Microsoft Sales Tool Kit -- The Guide

A handy booklet brings partners up to speed on Microsoft product basics.

Microsoft is fond of saying that its partners sell 350 different Microsoft products. Those partners can be forgiven if they don't know details about most of the products in Microsoft's overwhelming portfolio.

When partners do need a few key facts or a refresher on an unfamiliar product, there's an underused Microsoft Partner Program benefit to help. The Microsoft Sales Tool Kit is a compilation of dense, one- or two-page overviews on dozens of products and programs that's available via download or as a compact 150-page booklet.

What It Is
The tool kit is divided into two main sections: Sales Bytes, with 65 entries, and Microsoft Volume Licensing, with 10 entries.

The Sales Bytes are subdivided into promotions, applications, platform, communication and collaboration, data management, security, management, e-business, speech and storage, Microsoft Dynamics and support tools up-sell.

Several consistent elements make up the Sales Bytes. Each starts with a "What Is It?" product overview. Next, a "How Do I Order It?" section contains specific SKU or part numbers for different licensing options for each edition. For example, the ordering section for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 includes 34 unique SKUs covering different packaging, licensing and payment options. A "How Do I Sell It?" section takes up half of the first page in most cases. Rounding out most entries are "Frequently Asked Questions," "System Requirements" and "Additional Resources."

Microsoft Volume Licensing entries are slightly more irregular, containing components ranging from benefits tables to the product description of Zune, Microsoft's answer to the Apple iPod. (Zune's inclusion in the licensing section makes sense when you read the "How Do I Sell It?" section. It turns out the Software Assurance Employee Purchase Program gives employees a 35 percent discount on Microsoft products, including Zune.)

The Good
There are several things to like about the sales tool kit. For one, it's up-to-date, with content thoroughly refreshed each quarter. Eight entries in the August-November 2007 edition were brand new: Microsoft Expression Studio, Office Communications Server 2007, Office Live Meeting, Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007, System Center Essentials 2007, Commerce Server 2007, Windows Mobile 6 and Zune. An additional 24 entries had been updated since the last edition, including Windows Vista, Exchange Server 2007, SQL Server 2005, System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Microsoft Dynamics-GP.

And for any partner involved in ordering Microsoft products, the kit's product-by-product SKU number tables make it a must-have.

The Bad
There's little to complain about in this solid resource. By design, its product information doesn't offer much depth. In some entries, Microsoft's eagerness to pack in as much information as possible results in type so small that it's difficult to read.

While a few Sales Bytes included cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, it would be helpful if these were slightly more detailed and were included for more products.

The kit also suffers from an across-the-board Microsoft problem: a lack of roadmap information. A section in the FAQ detailing the name or code name of the next version along with its approximate ship date would arm partners for a common customer question, especially at times when partners are trying to sell Software Assurance.

How to Get It
There are four ways to get the information in the tool kit, and all are available from Gear Up (, Microsoft's sister site to the Microsoft partner portal. On the Gear Up homepage, click Sales, then select Sales Tool Kit. From there, you can order the booklet by mail, download a PDF version, download a Microsoft One Note file or view a PDF of any individual entry.

Bottom Line
The Microsoft Sales Tool Kit is a great way to get up to speed on nearly any Microsoft component of a partner solution. Get a copy every quarter and keep it in your laptop bag.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.