Originally written by David Wills, Corporate Vice President, US One Commercial Partner. Find him on LinkedIn here.

One of the questions I get asked most often is “What does it take to be a successful Microsoft partner?”

In response to this, our team got together and came up with a set of the top attributes of our most successful partners, based on what we’ve learned from observing and speaking with partners who have achieved sustained, high business performance. Over the years, we’ve noticed commonalities in how these partners operate their businesses and work with us at Microsoft. While this is clearly not an exhaustive list of everything our top partners do to perform at a consistently high level, these attributes definitely make a difference.

Five Success Attributes

Customer Obsessed

I admire companies that are fanatical about customer experience and success. Customer obsession is the foundation of being a great partner. It’s about deeply understanding your customer, their pain points, and the value they want to deliver to their customers. Customer obsession is also about understanding how a customer measures success, including their stated objectives and unarticulated needs. And then being maniacal in helping your customers achieve their business outcomes. During the general session, Alex Brown, CEO of 10th Magnitude, a three-time Partner of the Year Award winner, shared three customer obsession tenets: understand, listen, and anticipate to help your customers gain a competitive edge.

Differentiated Value Proposition

Having a clear, differentiated value proposition is about understanding what you do better than anyone else on the planet. Clear differentiation in the marketplace is key to standing out among the millions of partners offering technology products and services worldwide. Your value proposition must be something you can easily explain and is well-known and understood by your team, as well as the customers and partners you do business with. We heard how Microsoft partners Axioma and Health Catalyst differentiate themselves by creating transformative solutions in the financial and health care industries. We also learned about Rackspace’s secret to standing out as a managed services provider through differentiated customer service.

Alignment with Microsoft

This success attribute is critical to successful partnering with us. Aligning with Microsoft requires a deep understanding of our overall strategic vision and direction. It’s not necessarily about running a Microsoft-only business, though we certainly appreciate that. It’s about finding the key areas where your business goals and our business goals align and focusing on those areas for mutual benefit. Having a growth mindset is essential, just like our 2019 US Country Partner of the Year Award winner Quisitive. Their CEO, Mike Reinhart, talked about the company’s phenomenal growth and how they successfully align with Microsoft. Some key takeaways: understand what the various partner programs are and how you can leverage them to help your customers achieve their business outcomes.

Leverage the Ecosystem

As mentioned throughout Microsoft Inspire, from Satya Nadella’s keynote to the US Area General Session, there are millions of partners around the world. The most successful partners collaborate to solve real business problems and drive outcomes for their customers while expanding their capabilities and growing their business. Leveraging the ecosystem is about focusing on customer outcomes, looking for complementary solutions with other partners, and delivering value together. We’ve created new tools that make Partner-to-Partner (P2P) collaboration and co-selling more powerful. During our US Area General Session, we saw how CDW connected with Microsoft ISV’s Veeam and Citrix to collaborate on new customer solutions and accelerate their businesses.

Cultural Alignment

One of our core values at Microsoft is having a growth mindset – we want to be “learn it alls” instead of “know it alls.”  We’re focused on creating a culture that brings everyone along as we learn and includes perspectives that reflect the diversity of our customers around the world. That’s what building a culture of inclusivity is about, and it’s a journey we’re on.  We see a growth mindset and a focus on diversity and inclusion in our most successful partners as well. One of the areas of inclusivity we’re focused on is gender parity. And a key effort around that is the community-led Women in Cloud initiative. This global movement supports female technology entrepreneurs in capturing the $B’s in cloud opportunity by providing access to resources such as funding and investments, mentorship, and more. At our Microsoft Inspire event, Women in Cloud co-founder Chaitra Vedullapalli talked about the growth of the movement and how it’s enabling the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

There you have it – a summary of the five attributes of our highly successful Microsoft partners.


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