Microsoft should prioritise training, education over sales targets, Aussie partner says

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Microsoft should prioritise training, education over sales targets, Aussie partner says

The Australian Microsoft partner leading a petition protesting the vendor’s recently announced New Commerce Experience (NCE) and partner changes says building up skills and education is a better way to reward partners instead of forcing them to focus on sales targets.

The partner, who asked to be identified as “George”, started a petition on titled, “Disapprove October 2022 Microsoft Partner Network Changes”, asking Microsoft to reconsider the new partner requirements.

Microsoft Australia and local channel chief Rachel Bondi declined to comment on the petition.

Announced earlier this month, Microsoft plans to add a new indicator to measure partner success called the partner capability score (PCS) in October 2022. Partners would require a PCS of at least 70 points out of an available 100 to qualify as a “solutions provider”, one of two levels under the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

Microsoft global channel chief Rodney Clark said the changes sought to “address some unintended business models” created from the vendor’s Cloud Solution Provider program.

In the petition, George said the new program has shifted to "sell, sell, sell at all costs” and “will be impossible to achieve”, and that Microsoft isn’t rewarding partners for loyalty.

Speaking to CRN, George said that while a partner scoring system is “a fantastic thing”, the way Microsoft weighs the scores was the main complaint, which skewed more heavily towards new product sales.

“When we look at the weighted score for the October 2022 changes, if we’re going out of a total of 100, partners can only achieve up to a maximum of only 25 points as an education component,” he said.

“So if I upskill my entire office here, that only counts to about 25 percent out of the total 100, while the rest is stipulated around selling.”

George said Microsoft should instead reward partner loyalty instead and place a larger emphasis on skilling.

“We don’t want to be an IT company that is very comfortable, and that by upskilling people, you remove a little bit of that comfort that can quite often settle in,” he said.

“The certification element is huge, but there needs to be a bigger reward for that within any metric that you’re providing. So if you have a score out of 100 and if we really care about people's education and well-being and if you truly cared about the customer, you would give a lot more than 25 percent towards education.

“Our differentiator is our service, which is improved by education services not improved by the products that we're selling. Everyone sells the same [Microsoft] 365 product, and the only difference behind the product you are selling is the individual putting it together.

“You want to help me improve my education? Give me more than 25 basis points on that. If you really care about it, maybe give it 50, maybe even 60 points. Because if we all certify, our customers will see the benefit.

“But if we’re just focusing on ‘sell, sell, sell’, how will my current customers benefit from me having sales targets? Or do I have to go out and win other new business?”

George added that his firm has put more focus on retaining a client base compared to bringing in new customers, citing the more difficult task of acquiring new customers compared to looking after existing ones.

“We all know that as an MSP, it's not easy to get new business. It's also not easy to maintain a relationship. We have to look after [the customers] we currently have. Yes, we are working at getting new clients, but at the same time, the most important thing for an MSP is what it currently has, and that will always be the case because customers come and go all the time,” he said.

“If we had many more people in the world certified in using Microsoft products, the world would be a better place, so I think [the company] hasn't put enough emphasis on that.”

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