Why Cisco is Adopting a Commission-Based Partner Sales Model

“[Agents] are not new to this cloud, source of recurring income and live in this world in some cases long before us,” Kristyn Hogan told Channel Futures.

Cisco channel leaders define the referral agent partner model as the key to accessing low-end customers.

Cisco on Tuesday announced a new partnership with technology solutions broker Telarus. This agreement follows an alliance signed by Cisco with Intelisys last summer. Both agreements give business partners the ability to sell Cisco Webex on a commission-based model. Although many vendors have already offered Cisco-based solutions to agents, many of the agents’ largest customers have asked to interface more directly with Cisco. On the other hand, many of Cisco’s traditional VAR partners were asking for a more cost-effective way to deal with small customers.

Cisco’s Kristyn Hogan

Cisco vice president of collaboration partner sales Kristyn Hogan said adopting the agent model expands the vendor’s business footprint and gives customers more flexibility.

“It was an opportunity for us to unlock a whole new set of partners and really listen to our customers about how, where and who they want to buy from,” Hogan told Channel Futures.

Hogan said hybrid working has led to more customers seeking Cisco’s offering.

“It really opened up a much bigger market for Cisco, especially Cisco collaboration,” Hogan told Channel Futures.

Specifically, Hogan said low-end customers, which Cisco doesn’t normally deal with, are more interested than ever. And agents could serve as a bridge to those customers.

“These are people who have spoken to clients that we have never spoken to historically. And these are customers who all need a hybrid work solution more than ever,” Hogan said.

Enter Agents

This brings us to driver #2: expanding Cisco’s partner base. It’s not just about expanding in terms of customer volume, but also expertise. Specifically, agents know how to sell subscription offers.

“They’re not new to this cloud, recurring revenue route and have lived in this world in some cases long before us,” Hogan said.

Jolene Langford of Athenium

Jolene Langford of Athenium

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins recently said the company earned just over $3 billion in software subscriptions when he took the helm in 2015. That figure rose to $12 billion in the fiscal year. 2021.

“I think this decision reinforces what a lot of people already knew, which is that Cisco has been a bit slow to move away from the hardware business,” Jolene Langford, founder of Athenium Technology Group, told Channel Futures. She said a customer had requested Webex in the past five years.

Langford said she was enthusiastic.

AireSpring’s Shane Speakman

“It’s always been a bit unfair that VARs can sell Cisco and be agents. But pure-play agents like me couldn’t sell Cisco. So it evens out the rules of the game.

Telarus vice president for UCaaS, Shane Speakman, said agents will play a key role in helping Cisco enter the cloud communications market.

“They just don’t see cloud adoption through some of their traditional channels, and they really see this channel as the future of cloud sales,” Speakman said in an interview with Channel Futures on Tuesday.

However, many of these agents have sold rival collaboration deals over the past decade.

“The agent community has been selling against Webex for years,” said Kate Jaffe, who leads business development and strategic consulting for Helm Partners. “By making Webex a commissionable offering, Cisco now gets…

Aurora J. William