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Cisco to help fund SMB VARs, expand sales support for vertical-market specialists

Hoping to drive traffic in fast-growing vertical markets and the skyrocketing SMB, Cisco has added a new program of sales support for VARs in financial services, education, healthcare and government, and expanded a funding program aimed at small- and mid-sized customers.

Cisco Systems Inc. plans to announce on Monday a pair of new channel programs designed to push more product by offering better financing to smaller companies and offering closer relationships to picked companies within specific vertical industries.

The Cisco Vertical Select Program will provide sales, training and market support to systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) in markets including financial services, healthcare, education and state and local government.

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Large companies with sophisticated technology requirements prefer to work with partners that have deep expertise within their industry, according to Chuck Robbins, segment vice president for U.S. and Canada Channels at Cisco, who was quoted in the announcement.

Vertical Select is a way to identify companies that have the greatest expertise and lend additional sales and marketing support to help make them even more successful.

To qualify, channel companies have to be nominated by their Cisco channel account manager, be a Premier, Silver or Gold certified partner, have five customer references from the vertical market involved, have a sales team dedicated to that market, and register a business plan with the Cisco Partner Program Business Planning Tool for the same vertical industry. Partners can participate in the program in only two vertical industries.

In return for membership, which must be renewed annually, partners will have access to third-party consulting services, industry specific training, marketing and demand-generation programs, co-funding of marketing campaigns, customized demand-generation collateral, and professional lead-generation assistance from eCoast Sales Solutions.

Cisco will also make available customer success stories, permit attendance at Vertical Select events, provide a partner hotline, and provide other sales tools and information.

More information is available here. 

Funding SMBs

The SMB program focuses primarily on funding. Specifically, the Cisco Systems Capital division of the company, has raised the ceiling on the quick-approval leases it makes available to smaller companies.

Cisco's EasyLease program, which was launched last year, was designed to fast-track the approval of credit and lease arrangements for sales under $250,000.

Cisco will now allow partners to use EasyLease and the @once tool that generates lease documentation and eases credit applications for deals under $50,000.

The company has also extended the zero-percent loan promotion it has been offering to help fund the out-of-pocket expenses of channel partners specifically in Cisco Unified Communications voice over IP deployments. Under the program the channel partner pays installments at project milestones, the customer doesn't begin to pay the lease until the deployment is finished, and there is no interest for the first six months.

As much as 80% of a deal can be funded under the program, but the transaction itself has to be higher than $50,000.

More information is available here.


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