Channel Watch

Microsoft Rolls out Matchmaker for Partners

Programs: New portal looks to link partners with complementary experience and bridge regional gaps.

In a move aimed at helping partners refer leads to other solution providers who may offer complementary products and services, Microsoft is offering a new lead-generation portal.

Called Matchmaker, it's a registry of sorts intended to allow a solution provider that specializes in, say, platform implementations, and spots a need for an ERP or CRM offering to refer the lead to a Microsoft Dynamics partner. Matchmaker, which became available to partners across the United States on April 10, is also suited for partners who have customers with other geographic locations outside the areas the partners service.

Time will tell whether solution providers are comfortable sharing their partner relationships through Matchmaker. But 600 partners have already started using the tool since Microsoft made it available in the central region a year ago, said Allison Dawson, a regional marketing manager for Dynamics.

Dawson gave a presentation of Matchmaker to partners attending an April local meeting of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP) in New York. "By no means is this a substitute for face-to-face relationships," Dawson told partners. "But hopefully it's a nice complement to what you're already doing. I'd encourage you to take a look at some of the opportunities that you have visibility into and use Matchmaker to pass [on] some of those opportunities."

Incentives and Opportunities
To incent partners to register leads for potential ERP or CRM opportunities, Microsoft is offering $250 for each qualified lead through June 15. Microsoft has currently earmarked up to $40,000 for the incentives, and Dawson's team is lobbying corporate to extend the incentives, Dawson told partners.

Dawson emphasized that only those who register their own profiles will have the opportunity to be on the receiving end of potential opportunities. Dawson pointed out that for platform partners, ERP and CRM are typically unfamiliar territory.

Those partners who point to opportunities typically benefit from further system upgrades, including Office and other applications, she said. For example, 70 percent of Dynamics customers upgrade their SQL Server databases. "Passing an opportunity in the near term will put additional dollars in your pocket for additional services," she said.

Welcoming Matchmaker
At the IAMCP meeting, Dawson demonstrated the system, which can be accessed at Partners can start by creating a new log-in by entering their basic contact information and their Microsoft Partner Program ID (MSPP ID), which will populate a user's certification information into the system.

Partners can edit their profiles with any further information, such as additional specialties, competencies and certifications. Once a partner is established in the system, the process for setting up leads is menu-driven. Privacy mode is the default by design, Dawson said, with the aim of making partners more comfortable interacting with those they may not know.

If a partner cannot find a suitable solution provider, he or she also has the option of submitting the lead to a local partner account manager (PAM). Using the system could affect how PAMs view partners. "This gives PAMs the ability to reward behavior and see who is sharing with whom," Dawson said.

Dawson told partners she'd like to see the system expanded in the future with additional capabilities, such as space for blogs and a way for partners to rate one another.

Partners who saw the demo welcomed the new tool. "You still have to build a relationship, but this provides communication to do that," said Mark Mayer, vice president of sales and marketing at Aspen Technology Solutions, a Hopatcong, N.J.-based solution provider. Mayer said he believed that Dawson is committed to the program. "She seemed to be a strong internal champion and seems proactive in making it work," he said.

For Steven Ferman, president of Pine Brook, N.J.-based CompuVault Inc., Matchmaker could be a useful tool for building business that complements his company's specialty of online backup and network monitoring. "There are partners who don't do that, so it could be a good deal," Ferman said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.


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