How Partners Are Redefining the Way Microsoft Sells in a Cloud-First World

Cloud computing

… adjust the product, add and suppress features, and change licensing terms in real time. That may be a step forward if you’re a partner, but such flexibility enables Microsoft to make hundreds of changes every year to services, interfaces, terms and the rest. Keeping up, which is already a challenge, is becoming nearly impossible. Here, too, an experienced indirect provider can make the difference, filtering and tuning the signals coming from Redmond to match the needs of the resellers they serve.

The channel’s been pushing Microsoft for a simpler partner experience for years. Two years ago, Microsoft sported more than 150 partner programs, but the One Commercial Partner organization is cutting that by 96 percent, to just six core programs.

A sustained commitment to understanding and engaging with these programs, whether they’re used in your business or not, will be critical to future partner success. For example, One Commercial Partner aims to sell with partners much more successfully than in the past with, for example, a new customer success unit.

But if you’re not connected with the Microsoft teams in your territory and tuned into their needs, don’t expect to reap the benefits of “sell with.”

We’re not talking leads here — this is about team selling that involves Microsoft and potentially multiple partners collaborating around a single customer, industry or segment. Indirect providers play a key role here as well, connecting their smaller resellers to the Microsoft field to serve enterprise and small-to-medium corporate customers.

All this change ultimately is in the service of what Microsoft calls digital transformation, and that transformation can’t happen if it’s based on a weak or flawed understanding of the customer’s business. It’s the channel that owns the deep customer connections Microsoft needs to carry the CSP and One Commercial Partner initiatives forward.

For partners, that means it’s time to refresh your understanding of where customers are in their cloud journeys and what they need to take the next steps. Frequent customer contact and ongoing renewal of your trusted-adviser status and the credentials that make Microsoft’s channel the most valuable IT asset on the planet, plus engagement with Microsoft and/or an indirect provider, will position technology service providers of all types to flourish.

Wishing for the old days and waiting for things to settle down won’t do. You wanted change, and now you’ve got it.

Scott Paul is senior director, Microsoft Alliance, at AppRiver, a global provider of cloud-based cybersecurity and productivity solutions for businesses.

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