2 min read

Have unified communications for the price of a coffee a day

Cisco Capital wants partners to lead with a per user, per day price when pitching UC to the SMB

You can buy a computer and health insurance for the cost of a coffee a day. Now, Cisco Capital wants partners to let small and medium businesses now the same also applies to unified communications.

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) has been making a big push around unified communications (UC) in the SMB space and Maryann Von Seggern, director of worldwide channels for the vendor’s financing arm, Cisco Capital, says affordability is often seen as a barrier when entering that market.

To overcome that carrier, Cisco will be encouraging partners to break the cost of a UC solution down to the per user, per day cost and lead with that number when pitching a potential client to stress the affordability of moving to UC. Von Seggern says it’s “a whole new approach” to selling Cisco UC in the SMB space.

“It’s basically taking whatever the partner’s UC solution that they’ve worked-up and bringing it down to a per-user, per-day cost,” said Von Seggern. “It just makes the packaging of it look much more affordable to an SMB customer.”

Customers will still be billed on a monthly basis and lease terms will be the same as before, with a minimum term of 12 months. While she admits it is mainly a marketing approach, Von Seggern says she believes getting partners to lead a little differently with financing will pay dividends.

“(Our partners) are technical experts and their primary mission is selling technology,” said Von Seggern. “Providing them with tools and offers and resources that can make their jobs easier, and to especially get over that hurdle with an SMB customer, affordability, is crucial.”

To support the new push around per user, per day UC pricing Cisco has also rolled-out a series of supporting enhancements to its grow i.t. partner portal. The enhancements include an updated, self-service online commercial quoting tool that lets partners generate their own customized per-user, per-day pricing quotes as well as co-branded marketing materials to help partners take the approach to market.

An updated Cisco Capital operational guide has also been posted, as has a series of brief videos available on demand for partners on topics such as sales strategies, financing basic and financing trends. While Cisco offers lengthier in-person classes for partner at its offices, Von Seggern says partner feedback indicated while partners found the information valuable, they couldn’t afford their staff being away from the office for even a four-hour class.

“The initial response has been stupendous,” she says. “Partners love that these are available.”

As 2008 advances, Von Seggern says Cisco Capital will have a “maniacal focus” on improving operational processes, including getting quotes out faster and paying partners in a timely fashion. It will also be focusing in enhanced communications, improving training, and rolling-out more partner-centric offers.