Microsoft Inspire is done and dusted for the year, and it is clear from this year’s event that times have changed during my 20 years working in and around the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft is more partner focused than ever before. Gone are the days when getting visibility and sponsorship for Independent Software Vendors felt like an insurmountable challenge amongst all the noise and action. Microsoft Co-Sell partner program which was introduced a year or so ago is gathering legs and is becoming a key component to their growth strategy.
Microsoft’s Co-sell program for me, is a stroke of genius, and Microsoft’s secret weapon in the battle for cloud supremacy. In the increasingly competitive three-horse race of Cloud providers, differentiation between them is becoming hard to find –price, security, flexibility, dev ops are all relevant factors. But are these factors important enough to convince an ISV to categorically choose one Cloud Provider over the other? It is rarely clear-cut.
So, what can Microsoft offer to ISVs that other cloud providers cannot – their account access…… vast and global account access. Whilst Microsoft may not be in every single organisation on the planet, it is not far off, and for each of those accounts, there is a relationship already in place.
Microsoft Co-Sell Program effectively opens up this account access to ISVs that are in the Cosell program in an effort to:
1) Help build out Microsoft’s partner eco-system and
2) Provide genuine revenue value to its ISV customers on top of providing its core Azure Cloud Platform service.
Microsoft is also putting its money where its mouth is with this program ($250m USD this past year). Account teams receive quota retirement on successful Co-sell deals and the relatively new role of the ECM (Enterprise Channel Manager) is solely measured on helping Co-Sell Partners sell their products together with Microsoft. These ECMS are the internal Microsoft quarterbacks for ISVs – to me, they are the essential glue that has been missing within Microsoft in years gone by. ECMs will proactively help ISVs navigate both Microsoft and their customers in an effort to progress co-sell deals like it has never been possible to do before.
Evolving and improving Co-Sell partner tools are also in place for use by both ISV and Microsoft folks alike – a product catalogue and shared pipeline management system are both in place today and used daily by both ISVs and Microsoft account teams.
These tools are not perfect but are improving by the week. As with any program, there are still some tweaks to make, however slowly but surely, Microsoft’s co-sell program is becoming a well-oiled machine. All ISVs, whether on Azure already or competing cloud platforms, should at least be aware of this program. I know of no other program that brings this much revenue potential to ISVs.
From personal experience working with Co-Sell over the past year, I can wholeheartedly confirm that Microsoft has transformed into a partner focused organisation - the behaviour of Microsoft in supporting the co-sell program proves it.
The results are also really beginning to show for the Co-Sell partners that my company represents. We see clear and demonstrable positive pipeline and revenue impact of the Co-Sell program
Next time, I will share some tips and tricks about how to work better with Microsoft and how to make your product more relevant to Microsoft account teams.
Steve Dawson is the Founder and CEO of Asia Market Entry – a company that represents several internationally based SaaS based technology products, providing its customers with outsourced enterprise business development and enterprise channel management services locally in the Asia Pacific Market.
Asia Market Entry offers customised workshops and Partner Program training for ISV’s.