Wanting to capitalize on what it says is a $61 billion global opportunity with SMB and midmarket companies, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) announced Partner Plus, an extension of its Partner Led program aimed at partners serving in the midsize space. Cisco announced the initiative at the Cisco Partner Summit 2012 in San Diego, Calif.

Partner Plus offers Cisco channel partners benefits based on their engagement in the program including cash rebates, "virtual engineering" and marketing and enablement materials. To be eligible for the program, partners must be certified and meet minimum partner-led revenue levels in partner-led accounts as well as certain engagement criteria such as working with Cisco on a business plan and having a minimum number of account managers and sales engineers.

"This is all about the growth opportunity," said Andrew Sage, vice president of Partner Led at Cisco. "Partner Plus focuses on the opportunity for partners to be more effective and productive."

The benefits of Partner Plus, according to Cisco, include:
  • Incentives: Cisco Partner Plus partners will receive cash incentives paid at the end of each quarter
  • Virtual Engineering: 24x5 access to presales support by sales engineers with specialties in collaboration, virtualization, security, mobility, routing and switching. Services will include configuration, bills of material, design and architecting assistance, product and competitive research and virtual sales calls
  • Customer Intelligence: Cisco's new Sales Collaboration Platform, based on the Salesforce.com platform and Cisco's Jabber business social media platform, will include opportunity tracking, joint visibility by both Cisco and its channel partners' sales forces, customer intelligence and "closed loop" marketing.
  • Marketing and Enablement Activities: Partner Plus partners will have access to premium training, sales leads, demand generation, marketing materials and other offerings to help them grow their midsize customer base.
Partner Plus is slated to roll out in the United States and Canada in May 2012 and globally in August 2012.