Cisco Brings Together Partner Led and Inside Sales

John Donovan, vice president of global midmarket acceleration at Cisco

John Donovan, vice president of global midmarket acceleration at Cisco

Cisco Systems is looking to build on its growing name in the midmarket, and has brought together its former Global Virtual Sales (read: inside sales) division with its Partner Led organization that has championed that segment in the channel. The resulting Global Midmarket Acceleration is tasked with making Cisco successful in the 100-to-1,000-seat space, an area where Cisco is 100 percent channel.

“[Cisco partner organization boss] Bruce Klein felt there were tremendous synergies between what [former Partner Led chief] Andrew [Sage] was doing and what we were doing in the midmarket business, so we wanted to bring those two capabilities together, and have a consolidated approach to driving the midmarket business,” said John Donovan, vice president of global midmarket acceleration.

Donovan heads up the group, which was brought together on the heels of Sage being moved to head up distribution earlier this year. The organization currently has 1,700 people, the majority of whom are virtual sales and virtual engineering resources. Donovan’s big task: finding a way to recreate the face-to-face sales experience that customers and channel partners are used to in the virtual world. Between using high-definition video, online conferencing, and social media, Donovan thinks they’re making headway.

“Most of our partners and our customers are time-poor, so the ability to meet according to their schedule is crucial,” he said.

In the short term, the group is focusing on delivering what was promised by Sage and his organization at Cisco Partner Summit in June – which includes doubling the resources behind the Partner Led effort in terms of marketing and support, and bringing $1 billion in sales qualified leads to the channel this year. While the Partner Led effort has been well-received and helped Cisco gain ground in the midmarket, it’s an area where the company still has a lot of market share to gain until it’s the same kind of juggernaut it is in the enterprise networking space. For one, the company has to make sure partners are getting the most out of what’s available. Donovan said he’s been surprised to see that the company’s virtual engineering support isn’t being used by as many solution providers as he’d expect.

“We need to help them build that kind of capability into their business process so they can realize the benefit of having that kind of service on tap,” Donovan said. “The next 12 months are about making sure partners are embracing everything we have out there.”

And as the program builds out, Donovan said he expects the channel will see more Cisco built-for-midmarket equipment, especially considering the success of its Business Edition 6000 unified communications offering, where the company is “seeing hundreds of percents of sequential growth every quarter.”

“We believe there’s a great appetite for quality products bought to the market by quality channel partners,” Donovan said.