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Channel conflict is a dirty word for most reseller partners, but in a world where vendors are looking to squeeze the most out of all their sales channels, VARs sometimes end up butting heads with a vendor’s direct-sales reps.

To help mitigate channel conflict at the same time it increases revenue opportunities across the board, partner opportunity management provider Blueroads will combine its on-demand software with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create an integrated offering for vendors with direct and indirect multi-channel, multi-tiered sales organizations.

"The solution is designed to take strengths of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and tie it together with strength of Blueroads PRM which is focused on indirect, and make it so the solution enables cross channel sales teams to collaborate more effectively," said Charles Watson, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Blueroads. The technology is designed to manage the customer interaction from managing initial referrals to revenue, according to Watson. 

Although details were not immediately available, Watson says that the technology integration would be at "a fairly deep level where the applications need to exchange data." Blueroads will release more information about the integration, the technology and about pricing in 30 days.

Watson says the integration is "something we do in the field all the time. We have packaged integrations for CRM systems, and now we are formalizing something we are already doing in the field."

The deal does not represent a change in strategy for Blueroads, according to Watson.

"I think we’ve always known no one buys a PRM [partner relationship management] system and just that’s it," he says. "This is basically seeing who the key players are and taking the time to create a partnership to take to market."

Through the formalized integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Blueroads, the deal registration program goes straight into matching and de-duplication and then opportunities will be tracked on a unified forecasting backbone. Data that would logically reside on the CRM system will still reside there and data that makes more sense to reside in the partner relationship management system will stay in Blueroads, Watson said. There will be a global opportunity database and a master account database.
The formal deal with Microsoft for integration with a CRM vendor is the first of its kind for Blueroads, and Watson cites Microsoft’s inroads into big accounts against competitive offerings.

"They are handily taking down large accounts and taking down competitors," he says. "They took down a 10,000 seat deal in financial services just last week."

Microsoft also owns the contact management software of choice, Microsoft Outlook, for sales representatives, making it a natural in terms of managing contacts across the channels.

"When you get business cards you don’t run home and put them in your SFA [sales force automation] system. You put them in Microsoft Outlook," Watson says. And vendors seem to be recognizing the potential of a Blueroads/Microsoft combination.

Blueroads and Microsoft are already working six opportunities together, according to Watson.

However, the relationship is not an exclusive one for either company, and either Microsoft or Blueroads are likely to seek integrations with other strategic partners in the months ahead.

Blueroads and Microsoft said that the strategic agreement between them will enable companies to:

  • Align each lead or opportunity with the best fit sales resource
  • Drive opportunities from first interaction to cash with contextual sales tips and sales cycle guidance
  • Establish collaborative teams that include both direct and indirect sales reps
  • Enhance opportunity tracking and measurement across channels
  • Increase lead performance by ensuring that the right leads get to the right sales reps in real time
  • Improve marketing campaign performance by ensuring that all leads are included in a closed-loop tracking system, and
  • Identify more opportunities by leveraging the full partner and influencer base with a closed-loop lead referral mechanism.