Maximizing sales opportunities with the Microsoft Partner Network

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Partners of all shapes, sizes, and industries are on a journey as they progress through building innovative solutions, taking them to the marketplace, and selling. While no partners share the exact same journey, and each is shaped by unique factors, understanding the opportunities and resources that are available in each stage can help you maximize your membership in the Microsoft Partner Network. 

This is the fourth and final post in a series that explores what’s available in each stage of the partner journey to ensure you have everything you need to thrive. In previous posts, we’ve taken a deeper look at key resources, experiences, tools, and programs that can help you build and differentiate your organization. In this post, we’ll walk through some of the primary sales motions and opportunities that partners should be taking full advantage of throughout their journey. 

Effectively bringing your solution to the marketplace 

Once your solution is built, you enter the go-to-market stage of the partner journey. At this point, you can publish your offer in the Microsoft commercial marketplace and begin selling. The commercial marketplace encompasses publishing into the product catalog, Azure Marketplace, Microsoft AppSource, in-product purchase experiences, the Cloud Solution Provider experiences for reselling, and Microsoft’s sales team tooling. It can open opportunities to connect with millions of customers and partners around the world, and while it requires a similar investment of time and resources to any other sales channel, it can become a powerful lifeline to help scale your business. 

As our partner, you have access to a variety of marketing resources to help you successfully take your solution to market and sell to customers. These are designed to provide the guidance you need to differentiate your organization, acquire new customers, and generate demand for your solution. 

Complementary digital marketing resources are available to Microsoft partners, while partners with silver and gold competencies and/or ISVs with a co-sell incentive eligible offer unlock additional go-to-market offers. You can access everything you need to support robust marketing plans around Microsoft Azure, Business applications, Modern work and security, including: 

  • Digital Marketing Content OnDemand: Generate leads and connect with more customers with pre-packaged, customizable social media and digital marketing campaign content.  
  • Smart Partner Marketing: Build your marketing foundation with access to top-tier industry trends, industry and market research, and best practices.  
  • Partner Marketing Center: Find solution-specific marketing, sales, and readiness materials for your business needs with our digital marketing content library.  
  • Sales Enablement Platform Microsoft: Amplify your marketing presence and customize your content from within your Office applications with the Office plug-in to Qorus Content Hub.  
  • Geo-expansion webinar and readiness assessment: Initiate growth into new markets and drive scale of strategic solutions with Geo Expansion resources.  
  • Microsoft Partner Community (MPC): Connect with other partners and Microsoft experts in a global online community designed to drive partner and Microsoft business conversations.  
  • Partner Go-to-Market Toolbox: This new online platform provides the support you need to effectively co-market with Microsoft. Get started in the GTM Toolbox with a personalized marketing and then create an unlimited number of co-branded assets that are already aligned with Microsoft solution messaging through customizable templates—anytime, anywhere, and in 10 different languages—based on your marketing initiatives.  Partners with a gold competency and/or ISVs with a co-sell incentive eligible offer are the first to be able to access it. 

You can visit the Microsoft partner website to learn more and get started today. 

Co-selling with the Microsoft ecosystem 

One of the primary benefits of working with Microsoft is the opportunity to sell with Microsoft and other partners throughout the ecosystem. Co-selling can be an effective way to access new pools of customers and build relationships with other companies that can grow into symbiotic partnerships.  

As General Manager Worldwide Partner Co-sell Alyssa Fitzpatrick explained in a previous post, “co-sell is our end-to-end selling engagement with you, from the initial stages of onboarding into the Microsoft Partner Network, building your solutions, publishing to the Microsoft commercial marketplace, and engaging in Partner Center, to sharing referrals and working with Microsoft and other partners to close deals.” Co-selling includes any collaboration between members of the Microsoft ecosystem including generating demand, sales planning, sharing sales leads, accelerating partner-to-partner empowered selling, and delivering marketplace-led commerce for customer transformation. When you co-sell with Microsoft and other partners, you can increase your discoverability, deliver your expertise, and expand your footprint. 

When it comes to the commercial marketplace and our co-sell initiatives, we have seen tremendous momentum. We have been able to jointly sell more than USD22.1 billion in partner services since 2018, and we have shared 170,000 opportunities with partners in fiscal year 2021 through our sales organization. We’re also being more intentional with how we approach co-selling with the medium enterprise and small business segments. 

You should think about how you’ll co-sell from the very beginning and do everything you can to use that context to streamline your product. When building a solution, it’s helpful to understand how a company like Microsoft thinks about its solution areas—for example, if you’re working on a Microsoft Azure solution, it can be helpful to know about the associated sales plays and capabilities. Partners can also benefit from understanding how vendor companies focus on and pitch around solution areas. This additional context can help prepare your organization to collaborate more effectively as you begin selling, both direct to customers and in collaboration with other members of the ecosystem. 

Flexing your marketing muscles to co-sell more effectively 

Once you’re ready to sell with Microsoft or another partner, it’s important to consider how you can repurpose your go-to-market engine to enter the co-sell motion smoothly. When marketing a solution, many partners make the mistake of developing their pitch around their company instead of the solution itself. To set yourself up for the most success when selling with the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s important to keep in mind that a salesperson is likely to be most interested in how the solution can resolve an issue for the customer. Pitching your company’s value proposition alone is often not enough. 

The first step for any company is to publish an offer through the commercial marketplace, which is how partners provide the assets and information they need to co-sell with Microsoft or other partners. As part of the publishing process, you provide a one-pager and pitch deck for your solution, which sellers can use to share your offer with customers. Sellers rarely have time to make adjustments to these materials, so it’s critical that they spell out your value proposition clearly. 

It’s also important for your organization to ensure you have your best foot forward in a cloud services business model. Today, we refer to our collective cloud offering as Microsoft Cloud for a reason. It’s not just the individual solution areas, like Microsoft Business Applications or Microsoft Azure—these elements work together to form a holistic cloud ecosystem. Because customers are opting for these one-stop solutions, joining with other partners to package and market a suite of specialized expertise can be particularly powerful and help you to meet the complex needs of your collective customers. 

These collaborative partnerships can solve complex customer needs, or they can be as simple as working together to conquer a language barrier. For example, a Germany-based Dynamics 365 partner had a customer who requested a partner that can speak French. The German partner has an office in France, but their representative wasn’t fluent in French, so they needed to find a partner in the automation industry that speaks could bridge that gap. Microsoft helped to pair them with a French-speaking partner, and the experience was so successful they established an ongoing working relationship that has continued to-date. 

Realizing value from the Microsoft community 

Partner-to-partner links you with the global partner ecosystem and has a multiplier effect. Microsoft has thousands of partners specializing across the technology and industry spectrum. Linking up to this network makes it possible for you to access a vastly greater customer ecosystem, including markets that you might not be able to address on your own. The right partnerships open the door to unlimited opportunity. 

New this year is the ability to invite another partner to join your sales cycle and jointly participate in your customer opportunity with Microsoft. This can be done through Partner Center. We’ve also standardized on a partner discovery tool where you can discover and engage with other partners to build joint campaigns and run demand generation efforts together. We strongly encourage you to fold this into your FY22 strategies to create new channels and expand your customer base. 

ISVs who publish transactable solution listings in our marketplaces can choose to provide access to these solutions to tens of thousands Cloud Solution Provider resellers across the globe – a ready-made distribution channel to dramatically increase sales velocity.  

Partner-to-partner examples are inspiring and many partners wonder how they can initiate relationships with other partners that can lead to mutually beneficial opportunities. A great way to foster these relationships with the rest of the ecosystem is to participate in Microsoft partner communities.  

Partner communities include digital and partner-led groups that are designed to support partner-to-partner engagement and business conversations with partners and Microsoft. As Microsoft General Manager Dan Truax said in a recent post, “By consistently engaging with the various communities within our network, you open the potential for referrals, co-sell opportunities, and mutually beneficial partnerships with Microsoft and other partners.” 

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that Microsoft is currently evolving its commerce experience to deliver a better platform for customers and partners, as well as a streamlined purchase experience that offers greater flexibility regarding how and where customers buy. As shared previously, we’re distinguishing between large accounts and small and medium businesses (SMB), as these customers typically have different requirements.  

  • Large accounts: Often multinational accounts with multiple affiliates and multi-tenant requirements. The primary purchasing motion is the enterprise motion, where offers, experiences and economics are optimized for eligible customers with complex needs including large corporate, enterprise and public sector organizations. Partners play a key role in this motion, particularly with building, consulting, and advising our customers.  
  • Small and medium accounts: Tend to have more need for partners’ IT expertise and managed services, and they typically have fewer purchasing and deployment decision-makers. The primary purchasing motion is the breadth motion and customers are serviced primarily by partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program. Partners own the end-to-end customer relationship and have control over pricing, partner-provided support, and service delivery.  
  • Self-service: Representing customers of all sizes, large and small, individuals or individual departments. In these cases, the individuals procuring the technology know exactly what they want and how they intend to try or buy the service. Purchases are made online via a web portal or through an assisted self-service motion. Partners can provide added value on specific workloads or other advisory services.  

When looking for potential partnerships, think through how another partner could potentially open opportunities within an untapped purchasing motion. The right partnerships can help cross-pollinate your efforts and expedite unlocking new pools of customers. 

The Microsoft Partner Network is powerful, and by taking advantage of every opportunity available to members you can set your organization up for both immediate and long-term success—and your wins benefit the entire ecosystem. As we work together, all of us will be better positioned to grow faster, learn more effectively, and become more innovative as we strive to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. Thank you for your continued partnership; we can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish together. 

Read part one, "Choose your own journey with the Microsoft Partner Network," of our blog series.

Read part two, "Utilize key resources to support your partner journey," of our blog series.

Read part three, Engaging with customers: building and differentiating your organization, of our blog series.