Elements of effective partnering with Microsoft

Successful Microsoft partnering

I often get a question from partners about what one needs to have in place to partner effectively. I always say that the relationship is an investment, both sides need to gain from it, and the partner should not automatically expect there to be an interest by Microsoft. In my tens of business design session deliveries and educational sessions for hundreds of channel partner professionals and Microsoft employees, I have seen what works and does not.  I have also seen many good starts but then failing in the end. I know most of the failings archetypes and will post more about them later in blog postings.

Partnering with Microsoft can be an excellent strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach and offerings. Here are some key aspects to consider when building a successful commercial relationship with Microsoft:

  • Align with Microsoft's vision and strategy: Understanding Microsoft's priorities and goals and how your business can contribute to them is important. Microsoft's vision is to empower people and organizations to achieve more through technology, so look for ways to align your offerings with this goal. Align your solution to the industry-prioritized solutions (IPS) that Microsoft publishes at the start of the fiscal year (1st of July). 
  • Identify the right partner program: Microsoft offers a range of partner programs tailored to different types of partners and their business models. Choose the program that fits your business and goals and meets the eligibility requirements. Focus on and be realistic about your goals.
  • Build a strong relationship with your Microsoft account team: The partner's account team can provide valuable guidance and support, so building a strong relationship with them is important. This includes regular communication, updates on your business, and collaboration on joint marketing and sales activities. Understand the business drivers of the account teams to ensure that your and their interests are aligned.
  • Focus on co-selling and co-marketing: Microsoft encourages partners to collaborate on co-selling and co-marketing initiatives to promote joint solutions and reach new customers. Look for opportunities to collaborate with other Microsoft partners to create integrated solutions that offer unique value to customers. It is also important to understand that not all solutions are interesting for Microsoft to co-sell. You have to build a case of why it is interesting for a field person to promote your solution. Each account rep has tens or even hundreds of solutions to pick from in co-sell motions.
  • Invest in training and certification: Microsoft offers a range of training and certification programs for partners to build their skills and expertise. Investing in these programs can help you differentiate your business and demonstrate your capabilities to customers. Be focused on what is realistic and what is important for your organization.
  • Leverage Microsoft's technology and resources: Microsoft provides partners with access to various technology and resources, including software, cloud services, and marketing materials. Use these resources to build and promote solutions and demonstrate your expertise with Microsoft technology. Do not "reinvent" the wheel; use what Microsoft has built and focus on creating additional value on top of the Microsoft platforms.

Partnering with Microsoft requires a commitment to building a strong relationship and aligning your business with Microsoft's vision and goals. By focusing on co-selling, co-marketing, and building your skills and expertise, you can create a successful commercial relationship with Microsoft that benefits your business and customers.

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