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November 1, 2022 |

Cisco Underscores Commitment to SMB Market at 2022 Partner Summit

Recent partner sales and marketing investments are proof the company is serious about SMBs, according to global partner marketing chief Luxy Thuraisingam (pictured), who concedes “we have work to do in enabling our partners to go and capture the SMB space.”

The audience at this week’s Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas will be filled with all sorts of IT providers. Cisco hopes those that sell to small and midsize businesses return home with one clear message.

“Cisco is committed to SMB,” says Luxy Thuraisingam, the vendor’s head of global partner marketing, and its head of SMB marketing as well since about five months ago. “It’s an incredibly important business from a growth perspective.”

Indeed, worth over $4 billion annually now and expanding at a nearly 30% year-over-year clip, SMB is Cisco’s fastest-growing customer segment. According to Thuraisingam, the company has no doubts about what created that momentum or what’s required to sustain it.

“We’re going to win with and through our partners,” she says. “That’s the secret sauce.”

Though some 90% of Cisco’s revenue flows through partners generally, however, Thuraisingam is the first to admit the company has yet to give SMB partners in particular everything they need to find opportunities and close deals.

“We have work to do in enabling our partners to go and capture the SMB space,” she says.

Thuraisingam is helping spearhead that work along with Vice President of Global Distribution Sales Andrew Sage, who added SMB sales to his responsibilities in April, and Alexandra Zagury, Cisco’s vice president of managed services and as-a-service sales. Her most recent effort in that campaign is the launch of a revamped SMB website with simplified, solution-oriented messaging. Though the previous site attracted some 2 million visitors a year, Thuraisingam notes, it did a poor job of retaining their attention.

“We were getting traffic, but they weren’t sticking around,” she says. The former site, moreover, was ill equipped to convert what attention it did receive into engagement. The new one by contrast, collected some 1,600 sales leads in its first 45 days, a 175% increase. “For partners, that’s 1,600 more people coming into their e-commerce engine,” Thuraisingam notes.

Those are on top of the nearly 28,000 leads—worth $744 million—produced in the current fiscal year by Cisco’s Radius Digital marketing service, which arms partners to run a variety of ready-made demand generation campaigns. “Our job is to make sure they have all the content to drive the campaigns, and it’s all digital, which is why it’s working,” Thuraisingam says.

With the new website in place, Thuraisingam’s next priority is ensuring that partners have the resources and know-how to follow up on any leads Cisco sends their way. “We’re really doubling down,” she says of Cisco’s enablement programs, citing hybrid work and security as especially relevant topics for training and marketing materials. 

To promote solution-oriented sales in those and other categories, Cisco introduced new solution specializations for hybrid work, hybrid cloud computing, hybrid cloud networking, SASE, and other topics during its Partner Summit today.

Sage, for his part, is using incentive programs like Perform Plus Activate, which debuted earlier this year, to further drive solution sales to SMB end users. Backed by what Thuraisingam calls “double-digit millions” in funding, the new offer targets partners with $75,000 to $200,000 in annual bookings.

According to Thuraisingam, much more remains to be done in Cisco’s quest to grow SMB revenue through SMB partners. “Honestly, I think we’re just getting started in terms of how we invest,” she says.

Also at Partner Summit today, Cisco announced the addition of biometrics-based passwordless authentication to its Duo identity and access management solution and the addition of data loss prevention functionality to its Cisco Umbrella suite. The company also introduced the Secure Firewall 3100 Series, its first firewall line specifically designed for hybrid work scenarios. An initial member of the new product family, the Secure Firewall 3105, includes sizing options for branch offices.

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