Experiencing some technical issues, Microsoft is putting off the implementation of a new online system to actively monitor its Gold Partners sales and revenue performance. The system will go live until October 2012, but solution providers will still have to report their revenue to Microsoft manually to maintain their Gold eligibility.
The announcement came last week when Microsoft also announced slight changes in the Gold Partner revenue requirements. The company said, “Measurement of gold competency revenue has been delayed until October 2012. Partners with a gold competency must meet the revenue amount by their next membership renewal date that occurs after October 2013. Until October 2013, partners will continue with the same process that is in place today – agreeing to meet a minimum Microsoft revenue amount based on their respective geography and gold competency.”
Microsoft development of the online, automated tracking system was intended to more closely align partner benefits and rewards with sales and revenue performance. Beginning in October 2012, Microsoft will require Gold partners to attain certain annual revenue thresholds to maintain their Gold status. Revenue requirements vary by product group, but typically fall between $100,000 and $200,000 per year. Failure to meet the minimum revenue requirements may result in a partner being reassigned to Silver or a lower-tier partner segment.
The delay, Microsoft says, will give partners more time to prepare for the more stringent revenue requirements. It also gives Microsoft time to perfect the system. As Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group told Redmond Channel Partner, “To ensure that we have the most accurate revenue measurement systems in place, we are delaying measuring gold competency revenue until October 2012 (as opposed to beginning in October 2011).”
Microsoft has long been at the vanguard of multifaceted metrics for measuring partner performance. In addition to sales and revenue standards, Microsoft has requirements for technical competencies, domain expertise and practices, and customer satisfaction as means for assessing and rewarding partner performance.
The tracking program is intended to give Microsoft greater amounts of data and deeper insight into partner performance. With that level of intelligence, Microsoft will be better able to align partner benefits and rewards with performance.
All channel programs operate on this principle of rewards following performance. However, vendors are notoriously short on ability to track or enforce program benefits because they lack transparency into partner operations. Many vendors are looking to implement new partner relationship management (PRM) platforms to track partner activity and link performance to rewards.
When it comes to tracking partner performance, Microsoft is a leader. Solution providers should monitor the progress of this program. If successful, it will likely be replicated by other vendors.
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Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at [email protected].
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