Value Propositions

Value Propositions

Marcus Cauchi

According to Donovan, 2006 saw major sea changes in the market, “Organisations with more than 250 people stopped buying a PBX. Microsoft entered the unified communications (UC) market – a double-edged sword which will see them make an impact from at least a marketing perspective until the technology can catch up. However, their move has validated our own positioning.

“Another highlight of 2006 was the traction Cisco gained in the SMB sector where we grew our business significantly ahead of the industry norm. Back in 2005 we embarked upon a planned SMB partner recruitment plan which saw field-based Cisco support put in place to sell our value proposition and the quality lead we had over competition. At the same time we ramped up our marketing to SMBs and introduced several market ‘plays’ – solutions in a box, for example, call centre

applications. We ran the campaigns for the resellers and then gave them the resultant sales leads. This has worked so well that we now sell these ‘plays’ as a service for our resellers. These three elements combined well for our channel partners and this value proposition meant that with Cisco technology they could gain a better share of the customer wallet.”

 

Price Factor:

Price Factor: 2006 also saw Cisco running quarterly partner advisory boards from which the feedback, according to the company, has been very positive.

“Research we have undertaken shows that price is only the fourth most important reason why SMB resellers sell your products. Cisco focussed on the top three reasons: brand recognition, service and support back up and a vendor that can help them be successful.

“Selling is about creating value – you can’t sell on price, you can only supply on price. For resellers, the pre-sales stage is where they gain the credibility.”

Donovan says that 2007 will see Cisco complete the transition to the new partner programme announced in San Diego in the spring of last year.

“This is a two-year program of new specialisations including the new top category of Master where presently three UK partners are nearing achievement. This represents a significant investment for the reseller in their commitment but results in brand differentiation and for the end-user the Master specialisation means dealing with a safe pair of hands.”

From a product perspective 2007 will see Cisco continue to strengthen our SMB portfolio ‘pushing the boundaries of network-based applications’.

“It’s about the user experience, not the technology,” says Donovan, “Effectively we are making the technology disappear and providing the user with an experience they can only get from Cisco.”

Cisco will also be making a bigger push in 2007 towards the consumer market where they are looking to provide an integrated platform for users.

With regard to the potential for hosted IP telephony Donovan says, “Business has the traditional telco offerings and at the low end of the market Featureline. In the middle ground there appears to be lots of grey areas and a very fragmented market with no major inroads being made. For resellers, the big question to ask when it comes to hosted IP telephony is ‘What exactly are you selling?’ If you sell on service then would you be happy with someone else supplying the service? Hosted IP telephony sounds a great idea but I am not sure what the plan is.

“With managed services however there is far greater room for innovation; room to combine many elements such as voice, security, wireless and back up for example. In my opinion SMBs would welcome a fully managed services offering based upon a monthly fixed fee.”

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