Cluster learning challenges the channel to go beyond compliance

Cluster Learning, a specialist channel-focused provider of Cisco training services, is calling on the IT channel to go beyond simple compliance with the requirements of accreditation and focus more on the development of true competency and improved sales results.

The UK-based company, which recently had 27 of its courses accredited for Cisco’s Enabling Architecture Sales Excellence (EASE) promotion, says that the channel as a whole needs to approach training as a way of stepping up to a higher level of capability that will enable them to build more confidence and deliver positive outcomes for their business.

Matthew Hathorn, CEO of Cluster Learning, states: “We are 100 percent focused on channel enablement but believe that if partners want to add tangible value to their business, it’s vitally important to go beyond the attainment of an exam pass or accreditation. We train sales people on how to sell and technical people how to deploy technology. This approach is highly effective in enabling both commercial and technical disciplines within the partners and producing positive and tangible results.”

In recent years, a number of market drivers have seen the emphasis shift towards a ‘box-ticking’ type of training, designed to get partners accredited as quickly as possible. “The ‘boot-camp’ approach is fine and does have its place,” says Hathorn, “but we believe that, as well as being able to pass an exam, partners need to look at the business impact of training and continue to improve the competency and capability of their teams. We encourage them to go further and develop the soft skills that will help them to communicate with decision-makers and build a better understanding and closer relationships.”

Cluster is currently developing for a series of specialist videos that will show delegates not only how to prepare for and pass exams, but also how to spot opportunities and sell architecture-based solutions to high-level strategic decision makers. It will also cover soft skills such as negotiation, assertiveness, objection handling and problem solving, and thus enable individuals to build their own and their customers’ confidence.

Cluster Learning provides a full range of Cisco-enablement courses for resellers and IT professionals. The company develops all of its own course material and delivers training through a range of methods, including classroom-based and online learning. It also makes extensive use of its unique Cisco Labs facility to provide course delegates with access to the very latest Cisco core networking, unified communications and data centre technologies. Earlier this year, Cisco approved 27 of Cluster’s sales courses for EASE promotion, which offers partners Cisco funded training for sales teams.

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