Rant: Who is Cisco’s Customer ? Me or the reseller ?

I resent the fact that Cisco partners get more information than Customers on Cisco’s website. I think this shows who Cisco thinks the Customer really is. But what special powers do resellers have that makes them more effective ? How does withholding information from Customers give a better outcome ?

My quick thoughts ? Many IT resellers are not competent enough to be business and need a head start to be useful to customers. Without some sort of “special needs” assistance, they wouldn’t be in the race.

Is that too harsh ? IBM and HP don’t rely on resellers to win business and do just fine that way. IBM & HP resellers have to be good enough to survive, not propped up with remedial programs for poor practices. So why does Cisco do it ?

The Reverse Condition

Resellers provide a valuable resource to customers by providing a service that Cisco cannot. For example, resellers offer mixed vendor platform support – say HP servers on Cisco networks, or Windows Desktop support as part of a full spectrum service. A reseller has a unique blend of multidisciplinary skills that give the Customer end to end support.

Cisco wants to work with these partners to provide solutions to customers, in preference to dealing with customers directly.

The EtherealMind View

The word “reseller” tells you a lot about the nature of the business – they buy something and sell it on. Although there are partners who significantly add value to customer networks, my experience is that the vast majority do not. Some thoughts:

  • They don’t make enough profit to invest in engineers or reward staff appropriately. Cisco has screwed reseller margins down to levels that no business can readily support.
  • Resellers tend go out of business every five to ten years because their value is limited and thus are not rewarded with good profits by Customers.
  • Resellers often switch vendors according to where the profits are and abandon customers in the process and thus lose customer loyalty. In the long term, Customers stop trusting the reseller.

If Cisco really believed in the power of the reseller and their own great products and pricing, they wouldn’t have a sales force keeping tabs on what I’m doing. Those phone calls from the Cisco Account Manager to check when the next purchase order is coming shouldn’t be necessary if the reseller industry is working well. The quarterly check-in from the overworked Sales Engineer wouldn’t sound like a “tick in the box” for his quarterly assessment.

I’m a Customer, I want the best possible support and service for my money. I’m pretty sure that for some or even most of us, it’s isn’t by using a reseller.

Where are MY choices ?

  • Guest

    Your choices are: Foundry, HP, Juniper, or one of the many, many other excellent network hardware vendors out there.  I made the choice to switch years ago, and haven’t looked back.  Cisco *really* doesn’t want your business, so why give it to them?

  • http://www.facebook.com/justinswilson Justin Wilson

    Cisco probably thinks the average customer need their hand held.  I know many instances where a reseller has implemented Cisco gear and the end customer has no clue what it really does.

  • http://twitter.com/sysgeekguy Chris Fricke

    We’re having the same problem. Reseller gets the initial “big deal” and now we can’t get phone calls returned without calling the mothership to tattle on them. Now we’re tasked with finding another reseller that will provide a better partnership. If we have to call Cisco to get anything done, then why are we working with resellers? The problem isn’t unique to Cisco either…

  • Chris Church

    I couldn’t agree more.  Their partner model is antiquated and fragmented with too many competing and overlapping interests.  Becoming a partner is an expensive and time consuming process.  Navigating the myriad of different programs and portals is maddening.  Staying a partner is a huge time-suck and slim margins make the entire process risky.  The reason you don’t get phone calls from your reseller is they are too busy figuring out how to deal with Cisco.

  • http://twitter.com/ccie15672 ccie15672

    This is true of multiple vendors.  Be as open as possible with documentation and known bugs/caveats/restrictions.  Publish configuration maximums too.  If the internet and open-source have taught us anything… it is to be open and direct about such things.

    edit: And while were at it, they should be giving books and training away… and scaled down versions of products that can installed on VMs or PCs so people can touch it and get used to it.

  • earnestfarewell

    Cisco may not have the nerve potential to handle with user problems, or they have no desire to handle it. Most people need constant help with every computer product.

  • Sick of this blog

    Your anti-Cisco rhetoric is so old and tired.  If you are going to criticize, you should at least have a clue what you’re talking about.