Types of Microsoft Co-sell Channel - Direct, AppSource & Azure Marketplace

Published on
Nov 27, 2023

Microsoft, being a major player in the global tech industry, has recognized the significance of co-selling as a strategic approach to drive success for both its partners and itself. Co-selling, in the context of Microsoft, refers to the collaborative efforts between the company and its partners to deliver innovative solutions to customers.  

Microsoft's co-sell channels are platforms and avenues through which the company collaborates with its partners to market and sell solutions to customers.

The importance of co-selling in the Microsoft ecosystem comes in the form of extending reach and visibility, strategic alignment with its partners, an accelerated time-to-market, and access to the ecosystem resources.

In this blog, we will delve into the various types of Microsoft co-sell channels, specifically focusing on Direct, AppSource, and Azure Marketplace.

Direct Co-sell Channel  

The Direct Co-sell Channel is a collaborative sales approach wherein Microsoft and its partners work hand-in-hand to engage with customers. It involves a direct interface between the partner and Microsoft's sales teams, creating a more personalized and strategic collaboration model.

How it Works for Partners:  

Microsoft's Direct Co-sell Channel offers an avenue for partners to forge strategic collaborations and bring innovative solutions directly to customers. This is how it functions:

Engagement with Microsoft Sales Teams:  

  • Partners establish a direct line of communication with Microsoft's sales teams.
  • This allows partners to align their solutions with Microsoft's strategic goals and industry focus.

Tailored Solutions for Customers:

  • Partners can tailor their solutions to meet the specific needs of individual customers.
  • The direct engagement facilitates a deeper understanding of customer requirements and enables partners to offer more personalized solutions.

Joint Sales Pitches:

  • Microsoft and partners often collaborate on joint sales pitches and presentations.
  • This collaborative approach enhances the credibility of partner solutions and fosters a unified front in the market.

Advantages and Benefits:

The brownie points of Microsoft’s Direct co-sell channel are in the form of:  

Strategic Alignment:  

  • Direct Co-sell ensures strategic alignment between Microsoft and its partners.
  • Both parties can synchronize their efforts, combining resources and expertise to deliver comprehensive solutions.

Enhanced Visibility:  

  • Partners benefit from the extended reach of Microsoft's sales teams.
  • This increased visibility accelerates the partner's market penetration and brand recognition.

Deeper Customer Relationships:  

  • Direct engagement enables partners to build deeper relationships with customers.
  • Partners gain insights into customer needs and can provide ongoing support, fostering long-term collaborations.

Challenges and Considerations:

These are the pointers for you to be wary of:

Resource Intensity:

  • Direct Co-sell can be resource-intensive for both Microsoft and partners.
  • Partners must allocate resources for collaboration, including joint marketing efforts and sales activities.

Navigating Complexity:  

  • The direct engagement model may introduce complexities in coordination between Microsoft and partners.
  • Effective communication and clear delineation of roles are crucial to overcoming this challenge.

Industry Focus:  

  • Direct Co-sell might be more effective for partners aligned with Microsoft's industry focus.
  • Partners operating in niche markets may need to assess the level of alignment and potential impact on collaboration.

Commercial Marketplace Online Stores

The Microsoft commercial marketplace is an amalgamation of solutions from Microsoft’s independent software vendor (ISV) partners. As ISV members of the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program, companies get to create, publish, and manage commercial marketplace offers in the Partner Center. Solutions from different organizations get listed together with Microsoft solutions, connecting partners to other businesses, organizations, and agencies from all around the globe.

The Microsoft commercial marketplace can be broadly divided into two major online stores – Microsoft AppSource (targeted mainly for business solutions) and Azure Marketplace (targeted mainly for IT solutions).

AppSource Co-sell Channel  

Microsoft's AppSource is a dynamic marketplace that serves as a hub for business applications, add-ins, and industry-specific solutions. Within this expansive ecosystem, the AppSource Co-sell Channel provides a collaborative platform for partner companies to showcase, co-sell, and market their solutions.

Microsoft AppSource
Source: Microsoft AppSource

Co-selling Opportunities within AppSource:

Microsoft's AppSource Co-sell Channel stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in the tech industry. Partners such as ISVs, solution providers and MSPs can leverage this platform to showcase their solutions, reach a global audience, and participate in co-selling opportunities that drive success.

Global Visibility:

  • AppSource offers companies global visibility, allowing them to reach customers far and wide.
  • Partners companies can tap into Microsoft's extensive customer base actively seeking innovative business solutions.

Tailored Solutions for Diverse Needs:  

  • Partners can list a diverse range of solutions on AppSource, catering to specific industry needs and verticals.
  • This flexibility enables partners to target diverse customer segments and address a wide array of business challenges.

Demo and Trial Options:

  • AppSource facilitates the provision of demos and trials for partner solutions.
  • Customers can experience the functionality and benefits of a solution firsthand, fostering increased trust and higher conversion rates.

Features and Benefits:

To list a few, some prominent benefits of the Microsoft AppSource co-sell channel are:

Visibility and Exposure:  

  • AppSource provides partners with a dedicated platform for visibility.
  • Partners can showcase their solutions in a curated environment, increasing the chances of discovery by potential customers.

Lead Generation:  

  • The AppSource Co-sell Channel serves as a lead generation engine for partners.
  • Partners can leverage the marketplace to generate qualified leads, expanding their customer base and market reach.

Streamlined Procurement:  

  • AppSource streamlines the procurement process for customers.
  • Customers can discover, try, and deploy partner solutions directly from the marketplace, simplifying the purchasing journey.

Technical Support and Resources:  

  • Partners gain access to Microsoft's technical support and resources through AppSource.
  • This support enhances the quality of partner solutions and ensures a smooth experience for customers.

Success Stories from AppSource Co-selling:

Some co-selling instances that have come out shining bright are:  

Zylinc:  

  • Zylinc, a communication solutions provider, experienced significant growth through AppSource.
  • The platform allowed them to showcase their Unified Communications solution, resulting in increased visibility and customer acquisition.

AVEVA:  

  • AVEVA, a global leader in industrial software, collaborated with Microsoft on AppSource.
  • Their solutions for industrial innovation gained traction, leading to successful co-selling endeavors and expanded market presence.

Azure Marketplace  

Azure Marketplace is Microsoft's hub for discovering, trying, and buying cloud solutions certified to run on Azure. This expansive ecosystem encompasses a myriad of applications, services, and solutions tailored for diverse industries, providing customers with a one-stop shop for their cloud needs.

Azure Marketplace
Source: Azure Marketplace

Co-selling Mechanisms in Azure Marketplace:

The Azure Marketplace Co-sell Channel stands as a testament to the transformative power of cloud collaboration. For Microsoft partners such as ISVs and Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs), this platform offers not just a marketplace but a gateway to global visibility, scalability, and unparalleled co-selling opportunities.

Integrated Partner Center:  

  • Partners can seamlessly integrate their solutions into the Azure Marketplace through the Partner Center.
  • This centralized platform enables partners to manage their listings, engage with customers, and monitor performance.

Azure Certified Program:  

  • The Azure Certified program ensures that solutions listed on the marketplace meet Microsoft's stringent standards for compatibility and performance.
  • Partners can leverage the Azure Certified badge to instill confidence in customers and enhance the visibility of their offerings.

Co-selling with Microsoft Sales Teams:  

  • Partners have the opportunity to co-sell their solutions alongside Microsoft's sales teams.
  • This collaborative approach allows partners to tap into Microsoft's extensive customer base and benefit from joint sales efforts.

Advantages and Unique Features:

The most unique features when referred to the Azure Marketplace, these following ones are to be listed:  

Global Reach:

  • Azure Marketplace provides partners with a global platform to showcase and sell their solutions.
  • Partners can access a diverse customer base from various industries and geographical locations.

Scalability and Flexibility:

  • The cloud-centric nature of Azure Marketplace ensures scalability for partner solutions.
  • Partners can adapt to changing customer demands and scale their offerings seamlessly.

Built-in Marketing and Promotion:  

  • Azure Marketplace offers built-in marketing and promotion features.
  • Partners can leverage these tools to enhance the visibility of their solutions and attract potential customers.

Case Studies Illustrating Successful Co-selling on Azure Marketplace:

The success coming through the route of the Azure Marketplace have reached out to:  

Databricks:

  • Databricks, a big data analytics company, achieved success on Azure Marketplace by offering its Unified Analytics Platform.
  • Co-selling efforts with Microsoft's sales teams resulted in increased visibility and accelerated customer acquisition.

CloudCheckr:

  • CloudCheckr, a cloud management platform, collaborated with Microsoft on Azure Marketplace.
  • Their solutions for cloud cost management gained traction, leading to successful co-selling endeavors and expanded market presence.

Choosing the Right Microsoft Co-sell Channel

With a handful of options available, selecting the right Microsoft co-sell channel for your organization is extremely crucial.

Factors to Consider

Some deciding elements to consider before making a decision, can be:

Business Objectives:  

  • Consider your business goals and objectives. Are you aiming for global reach, industry-specific visibility, or cloud-based solutions?
  • Direct Co-sell may be suitable for strategic alignment, AppSource for industry-focused solutions, and Azure Marketplace for cloud offerings.

Target Audience:  

  • Understand your target audience and where they are most likely to discover and engage with your solutions.
  • AppSource may be ideal for businesses with solutions tailored to specific industries, while Azure Marketplace may appeal to those with cloud-centric offerings.

Solution Characteristics:

  • Evaluate the nature of your solutions. Are they industry-specific applications, general business tools, or cloud-based services?
  • Tailor your choice based on whether your solutions align more closely with the features of AppSource or the cloud-centric environment of Azure Marketplace.

Collaboration Preferences:  

  • Assess your preferences for collaboration. Are you looking for a more personalized engagement with Microsoft's sales teams, or do you prefer a platform where customers can discover and deploy your solutions independently?
  • Direct Co-sell offers a more hands-on approach, while AppSource and Azure Marketplace provide platforms for self-service discovery.

Matching Business Goals with the Appropriate Channel:

Strategic Alignment:  

If strategic alignment with Microsoft's goals is crucial, Direct Co-sell is a fitting choice. This channel allows for a more intimate partnership, aligning business strategies and resources for shared success.

Industry Focus:  

Businesses with solutions catering to specific industries may find AppSource to be the most effective channel. It provides a focused marketplace where industry-specific solutions can shine.

Cloud-Centric Solutions:  

For businesses offering cloud-based solutions, Azure Marketplace is a natural fit. It provides a dedicated platform for customers seeking scalable and cloud-friendly offerings.

Examples of Businesses Successfully Navigating the Decision-Making Process:

Cohesity:  

Cohesity, a data management company, strategically chose to leverage Direct Co-sell. Their collaboration with Microsoft's sales teams led to increased visibility and accelerated customer acquisition.

AvePoint:  

AvePoint, a leader in cloud solutions, found success by listing their solutions on Azure Marketplace. This decision allowed them to tap into a global customer base seeking cloud-centric solutions.

Summing Up

In the dynamic realm of technology collaborations, Microsoft's Co-sell Channels emerge as diverse pathways to success for businesses. Each channel offers a unique set of opportunities, features, and advantages, creating a multifaceted ecosystem for partners to thrive.  

As we conclude our exploration of these channels, it becomes evident that the key to success lies in strategic decision-making and aligning business goals with the appropriate channel.

To help out with your co-selling needs and decision-making challenges, a dedicated agency like HSV Digital can come in handy, bigtime. Contact us today to know more.

The decision on which co-sell channel to leverage is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Instead, it requires a thoughtful consideration of factors such as business objectives, target audience, solution characteristics, and collaboration preferences.

By carefully aligning these factors, businesses can choose the channel that resonates most with their unique strengths and offerings.

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