Everything You Need to Know About Lifecycle Incentives

By Giacomo Spagnoli, Service Delivery Executive, Vortex 6


During last year’s Cisco Partner Summit Digital 2020, Cisco unveiled its new streamlined partner program. The re-structure represented the biggest shift made to its partner program in a number of years, with Cisco introducing one united program for partners of all kinds.

The revamped program is not only greatly simplified, but it highlights and rewards the variety of roles partners play with their end customers, especially as many partners shift to focus on lifecycle, managed services, and everything-as-a-service opportunities. As many Cisco partners move on from predominantly selling hardware, the program encourages partners to focus on lifecycle and recurring customer opportunities, aligning with the shift in Cisco’s priorities.

At Cisco Live 2021, the company announced its formal strategy to address the new ways of buying and consuming its hardware, software and services. Cisco Plus is the vendor’s “new brand for cross-architecture solutions designed to be delivered as-a-service”. Cisco has predicted that more technology-driven solutions will be purchased and consumed using a subscription business model. With this, customers have the flexibility to turn off subscriptions or switch to alternative providers far more easily compared to the days when significant upfront capital investment was required. For this reason, the new program places extra emphasis on partners delivering recurring customer value.

Supporting the Full Customer Lifecycle

To maintain a lasting customer relationship, Cisco introduced a business framework called Customer Experience (CX). Companies that conduct business in line with this framework will be focused on the value and outcomes customers can gain from the services they purchase, which has a positive impact on customer loyalty.

The CX framework has since been added as a business specialization alongside the more familiar technology specializations which Cisco partners can achieve by meeting specific criteria. For partners to achieve the CX and Advanced CX specializations they must demonstrate that they have the resources and behaviors in place to support the full customer lifecycle, from initial enquiry through to renewing a subscription. In return for this investment and commitment by the partner, Cisco introduced a rebate incentives program which we refer to as Lifecycle Incentives. This enables partners to earn additional capital to reinvest in their businesses.

Managing the Lifecycle Incentives Program

The Lifecycle Incentives Program is more complex than traditional rebate schemes such as the Value Incentive Program (VIP). Instead of rewarding partners for the initial sale, which is primarily how VIP works, Cisco partners earn their rewards throughout the different phases of the customer lifecycle, with the biggest incentives linked to the customer’s business outcomes. To earn the rebate, partners must first prove that the customer is utilizing the solution and, secondly, that it is meeting their business objectives. Therefore, partners must take a proactive approach when managing the Lifecycle Incentives program.

There are numerous time-sensitive actions that partners need to take to unlock the rebates, typically by the end of the quarter:

  • Determine which of their customer opportunities meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Identify the specific rebate opportunities associated with the products sold and calculate the amounts to claim.
  • Perform the required actions such as product activation, submitting Customer Success Plans, agreeing business outcomes with the customer, submitting claims to Cisco, etc.

The Missing Puzzle Piece

The actions required are undoubtedly time-consuming, but essential for partners to maximize their benefits from Lifecycle Incentives. Ultimately, Cisco wants to reward partners through different phases of the customer lifecycle and in order to achieve this, partners need to be proactive in understanding what rebate opportunities exist and the actions required to unlock these. This is where our specialist advisory team come into play and joins up the dots. We conduct all of the preparatory work for partners, presenting a list of incentive opportunities with prioritized actions required in order to maximize the rebate potential. If partners simply execute on the actions, they can earn the rebate.

Suitability for Cisco Partners

So, which partners will benefit the most from Lifecycle Incentives? All partners can claim the USE incentive provided the deal meets the minimum requirements. USE incentive is linked to product activation and replaces the activation bonus previously introduced in the VIP program. However, only partners with CX or Advanced CX specializations can claim the ADOPT incentive. This is where the largest incentive rewards can be earned, which introduces more layers of complexity. Therefore, partners with either CX or Advanced CX will benefit the most from our solution.

Make Complex Simple

Partners who subscribe to our solution can expect a consultant-led report to be presented on a monthly basis. The report contains pre-qualified client opportunities for the best possible combination of incentives available with specific actions outlined to unlock the rebate. Given the tight timeframes with the program, we ensure all deadlines are prioritized as required.  Put simply, provided the partner completes the actions we define, they will earn the maximum Lifecycle Incentives available per quarter. To date, the results for partners we work with have been staggering, with all achieving a positive ROI and, in some instances, recovering previously unknown rebate exceeding $100k.

The Value to Cisco PAMs

Currently, many PAMs are investing significant amounts of time promoting the benefits of CX to their partners and helping them navigate through the Lifecycle Incentives program. Our role is to provide support to PAMs, perform much of the heavy lifting and enable partners to improve profitability and ROI from their investment in CX. As a result, the PAM is more successful as their partner’s relationship with Cisco strengthens and Cisco business grows. The PAM also has less demand on their time helping partners understand the program and where they qualify for rebates.

If you’d like to find out more about our Lifecycle Incentives solution, and how we could help you increase your rebates, visit our page: http://vortex6.com/lifecycle-incentives/