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Cisco dangles rebate carrot before resellers

The networking gear maker launches a financial incentive program to spur sales to smaller companies overseas.

Networking gear leader Cisco is going after new small and medium-size customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East through a financial incentive program for resellers.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company announced on Monday that it has launched the Opportunity Incentive Program to provide rebates to channel partners that are first to register and close deals with new clients. The financial rewards are intended to help defray the presales cost of finding and working with potential customers.

"The Opportunity Incentive Program is designed to help enable Cisco and its channel partners to increase market share in selected market segments," said Edzard Overbeek, a Cisco vice president in commercial, channels and distribution for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "At this time, we're focusing primarily on the commercial space." Cisco is specifically targeting resellers that sell gear to small and medium-size businesses.

A pilot of the program was conducted in late May in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Poland. Most of the deals secured during this pilot program were for IP communications, network security and wireless projects, Cisco said.

The incentive program will be introduced in other countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, starting this month. To register a new opportunity, channel partners must provide certain details, including information about the decision maker, the budget and project specifications. Cisco then approves the registration based on whether or not it truly is new business with a totally new client. Resellers have 90 days to complete the deal in order to receive the OIP rebate.

Cisco recently announced other programs to address the small and midsize business market. In July, it announced the SMB Select Partners program, that differentiates these partners selling to that market from those pitching to enterprise customers. In addition, it is partnering with Microsoft to offer more products for this market. Last month, the networking gear giant released a software product that will link its voice over Internet Protocol products with Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) software.