Top 10 Factors to Consider When Selecting an Indirect Provider

You could have the best of the best and still come up short but with partnering with the right Indirect Provider you can cover all fronts.

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    If you’re a Microsoft solution provider running into challenges growing your business, it might just be a matter of missing one or two key components that go into building a high-functioning machine. Maybe your team is strong in marketing but isn’t closing as many deals as you want. Or you’ve got a great sales team but find it difficult to produce enough legitimate leads.

    You could also have superior, senior-level technical talent but lack resource bandwidth when coming across large deployment opportunities. Perhaps you could use access to training resources or add-on software solutions that increase the value of the Microsoft solutions you deliver to your customers.

    And even if you have the marketing, sales, and technical components nailed down, you might still need help establishing back-office systems and workflows that enable your accounting team to function more efficiently.

    Filling the Gaps Holding You Back

    To solve challenges like these and increase your ability to grow your business, it often makes sense to turn to a Microsoft Indirect Provider. They can help you fill the gaps that are holding you back from

    going to market faster with new solutions and growing your business more efficiently.

    Microsoft has built a global network of qualified Indirect Providers you can turn to take care of marketing, sales, billing, and support so you can focus more resources on your customers. But choosing the right partner can be tricky. You want to collaborate with an Indirect Provider who syncs with your culture and offers a wide spectrum of services you can choose from as your needs change.

    As you start your Indirect Provider selection process, here are the Top 10 Factors to consider:

    #1 Marketing and Lead-Generation Programs—The leading Indirect Providers offer a partner portal where you can leverage turnkey, white label marketing campaigns for specific solutions such as Dynamics 365, Azure, Power Platform, and Microsoft 365. You should be able to easily tweak the campaigns for specific verticals. If the provider offers a marketing campaign engine within the portal, you can easily modify content and automatically run nurture campaigns driven by email templates with access to white papers, eBooks, and other marketing assets. The best providers also won’t leave you on your own. They will give you access to a artner development manager who can arrange for training and host regular workshops on how to use the portal.

    #2 Enablement and Training Programs—Also look for an Indirect Provider who has developed enablement and training programs to help you expand your solution offerings across the entire Microsoft Cloud Platform and for specific verticals. Whether you’re targeting financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, or another industry, they can help you launch tailored solutions. In the training realm, the Indirect Provider should help you identify the types of training your team needs and offer their own programs as well as access to Microsoft sales training programs. Ideally, the training should go into specific guidance such as how to manage projects, track project accounting, and build Power Platform apps and dashboards in a day.

    #3 Pre-Sales & Sales Support—New sales reps often need help to close on business. An Indirect Provider can offer pre-sales and sales support for all Microsoft Cloud Platform and on-premises solutions across industry verticals. They can help you qualify prospects and lead them through the journey to win proposals that generate sufficient margins. The Indirect Provider can also assist in determining which licensing package is best for your customers as well as solution architecture requirements, demos, presentations, and proof of concept programs. If necessary, Microsoft resources can be brought in to assist with sales proposals and to provide access to project funding resources.

    #4 Best in Class eCommerce Marketplace—Work with an Indirect Provider who can set you up with a white label eCommerce marketplace to help you expand sales across the Microsoft Cloud Platform. This enables you to present Dynamics 365, Azure, Power Platform, and Microsoft 365 solutions to specific verticals along with the service SKUs you offer and third-party software solutions that integrate easily with and expand the value of Microsoft solutions. An eCommerce site also makes it easy for your customers to self-service their software needs and automates the provisioning of software as well as invoicing and payments. You get access to reporting to reconcile business activity and Azure consumption, and should you or your customers need assistance with the site, the Indirect Provider can offer a team with expertise in ordering, licensing, and invoicing.

    #5 Professional Services & Support Catalog—Should you need additional professional services or support for any of your customer engagements, an Indirect Provider can assist with both cloud and on-premises Microsoft solutions. This enables you to take on any project, no matter how big the scope. The professional services team can also help you add on third-party software solutions that you can markup to earn sufficient margins. The leading Indirect Providers give you easy and fast access to resources along with a service catalog and packaged offerings for the entire Microsoft Cloud Platform, including Managed Services.

    #6 Support Services—Once you deploy solutions, ongoing technical support and license management are critical. These ensure customers continue to generate value from the work you have done for them—and keep coming back for future solution implementations. An Indirect Provider can be your support resource for both cloud and on-premises Microsoft solutions while also providing tools to track customer account margins. The monthly subscription fees for the support services can be marked up to increase the amount of revenue your firm generates, and the Indirect Provider can assist with developing customer support plans to ensure long-term success.

    #7 Dedicated Partner Development Management Team—Across all of the first six factors, it’s just as important for your Indirect Provider to allocate a dedicated account manager and go-to team you can turn to for all your needs. They should serve as an extension of your internal team and collaborate side-by-side to ensure the success of the partnership. Whether it’s strategic practice development across the Microsoft Cloud Platform and on-premises solutions, or project accounting, licensing, marketing campaign support, pre-sales, sales, or professional services, you can always turn to a familiar team.

    #8 Development Services —We touched upon the importance of access to third-party software solutions in some of the factors above. It’s important to look for an Indirect Provider with a dedicated ISV development center for Dynamics 365, Azure, Power Platform, and Microsoft 365 solutions. In addition to distributing and integrating third-party software that aligns with Microsoft AppSource publishing requirements, they can assist with any custom coding one of your customers might require to get Microsoft solutions working to meet all their requirements. When needed, the Indirect Partner can also bring in Microsoft developer resources to assist.

    #9 Robust Suite of ISV Add-On Applications—Leading Indirect Providers feature a robust suite of add-on applications from independent software vendors (ISVs) for which they are licensed distributors. The Indirect Provider can assist in integrating these applications with cloud and on-premises Microsoft solutions and tailor them for customers in specific industry verticals. They can also assist in managing the integration as a separate project to keep the deliverables moving on time and within the project budget. All of the ISV add-ons should be easily accessible through a portal hub.

    #10 Partner to Partner Opportunities—A final important factor to consider is your Indirect Provider’s ability to connect you with other partners. This capability is ideal when you come across a project that requires specific technical knowledge or help in a geography that’s outside of your normal base of operations. With a large enough partner network, the Indirect Provider can also link you up with expertise in specific industries. Look for the flexibility to establish direct relationships with other partners rather than having the Indirect Provider broker the arrangements.

    It’s All About Enablement

    As these 10 factors demonstrate, collaborating with an Indirect Provider is all about enablement—whether you need help with marketing, sales, project management, solution design and implementations, training, technical resources, software integrations, eCommerce, or back-office billing and payments. An Indirect Partner will work closely with you to determine where you need help and find a way to efficiently deliver the resources you need to grow your business and expand the solutions you offer across the entire Microsoft Cloud Platform and on-premises solutions.

    Many Microsoft solution providers have discovered the ideal Indirect Provider by turning to the Stratos Cloud Alliance. We provide all the tools, services and support a Microsoft partner needs to build a profitable business. Our team is dedicated to helping you grow your business at the pace and investment level that is right for you. We can help you find new clients and earn their trust as you deliver projects in new areas. To learn more contact us today