How to Co-Sell with Microsoft: Direct, AppSource, and Azure Marketplace

Published on
November 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. For Microsoft, co-selling refers to the collaborative relationship between the company and its partners within the partner ecosystem to deliver innovative solutions to customers. This process involves shared activities like sales planning, generating new leads, and amplifying partner-to-partner selling.

Microsoft launched its co-sell program in 2017 with the motive of enriching customer value propositions by providing incentives to its direct sellers. This Co-sell strategy enables partners to co-sell with Microsoft, irrespective of the channel in which they are selling.

In this context, Microsoft offers channels to co-sell with it.

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

Explore the latest trends shaping co-selling in our blog "11 Top Co-selling Trends and Predictions" to create seamless omnichannel journeys for your partners.

This blog will explore different Microsoft co-sell channels, specifically focusing on Direct, AppSource, and Azure Marketplace.

1st Microsoft Co-Sell Channel: Direct Channel

The Direct Co-sell Channel is a collaborative sales approach wherein Microsoft and its partners work hand-in-hand to engage with customers. This co-sell channel involves a direct interface between Microsoft's sales teams and its partners to create a more personalized and strategic collaboration model. This co-sell strategy enables partners to actively fulfill customer needs by selling their own offers, Microsoft’s offers, or both. It’s a powerful way to reach a vast community of Microsoft-managed customers, build demand, and accelerate business growth.

How does it work for Partners?

Microsoft's Direct Co-sell Channel allows 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 its 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: Connecting with Ideal Customers at Scale.

The Microsoft commercial marketplace is a catalog of solutions from its 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).

2nd Microsoft Co-Sell Channel: AppSource

Microsoft's AppSource is a dynamic marketplace 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 co-sell appsource channel
Source: Microsoft AppSource

What are the different Co-selling Opportunities within AppSource:

Microsoft's AppSource Co-sell Channel is 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.
  • Partner companies can tap into Microsoft's extensive customer base, actively seeking innovative business solutions.

Tailored Solutions for Diverse Needs:

  • Partners can list various solutions on AppSource that cater to specific industry needs and verticals.
  • This flexibility enables partners to target diverse customer segments and address various 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.

Appsource's 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 visibility platform.
  • 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 customer experience.

Microsoft Co-sell Channels: Success Stories from AppSource Ecosystem

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


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


  • 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.

To explore in-depth strategies, best practices, and insights to master co-selling, read our blog, The Ultimate Co-Selling Guide, to build robust partnerships and maximize revenue opportunities.

Discover effective strategies for engaging and collaborating with your ecosystem partners, unlocking new opportunities for co-selling success, with our comprehensive blog, Driving Co-Sell Partnerships: How to Involve Ecosystem Partners.

3rd Co-Sell Channel: Microsoft Azure Marketplace

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

Azure marketplace co-sell strategy
Source: Azure Marketplace

Co-selling Mechanisms in Azure Marketplace:

The Azure Marketplace Co-sell Channel is a testament to cloud collaboration's transformative power. For Microsoft partners such as ISVs and Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs), this platform offers a marketplace and 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 has reached out to:


  • 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, 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.

Unlocking Co-Sell Opportunities: 4 Best Practices for Choosing the Right Microsoft Co-sell Channel

With a handful of options available, selecting the right Microsoft co-sell channel for your organization is highly 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 will likely 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. Do you want a more personalized engagement with Microsoft's sales teams or 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:

Direct Co-sell is fitting if strategic alignment with Microsoft's goals is crucial. 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:

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

Examples of Businesses Successfully Navigating the Decision-Making Process:

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: 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 business success. Each channel offers unique 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.

A dedicated agency like HSV Digital can be very helpful in helping with co-sell strategies and decision-making challenges. Contact us today to learn more.

The decision on which co-sell channel to leverage is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Instead, it requires 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Microsoft's Co-sell strategy, and how does it differ between AppSource and Azure Marketplace?

Microsoft's Co-sell strategy involves partnering with industry leaders to market and sell solutions. AppSource focuses on industry and business solutions for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform services. On the other hand, Azure Marketplace offers developer solutions built on Azure or used within Azure subscriptions.

Can partners participate in multiple Microsoft Co-sell Channels simultaneously to maximize opportunities? 

Yes, partners can simultaneously engage in various Microsoft Co-sell channels, leveraging diverse avenues for collaboration and sales.

Is customization possible in partners' Co-sell engagements with Microsoft to align with their business objectives?

Yes, partners can customize their Co-sell engagements with Microsoft based on their business objectives, target markets, and preferred collaboration models within the Co-sell strategy framework.

Jaspreet K. Lidder

About the Author

Experienced B2B Content Specialist with over 4 years of success in crafting compelling assets for channel and partner marketing. I possess a deep understanding of market dynamics, allowing me to create impactful narratives that resonate with diverse audiences. My experience has enabled me to translate complex data insights into engaging stories that inform, educate, and inspire action across various content formats. I excel at crafting narratives that showcase data trends, best practices, and innovations across channel and partner marketing.

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