Strive to Thrive, Don’t Hope to Survive Previous item Cisco Partner Summit... Next item Cisco ONE is a Game...

The soccer team I coach has been fairly successful. Not perfect, but I’m proud that the team generally wins more games than it loses…and continues to improve.

But recently, we’ve found ourselves falling behind in matches.

In circumstances where the team is struggling while having recently been successful, we don’t man the team with fewer players. We don’t challenge players to only play with one foot. We don’t turn our backs when the ball approaches, and we don’t stop playing until the game changes itself.

We might not always recapture the lead, but we adjust and utilize our resources differently to find new ways to counter the difficult circumstances. We become stronger in the face of loss.

Economic analysts and pundits welcomed February, predicting a 40% chance of a recession. I suppose that shouldn’t sound alarming because it also means there’s a 60% chance there won’t be a recession.

But soon after the announcement, financial news networks showed with regularity, guest after guest talking of job cuts and productivity decreases. That sounds like a hoping to survive strategy. It also sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy—if you cut your talent, of course your productivity will decrease. Hoping to survive generally ends up with you falling even further behind. If you’re clinging to a tree branch, you need to fortify your position, not hope the branch holds you long enough until terra firma reaches you.

There will be some companies utterly daunted by even the slightest hint of a downturn in the economy. Some will play ostrich and bury their figurative heads in the sand until the storm passes. Some will do a dump and run, benching and cutting the very talent they had hired and presented as their business differentiators.

A surprising few will look to more efficiently and effectively leverage resources from both themselves and from their partners. Those few are the ones who are striving to thrive.

Consider this: If you took one step forward while everyone stood still, you’d be ahead. In this scenario, you’re potentially looking at a chance to take steps forward while everyone takes a step backward. It’s like starting a race on set while everyone else waits for go.

That’s separation. That’s differentiation. That’s a competitive advantage. That’s striving to thrive, not merely hoping to survive.

So let’s start now. Utilize your existing talent and leverage your dynamic value partnerships (DVP). These are opportunities to expand your resources and talent pool at the pace your pipeline demands and to enable and create more opportunities.

Do more now. Strive to thrive. Be smarter about expanding efficiently for specific needs.

Here are a couple of examples of this strategy. Consider the first example where an opportunity was brought to Comstor by a Cisco 2-tier partner. The partner faced a scenario where they were offered a project that called for a delivery timeline concurrent with another project on which most of their delivery professionals were already staffed. They could have hired additional full- or part-time staff or could have just passed on the opportunity. Instead, they engaged Comstor to provide integration and configuration services on the new project. Their resulting bid was cheaper than the competitor’s and after winning the project, their delivery timeline was shortened using Comstor’s configuration services, and they did not have to disrupt the staff who were already working on the older project.

The product was shipped further along in the delivery process, met the client’s timeline more profitably than initially anticipated, and all without ever hiring another team member. The client liked it. Cisco liked it. And, the bottom line liked it.

My second example references a situation with a Cisco Direct Value Added Reseller (DVAR). Their Account Managers (AM) were concerned that their sales cycles were too long for them, as well as for Cisco and the clients, because their talented pre-sales engineers were backlogged and often unavailable.

One AM there said, “I would sell more Cisco if we had more pre-sales support here.” Rather than hire more pre-sales engineers, the partner maintained its flexibility and began leveraging Comstor’s Pre-Sales Engineering team to support their AMs in identifying migration paths, developing competitive solutions to other manufacturers, responding to requests for proposal (RFP) and validating the bill of materials (BOM). This increased the pipeline, accelerated the sales cycle, improved the close rate and grew revenue and profitability without hiring more team members.

For most people, threats tend to be stronger motivators than opportunities. But, advancing before the threat can position you to thrive, rather than forcing you to simply hang on, hoping to survive.

Leveraging resources like Comstor’s Dynamic Value Portfolio (DVP) can enable partners to scale with more flexibility, gain competitive advantages, strengthen businesses and position companies for greater success no matter what the economic environment may be.

Similarly, my soccer team doesn’t back down or give up during a tough game; they adjust to approach the challenges differently, still striving to win—to thrive. Doing so will only make my team better in the future.

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