in-hand

Now that Marketing can concretely prove its value, both teams can celebrate together. This builds strong team morale.

Smarketing may be a cute term but it has very real ramifications.  In fact, according to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment can get 20% annual revenue growth.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

So please raise a glass and join me in congratulating the happy couple.  To….Smarketing!

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – May 29, 2015

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2

Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

Karin Surber was here this week to discuss how Cisco partners are poised to succeed by using line of business selling. Wonder what exactly that is, as I did when we first started discussing it? Well check out Karin’s blog and she’ll give you the lowdown on how you are in a position for the best selling opportunity of your lifetime!

Karin walks you through solution selling, architecture selling and now line of business selling. Check out her blog and let us know what you think. Read More »

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Cisco Partners Poised to Cash in on Line of Business Selling

The way we sell to customers continues to evolve. What works for a while may not be effective in a year or two because the market and buyers are continually changing. Back when I first started in sales many moons ago, the small regional company I worked for didn’t leverage any type of formal selling model. We were encouraged to personalize our sales approach, build relationships with customers and continually build pipeline. While these things are still important, they may not be enough to sustain your business. Understanding the various sales methodologies and applying those models that fit the maturity of your particular local market is critical for your long term success.

The first methodology I was able to leverage was Solution Selling in the mid 1990’s. With Solution Selling, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s pain(s) and addresses those pains with his or her offerings (product and services). The resolution of the pain is what constitutes a “solution”. Typically, we would focus on taking a “latent pain” (something that was always in the back of the customers’ mind) and create a sense of urgency around it. Since I was selling IT services, my questions and solutions were designed for IT Buyers. This worked very well for a few years as I was selling a limited set of solutions.

With Cisco in the mid 2000’s, we were focused on solution selling but it became a challenge as more and more of our products were designed to work together. We needed a selling methodology that would put our products and services into a much broader context for our customers.  We moved to an Architectural Selling Model. Instead of solving for specific business problems, the architectural seller looks for opportunities to change and improve entire customer business functions by creatively applying their products and services.  Here, an architectural seller from Cisco would look to determine how a large investment in Collaboration hardware, software and services can help clients improve the effectiveness and efficiency of how they collaborate, increase productivity and lower their total cost of ownership, accelerate time to market and increase revenue growth, improve customer satisfaction and generate new ideas. Typically this type of selling is directed towards IT buyers as well and results in much larger deal sizes. Read More »

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