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Microsoft U.S. Partner Group Plans $30M Investment

Microsoft plans a $30 million incremental investment in U.S. partner sales and marketing support for the upcoming fiscal year.

Michael Park, corporate vice president of Microsoft's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) Group, said the money will go toward additional sales and marketing resources focused on helping solution providers represent their solutions in the field as well to put in place increased coverage for Gold Certified and Certified partners. The investment is over and above planned channel-related investments being made at the worldwide level, he said.

One goal is to put in place more Microsoft resources to support ad hoc partner-to-partner collaboration that helps close more deals. "We want to further optimize collaboration," Park said. "Most vendors tend to treat the channel as just the channel."

Among planned investments will be telecoverage earmarked to support partners. Park estimated that 50 percent of Gold partners and 10 percent of Certified partners now have regular interaction with Microsoft field personnel. His goal is to ensure that 100 percent of Gold partners and 50 percent of Certified partners are touched regularly by the end of fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1.

The outreach will center on providing partners with additional marketing capabilities to help close sales and making it easier for solution providers--particularly ISVs with vertical and custom applications knowledge--to extend their reach across multiple U.S. geographies.

"Business applications are the reason you buy technology and software," said Margo Day, whose five-year tenure as vice president of the U.S. Partner Group ends with the start of the new fiscal year. Moving forward, Day will become regional vice president for the West region for Microsoft's SMS&P Group. Her successor is Robert Deshaies, who will take over the position July 1.

Park said the reorganization was made as part of the Microsoft U.S. team's plan to shore up field resources for partners.

Paul Fridman, president of Magenic Technologies, a $29 million Microsoft-only, Gold Certified software integrator, said he was encouraged by the changes, which were outlined internally to the Microsoft team on Thursday.

"The more focused that you can get, the more targeted the campaigns, the better the results are going to be," Fridman said. "I am totally planning on taking advantage of this."

Though the marketing campaigns that Microsoft is encouraging require more effort to set up on the front end, because they address specific roles-based applications and solutions, the results on the back end are markedly better, Fridman noted. "The close ratio is better, without a doubt," he said.

Park declined to specify how many people would be added to the U.S. partner organization to accommodate the investment, saying that priorities would vary by territory.

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