Earlier this year, Microsoft made an announcement of making some key changes to the Microsoft Partner Network programs. As per this announcement, effective October 2022 the name of the partner program would be changing from “Microsoft Partner Network” to the “Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.” Apart from changing the name, Microsoft has introduced several other changes to its partner program to better support the growth of its partners including Microsoft CSPs. This major overhaul is done with the aim of simplifying the partner program. Under the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, Microsoft has done away with gold and silver competencies. Solutions partner designations have replaced these competencies. Microsoft CSPs can attain solutions partner designation in one or more solution areas out of the following six solution areas:
- Data & AI (Azure)
- Infrastructure (Azure)
- Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
- Business Applications
- Modern Work
Microsoft is offering its partners two qualifying levels-
- The solutions partner- as a Microsoft CSP you can become a solutions partner by earning a minimum of 70 points (out of 100) in one or more solutions areas.
- Microsoft specializations- there are different specializations corresponding to one or the other solution area which you can earn to validate your expertise and deep knowledge in that specific solution area.
Becoming a solutions partner allows Microsoft CSPs to demonstrate their capabilities and experience in delivering successful solutions.
Attaining solutions partner designation
To earn solutions partner designation in one or more of the solution areas you have to earn a minimum of 70 points out of a possible 100 points. This score is called the partner capability score and measures the performance, customer success, and skilling in each solution area. Apart from earning 70 points in total, you have to earn points under each sub-category as well.
- Performance– under this category, the metric is net customer adds i.e., the number of new customers minus the number of lost customers. The new customers can be customers who are either new to Microsoft or were already using Microsoft products but are newly associated with you. Each of the solution areas has a different threshold that you need to reach in order to earn points.
- Customer success– usage growth and deployments are the metrics used for measuring customer success. To earn points under this sub-category, you have to increase the usage of Microsoft’s products by your customers as well as focus on expanding deployments.
- Skilling- As a Microsoft CSP, you can earn credits under this category by earning certifications in different solution areas. This demonstrates your technical capabilities and skills. There are two types of certifications: intermediate and advanced. In some solution areas such as Security, only intermediate certifications are available.
The score under each category is calculated by the information available in the Partner Center. To view your progress, you need to sign into the Partner Center, select the Membership workspace, then select Solution Partner. Here you can see your status for each solution area. Once you have fulfilled the requirements of becoming a solutions partner, you have to pay an annual fee of USD 4,730 or equivalent to receive the Solutions Partner designation benefits. You can place your order by signing into the Partner Centre. To know more about making the payment here.
Grow your Microsoft CSP business with solutions partner designations
A solutions partner designation comes with a host of marketing, support, and other benefits. The solutions partner benefits package includes technical presales and deployment services that comprise advisory hours and assistance in deal enablement, technical support for troubleshooting, customer-facing badges, Go-To-Market support, product benefits such as Azure credits, Internal use rights (IURs), and cloud licenses. Here is how becoming a solutions partner can help you grow your Microsoft CSP business.
Showcase capabilities and explore new sales opportunities
Attaining a solution partner designation requires Microsoft CSPs to develop deep technical expertise and highlight their capabilities. To become a solutions partner, you have to earn certifications and undertake specializations. Also, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver successful solutions that make it easier for potential customers to identify your solutions based on their needs. Each of the six solutions partner designations is aligned to high-demand cloud solution areas. As you gain expertise in high-demand areas you are able to tap into newer markets.
Differentiate with a customer-facing badge
The Microsoft CSP business can be highly competitive, to attract customers and increase revenue you need to stand out from the rest of the competition. Once you qualify for a solutions partner designation and pay the annual fee, you receive the solution partner designation benefits package which includes a customer-facing badge. A customer-facing badge can help you differentiate your Microsoft CSP business from the rest of the competition. You can use this badge on your website and promotional materials to market your capabilities and generate new business.
Increase customer reach with Go-To-Market benefits
Without the correct marketing strategy in place, it will be exceedingly difficult to position your solutions to the right audience. Developing marketing resources on your own can be time-consuming and expensive. Earning a solutions partner designation allows you access to a large number of benefits including marketing benefits or Go-To-Market benefits. These benefits include resources such as the partner “Go-To-Market” toolbox, how-to market with Microsoft consultation, profile optimization and referral management, digital marketing content on demand, ready-to-go marketing assets, geo expansion readiness assessment, and Co-selling with Microsoft. These resources can help you increase the visibility of your Microsoft CSP business.
Accelerate your journey of becoming a solutions partner with C3
Managing a successful Microsoft CSP business is no easy task. To become a solutions partner you need to earn points under the partner capability score for this you need new customers, an increase in customer usage and deployments, and have to complete certifications. All this can consume a lot of your time and as your business volume increases you will find it increasingly difficult to provide an excellent customer experience. A Microsoft CSP billing automation tool such as C3 can help you increase your partner capability score.
Features such as automated billing can help you cater to more customers with the same resources. Your team members will no longer need to spend hours managing billing and reconciliation. This will allow them to focus their time and energy on adding new customers as well as earning certifications. This can help you score points in the performance and skilling categories. A self-service portal along with multiple integrations will help you deliver a great customer experience. Customers who are happy with your solutions and service are more likely to increase their usage and help you score points under the customer success category.
Book a demo today to learn how C3 can help you grow your Microsoft CSP business.