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Enhancing Microsoft’s commercial marketplace for partners

As we head into global partner conference Microsoft Inspire (July 14-18, 2019), the focus is how to help drive more collaboration with and between our partner community and the Microsoft customer base.

As we head into the global partner conference Microsoft Inspire on July 14-18, 2019, a big focus is on rethinking how we make it easier for customers to discover, try, and buy cloud-based software and services from our partners. Today, we’re excited to announce new tools, commerce options, and a rewards program through the Microsoft commercial marketplace that help partners leverage this important distribution channel.

Commercial marketplace as a new distribution channel

Many people think of a commercial marketplace as a simple catalog of offer listings which are often difficult to navigate.  For customers, they are often linked off to a different experience for trial and purchase. Publishers and partner selling solutions are challenged by how to differentiate their solutions to stand out in the volume of offers.

We are working with our partner community to ensure the commercial marketplace experiences deliver a new distribution channel to drive their business growth. For example, Microsoft AppSource targets business decision makers while Azure Marketplace targets IT and developers. This includes having the commerce capabilities and solution supply to capture the rising customer demand in online enterprise software purchases.

Microsoft’s commercial marketplace has at its core, one product catalog, which includes both Microsoft cloud software and services as well as software and services from our partners built on top of and to connect with one or more cloud services offered by Microsoft (Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform, and Azure) publishing as transactable offers. This is not just for independent software vendors (ISVs) creating repeatable intellectual property (IP). The commercial marketplace experiences also support offers from managed service providers (MSPs) and consulting services from systems integrators (SIs) such as one-day assessments, migration offers, and more.

Diagram illustrating one product catalog from Microsoft's commercial marketplace with cater to publishers and buyers

Customers can discover, try, and buy solutions from the marketplace in one of three ways:

  1. Direct from the publishers
  2. Through our field sales teams who retire quota for selling eligible partner solutions, or
  3. Through our global distribution channel, where we now also pay the channel a 10 percent incentive to sell marketplace publisher solutions with a transactable SaaS offer, and who participate in the IP co-sell program.

Customers are looking for quicker buying experiences where they can purchase Microsoft products AND solutions from our partners – together in one place, with one transaction, on a unified invoice, which the commercial marketplace provides.

Using the commercial marketplace as a strategic distribution channel will require partners to think about their business model in new and different ways, which can provide significant new revenue streams. For instance, any publisher can continue to list or trial their solution in Microsoft AppSource or Azure Marketplace, but the impact will likely be similar to what they face today, where the customer discovery experience is crowded due to volume of offers and the publisher struggles to differentiate their solution. However, when a publisher chooses to transact in Microsoft’s commercial marketplace, they get access to a whole new set of benefits and ways to sell:

  • Gain access to a global reseller channel with over 70,000 cloud solution providers (CSP) in over 140 countries who receive an incentive directly from Microsoft when they resell publisher solutions.
  • Provides simplified deal-making with custom contract amendments.
  • Centralized partnership experience via Partner Center for the commercial marketplace onboarding, lead sharing, deal registration, benefits, incentives, sales analytics, and investments.
  • New go-to-market (GTM) benefits via marketplace rewards that unlocks GTM benefits for publishers as they reach various transaction thresholds.

A single onboarding and management experience

Whether a customer buys direct through Microsoft field sellers or through CSP, each of these channels is accessible and managed by partners through a single ingestion point known as Partner Center. Within Partner Center, publishers can publish marketplace offers and manage their engagements, while resellers can bundle Microsoft software and services with publisher’s software and services. This simplifies customer, publisher, and reseller engagement with one transaction and one invoice.

New commerce options

To accompany this new publisher experience, we’ve released new commerce capabilities that partners of all sizes are already starting to benefit from such as ESRI with site-based SaaS, Barracuda, and Trend Micro who use custom business models for their SaaS-based applications. Approved Contact, Crossware, and MongoDB are also using the per-seat SaaS capabilities and managed services from long-time Microsoft partners like Ingram Micro.

These new commerce enhancements allow publishers to customize their offers to meet customer needs and scale through the global reach of Microsoft’s customer and channel communities.

Marketplace rewards

We’re also sharing marketplace rewards, which is a new benefits program which will enhance the success of publishers with transactable offers in the commercial marketplace. Through the program publishers can unlock sales, marketing, and technical benefits to help accelerate their success. As a publisher’s business grows they’ll continue to unlock more benefits designed to provide support at every stage of their growth. This comes with a new badging program for Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace that will quickly direct customers to partner solutions they can trust, which will work with cloud services from Microsoft. We will be publishing additional details on the program next week during Microsoft Inspire.

With these capabilities, publishers will be able to create new revenue streams, reach new customers in new markets, and grow their business faster than ever before.

Next steps

Learn more about how to onboard and publish your offers at Partner Center, how to list them on Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace, and how to take advantage of the new go-to-market services and onboarding resources.

Visit the Microsoft Inspire site, which will be updated with materials, photos, and keynote replays for more highlights from the event.