ChannelVision Magazine

The first is that partners pay to get certified. The certification programs that were put in place in the 1990s were both about education on prod- ucts and technical knowledge to hold a position in the IT department of a company. In other words, it wasn’t just about Cisco; it was about best prac- tices in networking and troubleshooting. These certification programs launched a whole industry. They also became requirements for jobs. This meant that these companies, these vendors, had brand ambassadors in every company. Were you going to champion Linux or UNIX over Microsoft if you were a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)? What brand of switches and routers is a Cisco Certified Net- work Associate (CCNA) going to opt for, Juniper or Cisco? These partners eat the dog food. (The National Science Foundation [NSF] programs from Microsoft ensured that Microsoft partners used – and then promoted – MS products.) The next component is the most important: Demand. Cisco and Microsoft create demand for their products. They have two of the most recognized brands and companies in the world (which brings up the third thing missing from most provider’s partner program). They market to great demand – and the partners are there to fulfill that demand. In telecom, the demand has to be created on the street by the partners (with a few rare excep- tions such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon). Cisco and Microsoft partners design their business around the vendor. Some may also have HP or Dell or Xerox lines of business, but the majority of the business is about the main vendor. Sales are targeted around Cisco in order to maintain status with the vendor. The manu- facturer status – Gold, Silver, etc. – provides for discounts, market development funds and levels of support. The support level is paramount for the success of the partner. Microsoft often jokes that every time they change something, their partners earn reve- nue. Installation, repair, maintenance, hosting, By Peter Radizeski Lessons fromLeaders E veryone wants a channel program as successful as Cisco and Microsoft. But not everyone provides the three big components that trigger the success of those programs. channel management Why your channel program is not like Cisco’s and Microsoft’s Channel Vision | March - April, 2018 54