Cisco extends Fast Track program to more products

Dave O'Callaghan

Cisco midmarket chief Dave O'Callaghan

Cisco Systems has introduced the second iteration of its Fast Track program, which looks to make it faster and easier for the company’s partners to sell its high-volume products into midmarket customers.

Fast Track 1 offered published partner pricing for several Cisco high-volume SKUs through distribution, making the quoting and delivery process easier. The program ran for nearly four years, crossing the boundaries between promotion and program. But Dave O’Callaghan, Cisco’s new vice president of worldwide sales for the commercial segment, said it “wasn’t systematic across Cisco.” He’s fixing that problem with Fast Track 2.

Launched this week, Fast Track 2 offers a partner-suggested price list for several high-volume product families from Cisco, including switching, routing, wireless LAN, network security and unified communications. Under the program, Cisco and its distribution partners will offer extended stock of the most popular products in those categories for next-day delivery if needed.

The program covers Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and is open to Cisco Registered partners and above.

“Resellers have got the pricing, and then they work with their favorite distie who has the stock on-hand,” O’Callaghan said. “We think its going to be a great accelerator for partners’ Cisco practices in the midmarket. It’s a ‘right product, right price, right on the shelf’ situation.”

For O’Callaghan, it’s a matter of growing Cisco’s midmarket business by first growing its partners’ business in the space. “If we have 40,000 Cisco partners all seeing that inflection point in growth, we’re obviously going to grow with them,” he said.

For the future, O’Callaghan said the company is working with its development group to offer high-volume versions of products across “three or four more families” of products to round out the solutions available under the Fast Track program.

O’Callaghan said the launch of Fast Track 2 was not a response on Cisco’s part to its much-publicized supply chain woes of earlier this year, but that the nature of the program should help to make sure such problems don’t happen again.

“The supply chain is healthy today, but the flow of this high-volume business through distribution will be much more predictable,” he said. “It will help us to smooth out the highs and the lows in the cycle.”

The launch of Fast Track 2 is part of a broader expansion of focus on the mid-market, a group O’Callaghan described as an innovation engine – 38 per cent of the company’s sales of its Unified Computing System data centre servers has been to midmarket companies.

“They’re early adopters and they’re fast adopters, and that’s because the partners in this space have the complete trust of that end user,” he said.

Since he moved into his new role as midmarket chief from his previous job at Cisco managing worldwide distribution relationships, O’Callaghan said he’s been studying how to expand the mid-market as a “partner-led, partner-driven, partner-centric model.” His role model in the project? The small market sales model championed by Andrew Sage and his team.

Efforts have included redefining sales staff as territory business managers rather than territory account managers, implementing new CRM and PRM for midmarket and changing the way it trains its staff in the space.

A lot of that change is starting in Canada, which has been the pilot geography for the company’s “Avant Garde” program, a collection of systems including new staff and systems serving the Canadian channel partner, as well as partner incentives like Fast Track 2 and more.

“The whole world is looking at Canada,” O’Callaghan said. “Canada’s such a great mix of large geography, big cities, smaller cities, and a huge amount of territory.  There’s no better place that captures the interests of all of our theatres from a small/midsize perspective.”

The program rolled out over September and October in Canada, and is planned to roll out around the world over the course of the next year or more. Rollout in each region will depend on how many of the tools and processes are already in place in a given region.

Other moves to solidify the company’s midmarket business include the appointment of O’Callaghan to his new role, which now sits within Keith Goodwin’s worldwide partners organization alongside channel chief Edison Peres, SMB sales boss Sage, transformational partners boss Wendy Bahr and others. O’Callaghan said that “sitting next to Edison and Wendy has paid huge dividends already in terms of how we shape those programs.”