Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 101

April 15, 2020

#101 Winnie Zeliger Why You Should Focus on Partner Delivery

Winnie Zeliger, Partner Delivery Executive at Cisco, joins Chip Rodgers on this Ecosystem Aces episode.

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It’s no secret successful partner delivery is a vital part of any thriving ecosystem.

So, it’s imperative to make sure your partners are trained and capable to deliver quality total solutions to your joint customers.And when your company derives 90% of your business from partners, partner delivery is your lifeblood. 

Our guest today is Winnie Zeliger, Partner Delivery Executive at Cisco, where the 90% figure holds true. So, of course, Cisco is absolutely devoted to partner success and has established multiple partner-facing teams.

There are teams dedicated to supporting partners with selling, but Winnie and her team are entirely dedicated to serving partners on the delivery side of the equation. And they’ve seen outstanding results. 

In this episode, Winnie shares:

  • Why success is built upon the success of your partners
  • Why partner delivery deserves your full attention
  • Why listening to, and encouraging, partner feedback is the key to winning partner programs

Partner success is Cisco’s success

Cisco is a very large, very successful corporation. And partners are critically important to that success.

In fact, around 90% of Cisco’s business — including hardware, software and services — is sold through partners. So, it should come as no surprise Cisco takes its responsibility to support its partners seriously.

Cisco has created a customer experience organization with a lifecycle track, wherein customers are taken “around the racetrack,” pitstop by pitstop, in order to help them decide what to purchase and go through the onboarding, delivery, expansion and optimization process. 

Cisco’s goals have led to numerous partner-facing roles within the organization, including Winnie’s, which is primarily focused on partner delivery. 

Why Cisco is focusing on partner delivery 

Winnie’s organization within Cisco is entirely devoted to supporting partner delivery and helping to build capabilities.  

She’s heavily involved in ensuring partners are able, capable and trained to deliver, while also supporting them in areas like adoption and optimization after the purchase has been made. All of which she hopes will eventually loop back to renewals and refresh opportunities. 

Cisco has honed in on improving partner delivery through certification levels for partners to indicate to customers their capabilities in specific delivery areas. The company also offers “Ask the Expert” sessions, which are one-to-many webinars or in-person sessions Cisco delivers to enable partner capabilities in a specific architecture. 

And to get even more hands-on, Cisco has implemented accelerators, which provide one-to-one coaching sessions to partners. These sessions typically have one support engineer working on one project or use case. 

“It's really about bringing partners along so that we're creating the right partner model, the right offers and the right support model — all based on partner feedback.” — Winnie Zeliger

For Winnie, these accelerators are already ensuring partners are trained and able to deliver quality solutions for their joint customers. But, down the line, they’ll be a game-changer when, eventually, partners get certified to deliver accelerator sessions, themselves.

Feedback is the key to delivering value to partners

As Cisco has incorporated these elements into its partner programs and embarked on  this whole new partner model, the company has never lost sight of ensuring its partners’ needs are heard.

And for Winnie, feedback is the key to managing a successful ecosystem. She says since Cisco stepped up its game listening to partners about a year ago, the entire program has become a greater success.

Now, she’s anxious to get more opportunities to listen and get as much feedback from partners as possible in order to make sure Cisco is delivering value to its partners. 

To achieve this, Cisco has implemented partner models — which were, themselves, a product of collaboration with partners — in which partners can make their needs from Cisco clear.  Additionally, Cisco helps its partners with financial modeling to ensure they are able to make money every step of the way. 

Winnie sees this level of engagement with partners almost as an extension of product management — and Cisco is constantly running pilot projects with partners to garner more feedback.  And the myriad victories Cisco has seen as a result are why Winnie’s number one piece of advice for everyone in the partner space is to listen. 

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about partners, he can be reached by:

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