Microsoft to Name Accounts for Consulting Services

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After months of speculation and pressure from partners, Microsoft on Monday announced that it will name approximately 1,000 enterprise customer accounts for Microsoft Consulting Services in an effort to reduce channel conflict.

Microsoft's new Services Partners Framework will focus MCS on the top 1,000 global, strategic, major and corporate accounts, most of which are enterprise customers with greater than 4,000 PCs. The accounts will be named and published every six months for Microsoft partners.

"There's been a decease in predictability of where partners encounter MCS," says Paul Bazley, vice president of U.S. enterprise and partner sales at Microsoft. "Partners became increasingly concerned. We're going to focus MCS on these enterprise customers to drive early adoption of Microsoft technologies and critical design wins."

All customers outside of the 1,000 named accounts will be reserved for partners, Microsoft officials say.

"For those customers, the services provided around Microsoft technologies will be partner-led," Bazley says. "A partner can invite MCS to participate in a deal, but these customer accounts will be partner-led."

Any exceptions to these guidelines will be reviewed on a monthly basis by Bazley, Morris Beton, vice president of U.S. services for Microsoft, and Kevin Johnson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for U.S. services at Microsoft.

A number of Microsoft partners are currently working in some of the name accounts, and Bazley says those partners will not be displaced. He says the company received many complaints--not only about MCS competing for deals in the channel but also the aggressive behavior of MCS's sales force.

"We decided we needed to realign MCS's objectives so we're not ignite overly aggressive behavior at the expense of our partners," he says.

The new system will be executed on a local level so that partners can address any problems or questions with Microsoft representatives, according to Microsoft officials. The company also set up an e-mail partner feedback and complaints, which will reviewed by local, regional and U.S. sales and services managers as well as Bazley and Beton.

Microsoft officials say the company consulted many partners and received valuable feedback from partner advisory councils, which helped shape the Services Partner Framework.

"We believe we are bringing a resolution to the issues that partners have been raising to us over the last few months, making the company more predictable, more trusted and more valuable," says Rosa Garcia, general manager of partner sales and marketing at Microsoft.

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