Q&A: Linksys' New SMB Channel Program
Linksys executive Nigel Williams discusses the companyâ€™s new SMB channel program and its impact.
You might think of Linksys, a division of Cisco, as only a consumer networking vendor. Linksys is taking several steps to change that impression, however. At a recent press event, the vendor detailed its move into the SMB market segment (i.e. companies with 100 or fewer employees are Linksys' target market) with a new program called the Linksys Partner Connection (LPC). Nigel Williams, VP of worldwide channels at Linksys, shared the following specifics about the LPC program, which went into effect Aug. 1, 2007.
What's changed with Linksys that makes this the right time to reach the SMB market?
For nearly two decades, Linksys has delivered communications solutions to the consumer and small business market segments. Due to the dramatic growth in both market segments, Linksys reorganized in 2005 into business units that created greater expertise and specialization in meeting the needs of each market segment. Thus, the Linksys SMB unit was formed. In 2006, with a new business unit and product strategy in place, Linksys changed the SMB unit's name to the Connected Office Business Organization (COBO).
The COBO develops and delivers a set of products and solutions that provide small businesses with a migration path/investment protection for future solutions. The COBO offers customers the opportunity to choose from a set of stand-alone Business Series voice and data products along with Linksys One Ready products. Together, these products and solutions provide plug and play, remotely configured and monitored solutions for secure data, voice, and video when placed under the Linksys One hosted solution from partners.
Linksys and Cisco have a broad SMB product portfolio in the industry, and that's a key competitive advantage, especially when you factor in the Linksys-to-Cisco trade-up program and now the linkage of the Linksys and Cisco partner program that unites Cisco SMB Select and Linksys registered partners with a common communications, registration, and marketing model.
What are some of the primary reasons Cisco VARs who already resell other vendors' SMB solutions should consider moving to Linksys SMB products?
Cisco and Linksys will be rolling out a Unified Partner Program that will enable Cisco VARs to tap into the benefits of reselling Linksys solutions while Linksys VARs will have training and migration paths to become Cisco Select Certified partners. Also, if an SMB customer invests in a Cisco SMB product within three years of its Linksys product purchase, Cisco will protect the customer's investment with a cash rebate of up to 100%.
Since Linksys goes to market via so many channels (e.g. brick-and-mortar retailers, e-tailers), how will you avoid channel conflict with your VARs?
Linksys values the integrity of the channel and therefore does not sell direct nor sell its small business solutions in retail outlets. Business Series are sold through value-added distributors (VADs), VARs, and DMRs (direct market resellers). However, with the LPC program, VARs will receive additional discounts and specialized programs that will enable them to become more competitive and profitable. For example, Registered Partners can earn up to 30% discounts off Linksys list prices, and Business Elite Partners can earn up to 34% off. Business Elite Specialized Partners receive all the benefits of Business Elite Partners, plus they receive free access to Linksys tier-one technical support resources. The new Linksys partner program is value-based and rewards partners regardless of size or business model.
How will Linksys leverage its alliance with Cisco's products, services, and programs?
Cisco and Linksys are working on the alignment of our partner programs to help our mutual partners drive growth opportunities in the SMB market. The establishment of a value-based LPC program will lay the foundation for ongoing collaboration between Linksys and Cisco. Initially our aligned channel strategy will focus on linking our registered partner base and integrating our distribution capabilities. We also intend to automatically link Cisco Certified Partners and Linksys Business Elite partners in the near future.
Our distributors can develop programs that span the Cisco and Linksys brands and SMB product portfolios, driving growth opportunities for our integrated partner base and doubling Linksys' global reach. Cisco has approximately 150 distributors globally that cover every region of the world, which is nearly double Linksys' current coverage.
Nigel Williams is the VP of worldwide channels at Linksys, a division of Cisco. In this role, Williams is responsible for the global strategy that supports the Linksys sales and marketing channels for its line of small business solutions. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more info about the Linksys Partner Connection program, go to www.linksys.com.