On August 8, 2016, the Redmond Channel Partner featured MediaValet as a leading business model for success within the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). The purpose of the article was to highlight a selection of businesses who approach the MPN very differently, discuss some of the challenges of working within Microsoft’s framework, and ultimately provide some crystal clear action items on how to “get to the promised land of recurring revenue and a set of channel partners selling [your] solution.”
The article was born out of the fact that there is incredible variation in how businesses are experiencing the MPN, what the author Barb Levisay considers to be “a tumultuous place these days.”
Levisay provides the following 8 tips on building recurring revenue for your business and getting channel partners to sell your solution to their clients:
- Aim to build a spider web of connections
- Focus on building relationships with employees in MPN who benefit from your Microsoft-based product
- Make your brand well-known
- Position your brand as a catalyst that delivers mutual benefits to potential partners
- Where applicable, allow distributors to introduce you to the broader channel
- If focused on vertical markets, identify influencers in the industry you are targeting and leverage partner-to-partner relationships outside the Microsoft partner ecosystem
- Work to develop a clear understanding of the MPN marketplace
- Build a close relationship with Microsoft itself
What’s intriguing about the article is how it outlines several different approaches to working within the MPN for cloud-enabled business models:
- Forceworks, an online CRM provider, uses a reseller-only model, which is considered to be the core partner-to-partner (P2P) model and the approach Microsoft encourages. The company identified a pain for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), namely that they can’t afford large-scale on-premise dynamic CRM’s. So they built a pre-configured CRM package specifically for SMB customers and redesigned their business model entirely. They no longer sell direct-to-customer and instead rely entirely on through-partner sales to scale their business. Today Forceworks is partnered with about 180 partners around the world.
- MediaValet, a digital asset management company, reaches out to a broader market by participating in both direct non-partner and channel partner sales. This is a business case that began with direct-market sales and recently adopted an expanded model that seeks collaborative partnerships with both MPN resellers and systems integrators. MediaValet has found that when partners collaborate to close sales, everyone wins – partners build strong relationships (for example our relationship with Orckestra) based on trust and customers benefit from the extended benefits that the two partners can offer together.
- Washington Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm, practices a somewhat non-traditional & innovative business model within the MPN. Essentially, they are challenging the idea of what an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) within the MPN is in the first place by using Microsoft technology to build partnerships outside the Microsoft Partner Network. By providing an industry-specific online CRM to small partners across the United States, Washington Capital Partners has enabled local firms to significantly improve their productivity.
Not all of the cases discussed are instant success stories. As Levisay states, the MPN is currently tumultuous and going through intensive changes. Thus, she also provides an example of struggle.
- Weather Trends International, a predictive analytics company that combines weather predictions and market analysis to forecast potential seasonal revenue generation, claims that being part of the MPN has been “slow-going.” In short, they fight the assumption that they are merely a weather company. The hope they are banking on is that by promoting the Azure marketplace as a source of crucial data that will make Microsoft and ISV solutions better, they will be able to further distinguish predictive analytics as a power industry in seasonal-based retails sales for companies like Coca-Cola and Walmart.
At the heart of these traditional and innovative models is always making the right connections within the MPN. The full article is worth a read to get more insight on creating those networks and Levisay’s discussion of the case studies: The Reinvention of the Microsoft ISV.
Redmond Channel Partner is the only independent advocate for MPN readers and the only publication that offers advice on expanding businesses, developing partnerships, and building service-oriented business within the MPN.