In November of 2014, Cisco delivered a noteworthy presentation at the CLO Symposium about how the company had customized its Learning Management System (LMS) to enable its global channel partners. Cisco's Partner Education Connection or PEC was the portal for its global partners, who used it to access live and recorded training and product and program content such as how-to guides and product specifications.
Cisco and its partners also use the site to track progress toward certifications and find answers to questions. Considering Cisco's channel contributes $40 billion to the company's revenue, it's not surprising to learn that the PEC was supported by a sizable staff and budget. That allowed the company to build out a partner learning solution that was not only quite robust but also years ahead of what was generally available. For example, Cisco created mobile apps that allowed partners to search and find answers while on-site with customers, which helped them fix problems and close new business much faster.
These investments paid off well: The PEC had a real impact on the business, returning $72 in value for every $1 spent!
Cisco's top ten booking partners at the time were some of the heaviest users of the PEC. Most PEC users were outselling non-PEC users by 2x, but PEC Gold partners were outselling non-PEC Gold partners by seven times.
How can we increase partner sales?
The million-dollar question is: Can your organization achieve a two-to-seven times sales increase through a partner learning portal? Absolutely. However, to be successful, one needs to take a comprehensive approach, which goes far beyond pushing training to your partners and tracking their completions in an LMS. You will need an approach like Cisco's, covering formal training, informal learning and mobile access for performance support. But fortunately, you don't need Cisco's budget or IT expertise to implement an effective solution because, in the years since 2014, LMS vendors have made great strides in modernizing their platforms.
Let the modern LMS help boost your partner sales
This modernization has made life easy for the learner, letting him or her know what courses must be completed, recommending content and providing company and product news. Modern LMSs also provide the opportunity to interact within social groups and mobile clients to access the just-in-time learning that can save time and deals. As an example, Saba, which powers the core learning management capabilities in Cisco's PEC, now provides one of the most capable solutions with robust social and mobile functionality and, through its partnership with streaming video provider Panopto, offers enterprise-grade video capability. These platforms are nearly all cloud based, so getting them going and maintaining them is something that most learning or channel teams can handle.