11 Jul 2019 by Becci Velzian
Microsoft Inspire 2019: Our Tips and Tricks
Are you going to Microsoft Inspire 2019 in just a couple days? Then check out this blog with all our tips and tricks we’ve learned after years of attendance.
Approximately one year ago, Microsoft conducted its big “Re-Org” of FY18 into the One Commercial Partner (OCP). I mention the fiscal year because this is not the first, nor the last re-org we will see. It’s also approximately a year since the Co-Sell initiative began. In my Microsoft tenure, I have seen many, many, MANY programs released and sunset. To see these big changes happening all at once, I knew we were in for some work to meet these new metrics to be a managed partner.
Today, I look at where Quadrotech is, and I’m astonished at how far we’ve come and what that means for us as a company, and our customers.
I admire the ideology of this, and I have to give credit to Gavriella Schuster (Microsoft’s Corporate VP, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs) for adopting and driving this to the successful program it is today!
I speculate that the reasoning for “ONE” commercial partner, is that through technological development the partner types that seemed so clear-cut at the time, now have many facets and blurry lines.
In Microsoft’s FY17, a colleague introduced me to the term SI-ISV. SI, as you probably know, stands for System Integrator – Microsoft defined these partners as organizations that deployed and offered services around Microsoft solutions. ISV or Independent Software Vendors were partners that developed IP that either sat on top of or ran alongside Microsoft solutions. SIs were the big guys; they had the muscle, therefore, got the attention from Microsoft. ISVs were mostly behind the scenes and were only called upon when they were needed, developing custom software to fit a particular customer’s needs.
I believe that ‘One Commercial Partner’ is just that. Partners are being recognized as a Partner, not solely by the solutions or services they provide; thus, releasing the shackles and constraints of being typecast into an SI or ISV. Change is good; freedom is better.
Quadrotech is a natural SI-ISV. Not only do we develop our own solutions, but we also offer managed migrations with a fixed price, fixed outcome. We do not sell our solutions and offer limited training, expecting the customer to facilitate the migration themselves and then when they fail charge them consulting fees to fix a solution that was never really setting them up for success initially.
Watch this video of two Office 365 MVPs discussing our Managed Migrations
Partner to Partner. This is an initiative that Microsoft tried very hard to institute, but I didn’t perceive it as successful before OCP was introduced. Historically, partners didn’t want to work with other partners; they simply wanted to stay in their swim lanes and function completely separate from each other. The key issue in retrospect was there was nothing incentivizing them to come together. Each partner was afraid the other would steal their customers, IP, or the niche that separated them from their competition.
Today we see a much different approach to P2P, and it comes from Microsoft. Microsoft has allowed partners to market to one another through various programs and initiatives. Whether it’s an Indirect CSP partner leveraging Direct Partners to supplement services they don’t offer or SIs pulling in ISVs to supplement aspects of a project that they do not have the proper skills to execute. ISVs are even collaborating to combine their niche IP with 1-3 other ISVs to encompass a service offering they couldn’t offer alone. P2P has come a long way, and Microsoft is setting the stage & leading by example with their Co-Sell motion.
Today Quadrotech has our own booming Partner Channel. With the majority of our solutions having the ability to be white-labeled, other partners that have Managed Service Practices are quick to jump onboard adding our SaaS solution stack to their customer’s billable services. When they see all of the business value our solutions provide to end user organizations, including providing consumable data regarding Office 365 usage and utilization, role-based access control (RBAC), and auditable timelines that can be kept as long as they’re needed, the list of possible added services is near infinite.
Isn’t that the million-dollar question?
Our amazing PDM (Partner Development Manager) first introduced me to Co-Sell, and initially, I took it as boxes to check. One solution, check. Two solutions, check. I went about working with our Marketing team to list all of our offerings in the OCP Catalog, and I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work.
While this was happening, I was asking our PDM for introductions to field sellers to work with my team on opportunities, to no avail. We were the unknown. She and I would burn cycles trying to get in front of these account teams, while they were giving our opportunities to the partners that they already knew even if it wasn’t the best solution for the customer.
The first part of 2018, everything changed. The matching feature of being co-sell ready switched on, and suddenly I no longer needed the introductions from my PDM. Instead, an automated email would go out to the account team highlighting the opportunity to them. The best part? These field sellers were reaching out to us before I even had a chance to check my email!
Our first co-sell deal is a perfect example of how simple co-sell can be. It was, at the time, the largest deal to date that Quadrotech had closed. We were stalled out with the customer, and it was our Q4. Our customer contact was not responding to emails or calls, we later found out he was out of office for the holidays. We asked the Microsoft Account Executive (AE) to help us. She advised us to go one level up from our contact. We did, and we were able to close the deal on time and on budget. It was incredibly simple, and I doubt to this day, that the Microsoft rep has any idea that this one little IM she sent would have such a big impact on the project.
Do we get leads from Microsoft today? Yes, we do! Are they all good leads? Of course not, but the fact that we are being recognized as an industry leader is still pretty cool.
Co-Sell has rocketed Quadrotech’s visibility to Microsoft, in a few short months. We recently placed all of our solutions into AppSource. We have also been a Microsoft authorized supplier for almost a year now, which has allowed us to tap into End Customer Investment Funds (ECIF) to help our sales staff win and close deals faster. Just being invited to become a vendor speaks volumes of our relationship with Microsoft. According to their website:
“Suppliers are invited to the MSP (Microsoft Supplier Program) program only if they meet the Microsoft Compliance requirements and have been deemed capable and competitive through our category certification process. Not every supplier that is referred to the program and meets these requirements will be admitted. Suppliers must be nominated by their business and verified by their Procurement Lead.
MSP suppliers have access to features and benefits that the rest of the Microsoft Supplier population do not. The program helps suppliers better understand Microsoft’s strategy, be trained in and notified of the latest Microsoft policies, and to be recognized more broadly across the Microsoft buyer community.”
Check out the full page here.
Since Quadrotech resides in 7 different countries around the globe, the supplier program ensures that Microsoft field sellers around the world will recognize our deep knowledge and expertise in Migrations, Reporting, Security and Management. Having a global presence is very important to us, and this has given us the leverage needed to start being impactful in those countries.
We have all of these programs in place, and the work is far from over. Somedays I feel like I am a magician making the impossible possible. When I look back at the last year, I can honestly say I am proud of the hard work Quadrotech has done to get here. It’s been worth the blood, sweat and yes, sometimes tears.
Its As we move into the second half of FY19, I have a much deeper respect for our PDM, Kelsey Ausili. She has not only worked tirelessly for us but has also been an advocate, the voice of reason, a detective, a teammate and ultimately a friend to Quadrotech. She celebrates with us and is always “lookin’ out” for us. Our partnership with Microsoft would not be where it is today without me and her being in lockstep through every program onboarding, frustrated program owner, executive meeting and event planning session. We are lucky to have her and are sincerely thankful for all her hard work and dedication to me and the #Quadrofam. Our continued success is something that she is partially responsible for, and we are grateful.
For now, Kelsey and I will continue to work our magic to propel Quadrotech to the top, but don’t blink! You could miss something magical!