Microsoft looks to expand co-selling motion

Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of the One Commercial Partner organization at Microsoft

Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of the One Commercial Partner  organization at Microsoft

Since Microsoft introduced its One Commercial Partner organization over a year ago, one of its biggest goals has been to help partners commercialize their own offerings, and then bring those products to market with the help of Microsoft’s own field team.

It’s a reverse switch on the “traditional” channel model, perhaps, but it’s one that we’re going to see more often as more solution providers build out their own unique intellectual property around vendors’ technologies, and it’s only accelerated by the move of IT buying towards cloud and other subscription-based models. And Microsoft is looking to accelerate that.

At the company’s Inspire conference in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft global channel chief Gavriella Schuster said the company’s partners have inked $5 billion (U.S.) in new business through the company’s sales team over the last year, with about 87 per cent of the company’s partners who produce their own “productized solutions” taking advantage of the Microsoft field.

“This year, we turned the corner from partnering to partnership,” Schuster told partners. “$5 billion of sales for you is a pretty good start. We’re on to something big. We’re doing something right, and we want to keep doing it.”

To underline that, she announced the company will reward its field 10 per cent on the sale of partner products, and that the company will open up the motion to its Dynamics business apps for this fiscal year as well.

The company will look to automate the process more as well. Currently, applications that are available to sell through Microsoft are in an internal catalogue, but during this year, she said the company will make those applications and services available through its AppSource online catalogue, making them directly-accessible to customers online. This, she said, should help partners get started faster.

“I hear from partner after partner that once you get on this path, your momentum goes like a rocketship, but that getting started can be a little hard,” she said.

Partners will be able to control the customer experience on AppSource, defining the solution, the sales experience, and what kind of trial period may be offered. But the company is going to have make some changes to make that happen, expanding the scope of what AppSource can offer from just software-as-a-service packages to include services and even managed services. In some cases, it will allow partners to “sell” their solutions without any dedicated sellers, she suggested, and it furthers the move towards more Microsoft partners looking like traditional ISVs.

“You’ll be immediately able to make your solution not just available to our field, but to 2 million monthly active users coming to AppSource looking for solutions, and participate in the 100,000 per month of leads that are coming out of AppSource,” Schuster said.

She admitted that last year, when set to introduce this new model to partners, she was nervous because it was a big change for partner to do, but said that her conversations with partners over the last year — as well as the revenue realized — have convinced her that they’re on the right direction.

“This is what the One Commercial Partner team was designed to do,” Schuster said. “There’s no greater opportunity or priority for us than to connect you to customers. It’s how we build your business, and it’s what we’re here to do.”