…from a Partner’s Point of View
With Microsoft Inspire now complete and a new Microsoft Partner organization now in place (One Commercial Partner), I wanted to follow-up on the keynote messaging and executive summaries and provide a bit of practical guidance on the actions, documents and deliverables that I would produce as a Microsoft Partner to effectively engage and fully leverage Microsoft’s new model.
In the communication shared by Microsoft, the new OCP organization includes three primary ‘engines’ to help power the Microsoft Partner Channel.
Build With – this engine is designed to help Partners Build new solutions & services that can then be launched as a new Partner Line-of-Business or Practice. Build With is designed to engage both existing and new Partners based on each Partner’s potential
Go-to-Market – this engine helps Partners market and generate demand, as well as leverage the programs and incentives provided by Microsoft to help support Partner profitability and sales success.
Sell With – the Sell With team is focused on effectively connecting Partners & Solutions to both the Microsoft Sales team and the current pipeline of active, qualified opportunities. This team also engages with both Partners & P-Sellers to drive sales and technical performance.
These engines and the ‘Partner First’ approach have been well received by Microsoft Partners. To complement the OCP changes, Microsoft has also simplified their customer segmentation and engagement, with a smaller portfolio of ‘managed customers’. In addition, the new model includes a significant investment by Microsoft to stand-up a global Inside Sales organization and to add technical resource to support both Cloud sales and consumption.
While all of this is good news for Partners, the significance of the change may be lost if Microsoft’s Partners don’t clearly understand how to effectively Build With, Go-to-Market and Sell With Microsoft; and that my friends, is the reason for this blog post
the significance of the change may be lost if Microsoft’s Partners don’t clearly understand how to effectively Build With, Go-to-Market and Sell With Microsoft
Build With Microsoft
Microsoft has spent most of the past year investing in their Build With team. Primary evidence of these investments came via the Partner Development Unit (PDU) with a primary focus on increased availability of technical resources. In the new OCP organization, Microsoft is doubling-down on Partner Practice Development with the integration of the PDU, Developer Experience and other Technical Enablement resources into a single team; focused on building new solutions and new Partner practices.
The objective underlying this investment is clear. Microsoft understands the significant value that accrues to Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics365 whenever a new Partner or new Solution appears on the Microsoft Cloud Solutions Map. And, given Microsoft’s collaborative business model (including Open Source and other, historically competitive solution partners / offerings) the Build With muscle of Microsoft clearly needed to be strengthened.
Not all partners will (or should be) managed by Microsoft’s Build With team. Those Partners who are actively building new and significant Cloud solutions & services and those Partners who continue to transact with and manage the majority of Microsoft’s Annuity Customer base (EA Customers) will quickly ascend to the top of the Build With list. Some great examples of the Partners & Solutions where Build With resources may be applied were highlighted in Judson Althoff’s Keynote @ Inspire. Of course, I have my own favorites selected from the many Partners across Microsoft’s Asia Partner Channel, including:
When the GEP Leadership Team established their strategy to digitally disrupt procurement, they bet on Azure as their primary platform to build the applications and create a new digital procurement community.
Plexure provides an Internet of Things (IoT) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integrated experience; ensuring seamless customer interaction supported by real-time IoT information feeds.
Yunboard, created by Microsoft Partner YunGoal, enables Cloud Workload pricing, migration, management and billing. Workload Virtualization (VM management) is really not so compelling; but enabling an integrated management experience across Azure, AWS and Ali is super cool.
For these Partners and others who engage with Microsoft’s Build With Team, I would recommend that you take the following steps – for each New Solution – to maximize the value of your relationship:
- Establish Scope & Scale of your new solution and fully leverage the technical, marketing, financial and sales resources provided by Microsoft. If you need help aligning your solution with a strategic workload / practice, please refer to the Microsoft’s Practice & Scenario framework:
- Assign responsibility for your Microsoft Partnership to one, strong leader in your team with a regular (quarterly) review of all resources, incentives and programs that you are leveraging in your Build With partnership.
- Licensing Partners: Document your Annuity Sales Calendar. OCP is designed for a Partner First sales model. So, if you are a Licensing Partner (LSP) for Microsoft, I would recommend that you document and review YOUR Annuity Sales Plan with the Microsoft Build With Team. If you’re not clear what should be included in an annuity sales plan, for each of your annuity (EA) customers, please include:
- A 6 Month Calendar showing due dates for all Annuity Agreements
- A 1 Month grace period prior to contract end date to allow for documentation, agreement updates and close
- A recommended portfolio 2 or 3 of solution sales for each annuity customer, to maximize both the revenue and customer value of each renewal
Go to Market with Microsoft
Microsoft’s Go-to-Market Team has two primary objectives; (1) to provide marketing guidance and expert advice to ensure that Partners fully leverage Microsoft marketing to maximize demand generation and build a consistent pipeline of sales opportunities and (2) provide partner communications and guidance on the use of Microsoft programs, incentives and offers to maximize business performance and partner profitability.
From my experience working with many Microsoft partners, marketing is an area where additional investment, increased expertise and improved execution is clearly required. By fully leveraging Microsoft’s new Go-to-Market team, you stand a good chance of driving a step-change in your marketing efforts via the following steps:
- Review Microsoft’s Marketing Plan via workshops or 1:1 engagements with the Go-to-Market team. Microsoft has great content and a clear plan to market each of their strategic workloads. To fully leverage Microsoft’s marketing engine, make sure that you understand what will be communicated, when and to whom. Then build on this, creating distinct content and unique communications to clearly distinguish your solution & services. To make sure that you understand the details of Microsoft’s Marketing, I would recommend a 1:1 session with your Partner Marketing Advisor. And, I would ask the PMA to discuss and review details of Microsoft’s internal marketing plans, documented in the Microsoft Marketing Playbook.
- Publish & Execute Your Integrated Digital / Account Based Marketing Plan. To maximize the value of your marketing investments, I recommend integrating both digital and traditional marketing content and activities; producing an integrated marketing plan. To simplify your marketing plan, I would create both content and a calendar to cover an entire 6 month period, with marketing content and communications constantly flowing into market, via multiple channels, on a weekly basis.
Marketing Activities & Content
Integrated Digital Marketing Calendar
- Finalize Marketing Investments & ROI Targets. Before launching your Integrated Marketing Plan for each Solution offering, please take the time to finalize investments per campaign and a corresponding ROI. While many marketing teams measure their success in terms of qualified leads, I recommend establishing ROI targets linked to total revenue with a minimum return on investment of 10:1.
- Request Co-Funding from Microsoft. While marketing dollars may not always be available, I would always ask Microsoft to co-fund my marketing initiatives based on the ratio of total revenue that will be generated via an ‘average sale’ of each go-to-market solution.
In addition to the Partner Marketing Guidance and Execution support available from the Go-to-Market Team, you may engage Microsoft’s Partner Channel Marketing Managers (PCMMs) to better understand and leverage all the programs, offers and incentives made available to Microsoft Partners. To maximize the incentives captured via your Partner certification, Marketing and Sales efforts, I recommend that your Go-to-Market Leader engage with the appropriate Microsoft PCMM and:
- Establish Programmatic Goals to maximize your Microsoft Partner Benefits (example: MSDN and Support Benefits available with Partner Technical Certification. Review these goals and your progress against each as part of your regularly scheduled Partnership review meeting rhythm.
- Document and Publish customer-ready Solution Proposals that include a detailed accounting of all Microsoft incentives, offers and investments. Inclusion of these incentives in any customer offer is, of course, your decision. However, by publishing updated customer-ready proposals (we recommend quarterly updates), you ensure team awareness and are more likely to capture of all applicable incentives. These incentives also create compelling purchase decisions for your customer, improving close rate and overall value of your solution.
Sell With Microsoft
Finally, we’ve made it all the way to Sell With. As we move opportunities through our Sales Pipeline to Close, there are a number of actions that may be taken to improve your Close Rate and Net Revenue on each Solution Sale. In this section, we highlight the details of successfully working with the Microsoft Sell With team.
- Identify & Engage your Channel Managers. In Microsoft’s new OCP model, there are 2 (or more) people that you will want to immediately meet. These are your Channel Managers. ECM for Enterprise Partners and TCM for Small, Medium and Corporate Customers.
- Establish your Channel Manager Business Rhythm. Sales Teams perform best when a regular rhythm is established to ensure collaboration and clarity in all sales engagements. When ‘Selling With’ a Microsoft account team please ensure that your primary Sales contract (P-Seller) is well connected with the Microsoft sales plan and account team. This type of Sales collaboration will NOT require ongoing engagement by your Channel Manager. Instead, I recommend that you get to know our Microsoft Sales Teams and their team rhythms.
- Review, in detail, Microsoft’s Partner Solutions Map to ensure that your solutions, your target market (industry & customer segment) and your services are properly represented. Microsoft continues to work on the tools required to represent a global solution map, so in the mean time, please ensure each subsidiary map correctly represents your solutions & services. If you are not familiar with the Microsoft Partner Solutions Maps, a snapshot is provided below:
- Establish Partner-to-Partner Sales Agreements with each of Microsoft’s Licensing Partners. Licensing Partners will vary as you move from one country to the next, so it’s important to work closely with your Sell With team to establish the right P2P relationships.
There you have it.
A concise list of Actions to maximize the value of your Microsoft Partnership leveraging the strengths of Microsoft’s new One Commercial Partner organization. Appreciate your comments and look forward to your success!