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Cisco, GreatAmerica Want to Finance Hardware Sales for MSPs — Necessary?

GreatAmerica Financial Services just announced the release of Life-Cycle Financing in conjunction with Cisco.

Allison Francis

May 15, 2019

4 Min Read
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GreatAmerica Financial Services, the commercial equipment finance company, on Wednesday announced a new MSP-focused program in conjunction with Cisco. The program, called Life-Cycle Financing, is a new financing solution designed to help MSPs add service-related options to their hardware sales.

The idea is to bring simplicity with as-a-service to complex technology solutions; basically, Life-Cycle Financing bundles a complete solution that would have otherwise spread a transaction thin over multiple agreements and invoices.

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Ingalls Infosec’s Jason Ingalls

“MSPs gain access to a finance option for certain hardware sales that makes it easier for their clients to just pay for the whole kit and caboodle monthly,” said Jason Ingalls, founder and CEO of Ingalls Information Security. “This option smooths out what could otherwise be a very bumpy initial cost for technology refreshment, net-new and add-on infrastructure.”

This GreatAmerica and Cisco mashup, which has been in the works for several months, has created a streamlined approach to consolidating most of clients’ IT expenses. This is designed to help MSP partners be more efficient, and therefore more competitive.

“This powerful sales enablement tool is the soul of convenience for MSP customers who want a streamlined, easy-to-understand way of providing the technology they need,” said Wil Meggers, general manager and vice president for the unified communications & IT division of GreatAmerica. “While Life-Cycle Financing is designed for Cisco resellers who incorporate Cisco and Meraki products into their product stack, it accommodates MSPs who rely on multiline products for their solutions.”

Life-Cycle Financing sweetens the proposal process by helping MSPs quote their offer using MSP quoting tools, like ConnectWise Sell and QuoteWerks. It also allows Cisco resellers to tweak and customize their program with options to enhance things like branding, cash flow, asset tracking and managed services billing.

Meggers says that end users today expect their MSP partner to super-simplify stuff; that is, to take complexity and make it simple. To put it simply …

According to Meggers, the Life-Cycle Financing program checks that box.

“By bundling hardware, software, subscriptions and managed services into a single invoice, the Cisco MSP community has the power to craft their very own as-a-service model,” said Meggers.

While this can certainly be seen as a win-win-win for the MSP community, it’s worth taking a look at this sort of financing play in general, what MSPs want and need in that area, and the other side of things in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Ian Richardson, founder and CEO of Doberman Technologies, takes a look at it from the SMB standpoint.

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Doberman Technologies’ Ian Richardson

“It’s an interesting, yet not super exciting announcement … yet,” says Richardson. “It just sounds like a normal GA deal with some marketing fluff around it. I’m all for making Cisco more accessible to the SMB, but speaking as a Cisco partner, the overall price of equipment is usually above what makes sense for the sub-50 user business to spend. Put a different way, there are a lot of more cost-effective options on the market.”

Richardson goes on to say that GreatAmerica already provides financing for a deal with Cisco in it; it already has financing integrations with quoting tools and already helps with branding.

“So … I’ll reserve my excitement until …

… after I take a look at the whole offer, said Richardson. “Now, if they’re making the agreement floatable between end users, helping Cisco simplify Meraki licensing transfer [and so on] – that is a big deal.”

Eric Rieger, president of WEBIT Services, speaks to the client side of things, and whether or not this tool addresses customer needs.

“We have used GreatAmerica for a few finance deals and we have their service plugged into our QuoteWerks quoting tool,” said Rieger. “That being said, the majority of our clients are doing well right now and are paying cash for their hardware upgrade projects. We do a fairly good job of meeting quarterly so they can plan. Today in particular we had a meeting with a client that has to replace about half their network this year and they declined to even talk about financing. So this isn’t something that would have a lot of appeal for our particular situation.”

Rieger also says that [hardware-as-a-service]-oriented MSPs could end up having their valuations hurt because of this sort of play. “We tried HaaS many years ago and the clients didn’t like it and it was more of a pain for us.”

Interesting sides of the coin to consider here: Is the tool valuable from a financing solution standpoint, or is it fluff? As Ian Richardson puts it, MSPs will have to make that call when they examine the deal.

GreatAmerica is providing Life-Cycle Financing to eligible MSPs in the U.S. who are registered to sell Cisco products.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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