Microsoft May Expand Surface Sales To More Partners, But Requirements Are Strict


Microsoft is considering expanding its Authorized Devices Reseller Program to allow more of its U.S. partners to sell Surface tablets, CRN has learned.

Microsoft is reaching out to a "limited number" of partners with the "potential" to help it meet its sales goals for Surface, Eric Martorano, general manager of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Sales organization, wrote in an email to partners earlier this week, which was viewed by CRN.

Sources told CRN that Microsoft has contacted around 100 U.S. partners that sell PC and tablet hardware. Microsoft is asking them to fill out a questionnaire to gauge whether they meet its requirements for selling and supporting Surface tablets.

 

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A spokesperson for Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., declined to comment on the email or the questionnaire. "We are exploring future phases of the program and we have nothing further to share at this time," the spokesperson said in an email.

With Surface 2 tablets now on the market, Microsoft needs more hands on deck to help sell them. "With the recent release of new Microsoft Surface tablets and accessories, Microsoft is more focused than ever on selling devices to commercial customers," Microsoft said in the questionnaire, which was viewed by CRN.

The Surface questionnaire sheds light on why Microsoft has been reluctant to let the majority of its partners sell Surface tablets. Microsoft's requirements, as outlined in the questionnaire, are stringent.

For example, Microsoft asks partners for a "potential forecast for a one-year commitment to Surface & Surface Pro unit volumes," with options ranging from one to 5,000 units, all the way up to 100,000-plus units. Partners also are asked if they can "provide pipeline visibility, weekly forecast view and deal closure metrics to Microsoft."

Microsoft is asking partners how many staff they'd be able to "dedicate to joint account planning" to find and manage commercial customers for Surface tablets, with options ranging from one to five people.

Microsoft also wants to know if partners have call center, customer financing, services and post-sales support capabilities. Partners are asked to estimate how many hardware-based sales engagements they're doing each month, with options ranging from one to 50.

Invited partners have until Dec. 6 to complete the questionnaire and Microsoft plans to inform them of "next steps" Dec. 20, according to the document.

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