Since the initial announcement in 2018, Cisco has been ramping up its efforts to transform into a customer success (CX) focused organization. However, much of Cisco’s transformation relies on partner action. For many Cisco resellers and distributors, the task can actually be quite daunting. So, where do you start?
Cisco’s new Customer Experience Specialization offers a framework for the people, processes and tools that you need as a partner, to help support your customers throughout the lifecycle and successfully drive software activation and adoption.
Relatively speaking, the “People” requirements are fairly straightforward. You need to build your Customer Success team (if you don’t already have one). According to Cisco, it should (at the very minimum) include Cisco Certified Customer Success Managers (CSM), a Renewal Manager and an Executive Sponsor.
It is the “Process” and “Tools” components that actually require careful consideration and planning by any reseller or distributor wanting to remain/become a Cisco partner. So, let’s delve deeper into each of these.
The first thing you will need to do is ensure that you have a clearly defined long-term CX strategy, including measurable objectives and outcomes, as well as roles/responsibilities and processes to make it a reality.
Your strategy can now focus on the entire customer and product lifecycle, from landing of the initial deal (Land), right through to end of life or service (Surrender). What you do in between landing and surrendering is where the magic happens. You have the opportunity to proactively add value to your customers’ investment strategy and become a true partner with a vested interest in the customers’ success. In return, you will grow your recurring revenue and also collect Cisco Lifecycle Incentives along the way. Just as Oliver Tuszik, SVP of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization said in a recent article - “If you are a partner, you need to be unique. You need to create a value that nobody else can create because this creates profitability."
Next, it’s imperative that your entire organization is committed to this plan and the lifecycle methodology is infused across the board. Ensure that all departments (not just your CX team), as well as your executive leadership are fully aligned and working together to achieve the same outcomes.
Lastly, when defining your processes and workflows, it’s important that you consider the impact on your operational efficiency and profitability. This is where you must consider which aspects can be automated with the help of the appropriate technology.
Under “Tools”, Cisco recommends adopting technology to help automate customer monitoring, profiling and renewals management.
Determining which tools to help execute your lifecycle strategy is just as important as the strategy itself. Because, if your process relies heavily on manual effort or the wrong tools, it will be not be as effective, efficient or profitable as you would hope.
Whilst Cisco has its Lifecycle Advantage platform available for its resellers and distributors, and it may be the default go-to tool for most of its partners, one thing which you should keep in mind is that it is only built to sell more Cisco products. It does not take into account the hundreds if not thousands of other products/services you have within your kit. Unless you are 100% a “Cisco Shop”, you need a platform that has your objectives and your ecosystem in mind. This is particularly true for resellers who play a major role in shaping which technologies are deployed within the end customers’ business. As a reseller, it’s your responsibility to determine the best solution for your customer, which is why it’s not necessarily wise to wait for each of your vendors to identify growth opportunities on your behalf.
A recent report by TSIA on Data Driven Selling, claims that for most tech providers, different functions are looking at the same customer through very different lenses - particularly service and product-generated data which often reside in silos which sales cannot access, and in categories that are not common vernacular in the world of sales. It’s critical that all of that data is consolidated and managed collectively to help execute a proactive CX strategy. The data needs to be turned into proactive and unsolicited proposals to take to your customer, to assure them of a greater return on their IT investments.
Distributors and resellers - you can now be masters of your own destiny. You no longer need to waste time logging into countless vendor portals and tools, or deal with data that may be sitting in silos. Leverage an Installed Asset Lifecycle Management Platform (IALMP) which will consolidate and monetize your data whilst also leveraging product information from all of your vendors. Your IALMP should be scalable enough to grow with your business and intelligent enough to foresee future opportunities and proactively execute next steps on your behalf - not just remind you of a renewal!
iasset.com is the only IALMP available right now with a proven history of enabling distributors and resellers to mine their installed base and expand existing deals into new opportunities, efficiently and cost effectively. iasset.com will help generate hot leads by turning your data into unsolicited and consultative based proposals into your installed base.
Reach out to find out more about how iasset.com can help you establish and execute your lifecycle strategy.