Alyssa Fitzpatrick General Manager, Worldwide Partner Co-sell

Eight co-sell tips to help you acquire new customers

Women in business

It’s an exciting time to be part of the Microsoft Partner Network. While the past year has challenged every organization on the planet, those challenges have united the business world as we’ve worked to solve them together. At the same time, forces like the widespread shift to remote work and the rapid adoption of the cloud have accelerated the pace of digital transformation. I’ve been impressed with how our partners have stepped up to create the innovative solutions and personalized guidance our customers so desperately need to navigate these changes—and I’m confident customers will continue to increasingly rely on our partner network as the business landscape continues to evolve. 

One key impact of digital transformation has been a shift from transactional business models to a consumption-based model—and acquiring new customers is a fundamental requirement to stay viable in our subscription-based economy, as I shared in a previous post. Fortunately, our ecosystem is filled to the brim with opportunities to discover and engage with new audiences. However, collaborative selling (co-selling) with Microsoft, sellers, or other partners is often key to unlocking many of them.  

We define co-selling as any collaborative engagement between Microsoft and our partner ecosystem, including building demand, sales planning, sharing sales leads, accelerating partner-to-partner empowered selling, and delivering marketplace-led commerce for customer transformation. Actively pursuing the co-sell opportunities that make sense for your organization can help you access new customers and capitalize on efficiencies through symbiotic partnerships, positioning you to scale rapidly and sustainably. 

Microsoft co-selling: three primary channels  

To incorporate co-selling into your sales strategy, it’s helpful to first understand the three primary co-sell channels in the Microsoft ecosystem. Each comes with unique opportunities and customers for your organization to pursue, including:   

Direct customer: Selling directly to customers helps you to gain exposure to 4+ million monthly active users in 140 geographies, and it enables customers to try, buy and purchase your solutions straight from the source.  

Microsoft partner: You can sell in tandem with and through our powerful partner ecosystem by publishing your offers in Partner Center and inviting other partners to co-sell with you. Partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program have an additional opportunity to make their offers available to other partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program specifically, giving greater visibility and opportunities to co-sell together. 

Microsoft seller: Microsoft sellers can facilitate engagements between partners and customers, generating new opportunities for your organization.  

By thoughtfully identifying and planning around each channel, you can build beneficial relationships with relevant players and customers across the entire network. This ensures that your organization is maximizing its partnership by not leaving any opportunities on the table. 

Eight tips for acquiring new customers through co-sell 

As our partner, we’re committed to your profitability and growth, and we’re continually investing to ensure you have the tools and resources you need to effectively identify and approach new customers. As you navigate the three primary co-sell channels, I recommend keeping the following best practices in mind:  

  • Clearly define your value proposition and target audience: When creating your bill of materials, it’s always helpful to clearly define your solution value proposition and how your solution differentiates you from your competitors. And when building out a business plan ensure you define your target audience by starting with an industry focus and selecting sets of customers from that industry. Once you see some success you can then broaden your scope to other industries and customers.  
  • Include a Microsoft category in your solution name: Highlight the category associated with your solution for better seller understanding of the customer scenario it helps solve.  
  • Keep your bill of materials and contacts updated: Equip the Microsoft sellers and partners with the most relevant customer-facing materials that reflect your current solution and capabilities, and current contacts.  
  • Showcase your customer successes: Customers and sellers listen acutely when there is a concrete example of a successful engagement with your solution. Alignment to industry, technology domain or a decision maker persona will yield accelerated results. 
  • Consider a transactable offer: Transactable offers enable existing procurement relationships and consumption commitments and unlock fee reductions.  
  • Action referrals from Microsoft quickly and utilize the notes field: Establish a rhythm of business for when new referrals come in so the customer is not left waiting—and the faster you can respond the better. Capitalize on the freeform notes field within referral sharing to identify next steps, specific actions and provide background information of the business challenge. 
  • Get help through Partner Center: Access always-on, self-solving support content and articles to unblock your sellers and publishers. You can also make a support request if you need additional answers, and Partner Center is equipped with specific seller help descriptions so you can activate the right type of assistance along your sales cycle.  
  • Maximize your go-to-market benefits: Most successful go-to-market activities have involved both direct tactics as well as channel/partner tactics. Ensure your strategy leverages all co-selling motions with the full Microsoft Partner Network. 

The next steps are simple to implement to get moving on your co-selling journey.  

First – you’ll want to make sure you have joined the Microsoft Partner Network; you will need your MPN ID when you publish your solution. Get familiar with Partner Center. 

Next – after your organization has built a solution, you will publish it in the Microsoft commercial marketplace. When publishing, consider what channels you want to engage with and be discovered by, and ensure your solution meets those requirements. You’ll want to make sure you expose your solution to our seller channel and partner channels in the commercial marketplace to be discoverable for co-selling. 

Then – actively manage the referrals you are receiving from Microsoft and other partners. 

And finally, share co-sell opportunities with Microsoft and register deals if needed. 

Of course, in addition to the resources you see here – you can go to the Microsoft partner website and find co-selling content through the main site. Now is the time to get started and taking these simple steps right away ensures you’re ready to start managing leads, and co-selling deals, as well as get help from within Partner Center. 

It’s an incredible time to be a member of our partner network. The rapid pace of digital transformation is creating new and exciting opportunities on a global scale that our partners are uniquely positioned to capitalize on. While it’s important for all of us to stay focused on our primary goal—meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers—I encourage you to take the time to regularly scan our ecosystem for co-sell opportunities that can help you do so more effectively. I know that as we join forces, we’ll be more empowered to bring unique value to our customers and help our organizations thrive as a result.