Using a Microsoft Reseller? Maximize the Relationship

For many large organizations, managing Microsoft is a multifaceted beast.  In addition to handling your day-to-day Microsoft interactions, there are likely other areas where you may not be as focused.  Beyond managing solutions for your knowledge workers, deskless workers, Azure platform, Microsoft support, Professional Services, etc., there is an often-overlooked layer — your Microsoft reseller relationship.

Microsoft boasts over 90,000 Cloud Solution Provider resellers, who they encourage to have a growth mindset.  In a Microsoft-sponsored e-book, IDC has calculated that for every $1 revenue that Microsoft generated in 2020, partners produced $9.58 of revenue through services and software.  In total, IDC predicts partners generated $984B in revenue from Microsoft technology.  By 2024, IDC expects this top line figure to grow to $1.2T, which equates to partner revenue of $10.04 for every $1 of Microsoft revenue.

In our work with global enterprises of all shapes and sizes, we found that just about every reseller relationship is unique.  Some organizations leverage their reseller heavily, perhaps even too heavily.  For these organizations, it is important to establish a direct relationship with Microsoft, not just the reseller.

Other organizations simply use their reseller as a paper processing agent, or not heavily enough.  For these organizations, there is value that is not being realized.

It is critically important to strike the right balance with your Microsoft reseller.  Keep in mind that while they can certainly provide tremendous value, it is very likely that your reseller has a bigger relationship with Microsoft than they do with you.  Utilizing your reseller effectively, without an over-reliance, is key.

Cadence/Reseller Engagement

Ensure you establish the right cadence of interaction with your reseller based upon your organization’s needs.  Regular touchpoints can be a good opportunity to ensure that your reseller is focused on the specifics of your enterprise.  Additional sessions focused on ongoing refinement and requirements can be valuable as well.

As an example, does your organization have a good handle on what Microsoft products are being used? If so, you are one step ahead of many companies.  Looking closer, however, do you have an understanding of how your products are being used?  Often, when examining use at a granular feature level, many organizations that were confident in their use quickly realize there is a host of functionality not being used.

After assessing the utilization of a number of organizations, we found that the features that are most often left unused in the M365 bundle include PowerApps and security features tied to Office 365 (e.g., Customer Lockbox, Advanced Threat Protection, Threat Intelligence, etc.), Information Protection and Device Management (e.g., Intune) features within EMS, and security features in Windows 10.  Some of these, like security features, often aren’t being used because companies just haven’t taken the steps to implement them, but others have low usage because Microsoft is struggling to get adoption.

If you are not totally certain on what Microsoft products you are using and how they are being used, you need additional support to maximize the value of your current portfolio.  Engage your reseller to help measure use, focusing on areas where value is not being received, and optimize your portfolio moving forward.

Do not wait until the last minute before your upcoming renewal to do a deep dive, otherwise you will find yourself at the mercy of Microsoft.  They will use any gap in understanding as an opportunity to tell you why you need the latest and greatest Microsoft solutions, versus focusing the conversation on where you can maximize value while satisfying your requirements.  Use your reseller early on to get ahead of this situation.

Here are some examples of what a Microsoft reseller could do:

  • Dedicate investment dollars to help you increase use
  • Give you access to the right consultants to help you get more value
  • Make commitments of what they will provide to help you realize the benefits of new products and more robust editions
  • Provide commitments as to what they will do if expected value is not realized.

Proactive Approach

Has your reseller proactively approached you with how to maximize the value from your current Microsoft solutions?

Work to ensure that your reseller has an understanding of how you are using your Microsoft solutions.  Perhaps they have worked with a similar customer that was struggling to get value from the same features and capabilities as you are.

Has your reseller proactively approached you with the latest Microsoft licensing changes, promotions and offers?

Once the cadence of interaction is established, it is important to ensure a proactive approach from your reseller.  The established regular touchpoints provide an opportunity to question your reseller on the latest updates and information coming from Microsoft.

Challenge Your Reseller and Leverage Your Larger Relationship

Have they worked with you to determine use at a granular level and your needs moving forward?

Don’t be afraid to challenge your current reseller to enhance their working relationship with you.  Focus conversations on the specifics of your organization, rather than the latest solutions that Microsoft is pushing in the market.

Are there other areas of your relationship with your reseller outside of Microsoft?

Many resellers have reseller relationships beyond just Microsoft.  They offer Professional Services and even reseller services for other large software providers such as AWS, Cisco, Adobe, etc. There may be an opportunity to leverage other areas of your reseller relationship.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to see what else is out there, particularly if you feel that your current reseller relationship is not optimized. There are most certainly other certified reseller’s hungry for your business.

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