Microsoft Infuses Channel Field Sales with Tools, Resources

By Carolyn April  |  Print this article Print

At the one-year anniversary of Ross Brown joining Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, he explains a raft of changes to the channel field sales team to up their effectiveness and accountability.

When Ross Brown joined Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group as vice president of solution partners and ISVs a year ago, he did what any new executive would do: He started to assess his field channel sales team. And he asked an obvious question: "Who’s our best PAM and how well are they doing?"

No one could tell him. And no one could say whether the best partner account managers happened to be exceptional at driving channel sales or just plain lucky.

"I couldn’t tell whether it was the PAM making the partner successful or the partner making the PAM successful," Brown lamented recently at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

So for the last year, Brown and his team have been building tools and creating processes and metrics to get better visibility into how PAMs and territory managers are doing and mapping ways to support top performers and pull up those who are struggling. It’s about driving change management.

"I have an inverted problem in that it’s not the PAMs having sales problems, but the PAM managers," he said. "Many of these guys made their reputation for success selling Windows and Office, and that’s really all about pull. Now they are working with partners to sell servers and tools and that’s push. It’s a very different type of sale."

The Field Readiness Initiative comprises several new elements and tools, including:

  • Three-year business plans for PAMs based on their specific practice area. The plans are audited and reviewed by Microsoft general managers, who provide feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. The coaching has resulted in more compliance with the business plans and better results in the field with partners, he said.

  • A new partner recruitment tool that maps to every stage in the recruitment process, from identifying partners to getting them activated in one of Microsoft’s skills competencies. Brown said he assigned 100 PAMs to recruit partners from competitors and use the tool to gain visibility into each opportunity. There is a similar tool to track revenue targets by solutions workload type.

  • New partner technical advisers that are tasked with helping partners translate their specific technical skills into having IP management and sales skills in the field.

The end goal of all the new tools and training resources is to drive partner sales by making sure they have the proper support in the field from Microsoft, Brown said.

"Now we are measuring the quality of what the PAMs are doing," he said. "We’re making it a real channel sales organization."


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