Tech Data looks to drive Cisco services with Opportunity Portal

Angie Beltz, vice president, Product Marketing, Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data

Angie Beltz, vice president, Product Marketing, Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data

Distributor Tech Data, as part of a multi-faceted drive to enhance partners’ Cisco services business, has announced its SMARTattach Opportunity Portal. It is designed to both help partners maximize recurring revenue, and to provide a ‘second chance’ to attach service contracts on Cisco products.

The Portal will be global in its breadth. It has been available to Tech Data’s partners in Europe for five years, where it is branded as ‘Felix.’ It will be rolled out to Tech Data partners in the U.S. this week, in Canada in two weeks, and in Latin America shortly after that.

“Canada and Latin America didn’t even have SMARTattach before, so this will be a huge plus for them,” said Angie Beltz, vice president, Product Marketing, Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data.

The SMARTattach Opportunity Portal is a key component of a major push by Tech Data to improve partners’ facility with Cisco SMARTnet support contracts.

“Many partners have struggled on the SMARTnet side on the operational piece, because their focus was often on the hardware, and the services got left behind,” Beltz said.  “They need to know exactly what to attach to hardware they are selling. Cisco incents partners on attach rates so it’s important for them to do this.”

Beltz said that to better address this, Tech Data has been working on a few things around their SMARTnet practice. As part of its Momentum strategy to better enable partners to sell Cisco services more profitably, the distributor has been expanding its’ partner training.

“At the end of January, we launched new core training that is aligned with roles within a partner operation, and designed training that helps them understand Cisco better,” Beltz said. “Now we have  added SMARTnet training to teach partners how to sell SMARTnet better. From a consultative perspective, we are adding expert one-on-one consultation to take them to the next level through our  High Touch program.”

Beltz said that Momentum is a fantastic enablement strategy for partners.

“In the last two and a half years, it has helped them streamline and understand the investments they have to make,” she said. “It’s a dynamic business plan that helps them drive demand, boosting demand generation and through sales enablement training. It is customized based on the need of the partner and shows them how to take architectures into specific vertical markets, and how to market it, and do demand generation for the new expanded architectures.”

Three weeks ago, Tech Data built on this by launching Momentum SV, an executive-level forum running April 1-3 in Austin, focused on developing Smart Services strategy.

The new SMARTattach Opportunity Portal is intended to play a key role within this strategy of developing more profitable Cisco services investments. While the original SMARTattach portal is not new, the new Opportunity portal within it adds two new functions.

“The two new elements are automated renewals, and uncovering eligible service contracts on equipment which were not attached originally,” Beltz said.

“Operational cumbersomeness has hurt renewals, and the portal streamlines ease of doing business there,” Beltz added.  “The portal helps partners through automation. They can have notifications sent to them, and can decide if they want to be notified 60 days or 90 days in advance. Soon there will be a 120 day option. The partner can then send it as an action item to a sales team to close the deal.”

The portal also allows partners to improve attach rate and manage missed attach at point-of-sale by showing ‘second chance’ service opportunities where the SMARTnet contract was not attached at the time of the original sale.

Beltz said Tech Data sees the biggest opportunity in these areas being in the $25,000 and below space.

“The portal lets the partner manage all their Cisco renewals — even if they did the deal direct with Cisco or through another distie,” she said.

The technology for the SMARTattach Opportunity Portal comes from MaintenanceNet, which is focused on building service annuity solutions. MaintenanceNet also built the Felix system for Tech Data in Europe.

“We tried to integrate directly with Cisco ourselves, and it didn’t work, because we didn’t have the black box like MaintenanceNet,” Beltz said.

Beltz indicated that down the line, Tech Data is looking at leveraging relationships with other vendors MaintenanceNet works with.

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