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A new sales tool unveiled this week by Cisco Systems Inc. is designed to help partners reduce deployment and sales cycles for the network vendor’s advanced products and solutions.

Steps to Success, a Web portal, provides resellers with access to sales tips, best practice libraries, chat and phone support, and partner-specific outlines designed to walk VAR sales teams through the sales and deployment process.

The step-by-step guides helped VC3 Inc. of Columbia, S.C., cut 50 hours from a recent Cisco CallManager and wireless handset sale to a South Carolina municipality.

“It gives you all of the tools you need to take you through the process from early discussion to Day Two support,” said Amy McKeown, a VC3 account manager.

“A lot of the front work and templates are there for you … Any time you can come in with a project under what you expected, your profitability goes up. You either beat the hours quoted in the price or you free up your resources to work on the next project early.”

The program also acts as a failsafe, ensuring that every step is met, McKeown said.

“It identifies specific steps to makes sure you don’t miss anything and identifies everything needed,” she said. “You know what material gathering and data gathering you’re going to need before you go in. It ensures that things don’t fall through cracks to endanger the sale or push the project out further.”

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Cisco’s “Lifecycle Services” approach outlines tasks required throughout the technology life cycle—prepare, plan, design, implement, operate and optimize—that the company sees as critical to completing a successful customer engagement.

Cisco’s recent creation of the Foundation Advantage program, which gives VARs and customers incentive to upgrade and replace aging network infrastructure, is one of the steps the company has been taking that seek to capitalize on several factors—aging infrastructure, advanced security requirements and more complicated features—that motivate businesses to procure more sophisticated systems.