Acquiring new customers and building demand for your solution - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

Acquiring new customers and building demand for your solution

Colleagues meeting in a conference room

As you transform into a cloud subscription business, it’s more critical than ever to add customers. And the faster, the better. Cloud subscription economics mean that your survival depends on it. The fact is, we’re all being measured—whether by Wall Street or analysts—on our customer acquisition rate.

Because acquiring customers is at the top of our partners’ priority list, we’re especially focused on empowering you to do it as efficiently as possible. We also want to be sure customers are connected with companies that are best suited to meet their needs. We’re still in the early days of this transformation to cloud technology, and the preliminary winners in the competition for cloud customers will have a significant advantage. We know it will be much harder to lure customers away from another cloud solution provider than to win their business in the first place.

As I noted in a recent blog post, once you have a market-ready solution, it’s critical to establish a clear value proposition and craft a message to evangelize your differentiators. Next, it’s time to find customers and build demand for your solution. Here’s how:

1. Make your solution available in more places

Strategically opening additional channels can help the right customers find your offerings and engage with you. Consider showcasing your solution on platforms that let you tap into new pools of customers—just remember to verify that you’re targeting the right audience first.

As a Microsoft partner, you can connect with millions of customers and partners around the world by publishing your app or service in the Microsoft commercial marketplace via Azure Marketplace or Microsoft AppSource. Once listed, you can tap marketing resources to increase awareness of your solution, along with sales and technical support. By publishing your solution in the commercial marketplace, you’ll access the right marketing resources, reach new customers, and leverage robust analytics to evaluate and optimize the performance of your offerings.

Entering new geographies can also significantly increase your customer base, which is why so many of our partners are doing just that. Wherever you are on your global expansion journey, we’re here to help. You can start by assessing your readiness to enter or expand your business into other geographies using this self-assessment.

2. Establish a pipeline of leads and referrals

We know each of your wins contributes to the mutual success of our partner network as a whole. That’s why we’ve invested heavily to give you opportunities to source leads directly from Microsoft and other partners.

As Judson Althoff, our Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business, shared during his 2019 Inspire keynote, “This year alone, we unlocked more than 8 million new customer contacts…we’ve invested more than a million hours this last fiscal year alone in our inside sales opportunities curating those opportunities so we could pass more than a quarter million leads out to our partner community.”

Establishing a sustainable pipeline of transactable leads is key to the long-term viability of any organization. By using the partner network to source leads and share referrals, you can save time and resources and help your organization scale faster – in the short- and long-term. Even better? You’ll build relationships with other companies that can develop into mutually beneficial partnerships.

3. Grow through partnerships

As part of the Microsoft Partner Network, you have access to other partners to explore synergies. Once you’ve found a match, we’ll help you establish a relationship and craft your “better together” messaging. Be sure to explore these and many other Microsoft partner benefits in our partner-to-partner resources.

Be on the lookout for new opportunities. It’s important to search for companies with customers that could benefit from bundling your solution with their existing package, or where combining resources could result in cost-reducing efficiencies.

And don’t forget to investigate your current partnerships for growth opportunities, too. Ask yourself:

  • How can you and your partners better serve your shared customers?
  • Where do you see opportunities to pursue new revenue streams together?

Partners that have taken advantage of our partner-to-partner programs have seen incredible results. In her 2019 Inspire keynote, Corporate Vice President Gavriella Schuster shared that partners transacting our Cloud Solution Provider program (CSP) were seeing 40 percent year-over-year growth. And as our team recently wrote, “Collaborating with other partners to deliver integrated solutions that address unique customer needs can increase your revenue by up to 20 percent (IDC) and uncover new business growth opportunities.”

Microsoft also works with our partners to provide collaborative selling (co-sell) opportunities. As Dan Truax, General Manager of Partner Digital Experiences and Programs, explained in a recent blog post, partners that co-sell with Microsoft and other partners in the network can access a broader customer base and scale more rapidly as a result.

4. Be smart about your marketing

Over my two decades of marketing directly to customers and assisting with marketing efforts for our partner channel, I’ve seen the role of marketing evolve. Now that marketing is digitized and trackable, you can prove its value with hard data and get smart about how you engage with new customers. It’s important to understand the behavior of your target customers so you can interact with them where they are—like on their favorite social channels—in the right way.

Make sure you’re continually evaluating your efforts to see what’s working and where you need to improve. As your partner, we’re here to help with intelligent digital tools you can use to personalize and continually optimize your marketing. Many marketing resources are available to all our partners, and you’ll unlock even more as you grow your partnership with Microsoft. To review and access what’s available to you today, visit the Microsoft partner website.

Once you experience the symbiotic power of the Microsoft Partner Network, you’ll expand access to your solution across channels and geography, establish a robust lead and referral pipeline, and sharpen your marketing capabilities. Most important, you’ll set your solution and organization up for stronger and more sustainable success. We’re committed to help every step of the way, and I know we’ll achieve more both individually and holistically as we work together.

Keep up on what other partners are doing with Microsoft Go-to-Market at @MicrosoftGTM


  • Sarah Muckler-Visser
    Global Director, Go-to-Market, Global Partner Solutions

    Sarah Muckler-Visser joined Microsoft in 2012 to lead Worldwide Health Marketing after 15 years in Health IT product and marketing management. As worldwide Director, Go-To-Market with Microsoft, Sarah drives the world’s largest through-channel marketing engine in the IT cloud market. With a strong commitment to the Microsoft Partner ecosystem and the innovation partners bring to customers, Sarah is focused on accelerating growth for Microsoft and its partners. Her vision is to drive a world-class go-to-market digital marketing experience and digitally transform operations through industry-leading marketing technology, enabling Microsoft partners to grow their cloud business at scale.