Ingram does Cisco exclusive

Ingram Micro Canada is taking partnering to a new level. The distributor, based in Mississauga, Ont., has entered into an exclusive arrangement with Cisco Systems Canada to help the networking giant recruit partners for the small-to-mid-size business market.

Together the two companies have crafted a program called Advanced Partner Builder, which will attempt to educate resellers in developing advanced technology practices and building unified voice communications, wireless, security, and other routing and switching solutions for the SMB market.

“This program is not a distribution program. It is a Cisco-Ingram exclusive,” said Mike Gazdic, vice-president of vendor management for Ingram.

The reward-based plan will help partners earn Cisco’s Express Foundation and Express Unified Communications specializations.

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The goal of the program, according to Martin Kalsbeek, the vice-president and general manager of Ingram Canada, is to attract 100 partners across Canada. With the soft launch of this program in January it is already half way there.

Kalsbeek said that more than eight months ago Ingram recognized there would be a great opportunity in the SMB space with Cisco.

“This was a conscious effort (to partner with a specific vendor) and we will see similar programs as we go forward in 2006,” he said.

The Advanced Partner Builder plan will have boot camps so partners can achieve Express specializations. They will consist of one-on-one mentoring, a week of instructor-lead training and access to a global knowledge online study guide and reference library. Tests will be self-administered.

Cisco, based in Toronto, has already realigned its sales team around the commercial SMB segment as its fastest growing market segment. SMB adoption in Cisco advanced technology is even outpacing the market, said Rick Graham, director, channel programs for Cisco Canada.

Graham said Cisco Canada has added 25 new people for inside sales and marketing for this initiative.

“This is a growth program that is focused on the commercial and advanced technology areas. The key thing is for Ingram and Cisco to focus on partner enablement so that they can differentiate themselves in this space,” Graham said.

One of the keys to the program is appointing a champion from participating partners who will be the primary point of contact for Cisco sales and technical teams. The champions portion will be part of the Advanced Partner Builder’s technical training module. Cisco and Ingram want to further develop partner knowledge of advanced technologies such as wireless, unified communications and security.

One of the differences with this plan is that partners will be able to schedule these training sessions at their locations. Also at these sessions will be market and opportunity strategy development.

The program is free and product financing has been made easier, Gazdic said. The program will have a fast approval process and some of the terms have been simplified, he said.

“This is the first complete offer for SMB and the mid-market partners with products, services and financing all at the same time. We tried to make it a one-stop shop with a whole offer for this segment,” Gazdic said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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