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Looking to eventually reward smaller VARs for their sales influence with Microsoft customers, the software giant this week unveiled a new program called the U.S. Influence Revenue Model.

The program is designed to capture data about which of the smaller Microsoft VARs is doing a good job of selling Microsoft products and services. Microsoft doesn’t currently collect that information because only one of the company’s three licensing programs can be sold through small resellers. The other two types of agreements, Enterprise Agreements and Select Agreements for IT shops with 250 or more seats, are only available through what Microsoft calls Large Account Resellers, or LARs. Microsoft only has 18 LARs.

To get around this roadblock, over the past few years smaller resellers have gone through LARs in order to make those particular agreements available to their customers. But that practice left Microsoft in the dark about who was doing the biggest sales among the smaller VARs.

To resolve this issue, the Redmond, Wash.-based software company created the new program.

“This program helps large account resellers by formally driving the message to partners to connect to a LAR,” said Mike Haines, general manager of partner strategy for Microsoft’s U.S. partner group and the architect of the new plan. “That helps LARs build their own partner networks and leverage those to grow their businesses.”

So far 14 of Microsoft’s 18 LARs have formally signed on to the program, Haines said, and 13 of those are ready to go with it; the other will be ready this summer.

The rewards for Microsoft’s smaller VARs are less concrete at this point, but Haines promised more details in the months to come as the company begins to collect data about its smaller partners’ sales influence.

Currently Haines said there are “soft” benefits available to those smaller VARs.

“If Microsoft knows about the influence a partner has, we can do a better job of planning and make better decisions about marketing funds,” he said. In addition, in some cases large account resellers will compensate small resellers for bringing in the deals.

One LAR believes the benefits are compelling for small partners and are likely to improve over time.

“The program gives partners a chance to be recognized for their efforts,” said Peter Ells, director of strategic relations for Zurich-based SoftwareONE, one of Microsoft’s LARs. “I think there will eventually be financial incentives [for small partners].”

Haines expects the software giant to reveal further details about rewards for small resellers when Microsoft’s new fiscal year begins in July.

Customers are expected to benefit through the more personalized service that can be provided by smaller resellers.

Microsoft has formally announced the program to Gold and Certified partners in the United States. Registered partners have not been formally notified, but if they request it they can also be included in the program, Haines said.

The program uses standard Microsoft tools and reporting, according to Haines. And it is part of a larger strategy in which the company is “looking at a variety of ways that partners play an influencing role in the market place.”

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include comments from one of Microsoft’s LARs.