Search
Homepage Rankings and Research Companies Channelcast Marketing Matters CRNtv Events Acronis #CyberFit Summit 2021 Avaya Newsroom Experiences That Matter Cisco Partner Summit Digital 2020 Intel Partner Connect 2021

Microsoft's Tying Small Business And Channels Together Is The Right Move

Microsoft&'s recent decision to annex its Worldwide Small Business and Worldwide Partner Groups is something other companies should consider and expand upon.

Microsoft&'s recent decision to annex its Worldwide Small Business and Worldwide Partner Groups is something other companies should consider and expand upon.

Allison Watson, who has been driving solution provider initiatives for the company, is heading up the expanded group. What this move says is that Microsoft sees growth potential in small business and understands that solution providers are the way to capture that growth.

photo
ROBERT FALETRA
Can be reached at (781) 839-1202 or via e-mail at rfaletra@cmp.com.

The trouble with some companies is that they look at the solution provider channel as a market and build programs that try to jam products into the channel rather than help it infiltrate market segments. This latest restructuring shows that Microsoft knows the small-business market can only be serviced effectively through solution providers, so the company said let&'s be smart and put the two under the same leadership. Given Watson&'s deep understanding of the channel, she was the best possible choice inside the company to run it.

While Microsoft is being innovative here, there are additional things it and other organizations can and should do in the new world of proactive customer management. Today, most companies still have not figured out an effective way to tie product development to channel strategy. If you know that your channel is going to be the mechanism that creates the demand in the market through solution sales, why would you not be thinking about the channel in your product rollout?

It still amazes me to watch companies—Microsoft, too, at times—roll out a new product without a clear plan to target the solution providers that will be instrumental in the product&'s adoption. The reason is simple. Product development teams often don&'t understand channels. More importantly, because they are divorced from the channel and not responsible for it, product development teams assume the solution provider is taking care of the product positioning message. But channel organizations aren&'t funded with enough dollars to take care of both, so the positioning message often isn&'t conveyed.

photo
’If you know that your channel is going to be the mechanism that creates the demand in the market through solution sales, why would you not be thinking about the channel in your product rollout?&'

How you change that to engage product teams with their indirect sales channel is something that should be debated inside more vendor organizations. Going forward, the more successful vendors will be those that conclude that engagement needs to happen and then figure out a way to make it happen.

Whether this change comes through compensation plans that force the same sales and awareness goals on both the product and channel teams, through reporting structures or through some other method isn&'t really the issue. The issue is that solution providers are rapidly moving into a proactive customer management model that relegates a single product or platform to a piece of a much larger ongoing strategic technology plan.

Solution providers view customers, not vendors, as their most important relationship. In addition, there are always alternative products that can be used for a solution, and the relationship with the customer is an ongoing one, not a single sale process. As a result, product introductions that don&'t come with a partner strategy are going to fail more often they have in the past.

Vendors that want to gain share and understand this are going to realize that hooking a solution provider on their product is like teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish. That&'s how market-share gains are going to be made in the future.

Make something happen. I can be reached at (781) 839-1202 or via e-mail at rfaletra@cmp.com.

Back to Top

Video

     

    trending stories

    sponsored resources