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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

“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,

  • 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.”