👋🏻 Hello and welcome to this edition of Interesting Stuff, your fortnightly dose of things I think you’ll find interesting if you’re in the world of Azure, partners, small business, and Microsoft. I’m James Marshall, SMB Azure Partner Success Lead for the UK at Microsoft, and if you find this content useful please remember to subscribe and share this with your network. Thank you! 😎

In this edition, you’ll find:

💭 My thoughts on selling Azure solutions.
📝 A summary of the latest Azure updates.
📰 Interesting articles I’ve seen around the web.

Some Thoughts

In a previous edition of Interesting Stuff, I wrote about how to price Azure solutions. Today, I want to explore how to sell them; particularly in a highly competitive market. Microsoft Azure is a powerful cloud platform that offers a range of solutions for different business needs. So, how do you stand out from other partners who offer similar products and services? How do you convince your customers that Azure is the best choice for their cloud journey?

The answer is simple: lead with business outcomes achieved through partner value. Partner value is the unique and differentiated value proposition that you offer to your customers as a Microsoft CSP partner. It is not just about the features and benefits of Azure, but also about how you can help your customers achieve their goals, solve their challenges, and transform their business with Azure. Partner value is what sets you apart from the crowd and makes you a trusted advisor to your customers.

What is My Value?

I like to say, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that the best way to sell Azure, is to stop selling Azure; or, to sell the outcome not the tech. When you focus on the outcome you unlock the higher margins and increased profitability we all seek.

Your partner value therefore is the combination of your expertise, experience, and services that you provide to your customers. It is the answer to the question: why should your customers buy your Azure-powered solutions and not someone else’s? It’s not a one-size-fits-all concept, but rather a tailored and customized approach that reflects your unique strengths and capabilities as a partner to deliver business outcomes for your customers.

Some examples of partner value are:

  • Providing end-to-end solutions that span across the entire cloud lifecycle, from assessment and migration to optimization and management.
  • Offering specialized skills and knowledge in a specific industry, domain, or technology area, such as healthcare, retail, or analytics.
  • Delivering value-added services that enhance the customer experience, such as training, support, or development.
  • Creating innovative (and repeatable!) solutions that make use of Azure’s advanced features and capabilities, such as hybrid and multi-cloud orchestration, security, or AI.

How to Lead with Partner Value?

Unlike me, most people don’t wake up and think about how much Azure they need in their life. They think about challenges that matter to their business; growth, competition, attracting and retaining talent, reducing operational costs, innovating, and so on. As the saying goes, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!

Leading with partner value means putting your value proposition at the forefront of your sales conversations with your customers by focusing on how you can help your customers achieve their desired outcomes, rather than just pitching the features and benefits of Azure. It means demonstrating your credibility, trustworthiness, and differentiation as a partner, rather than just competing on price and product. And it means creating a long-term relationship with your customers, rather than just closing a transaction.

Some tips on how to lead with partner value are:

  • Understand your customers’ needs, challenges, and goals, and align your partner value proposition to them.
  • Use customer stories, case studies, and testimonials to showcase how you have delivered partner value to other customers in similar situations.
  • Highlight your unique capabilities, credentials, and certifications that demonstrate your expertise and experience as a partner.
  • Use funded offerings, proofs of concept, or assessments to show your customers the value of your solutions and services in action.
  • Follow up with your customers regularly and provide ongoing support, guidance, and advice to help them optimize and maximize their Azure investment. <– This one is SO important. Checking back on how your solutions are delivering for the customer can be the difference between them staying with you, or going elsewhere!
  • Make sure every seller knows the pitch. From the newest hire, to the most tenured veteran, every seller in your business should be able to tell your story.

Conclusion

Selling Azure solutions is not just about selling a product, but also about selling a partnership. As a Microsoft CSP partner, you have a unique and differentiated value proposition that you can offer to your customers. By leading with partner value delivering business outcomes, you can stand out from the competition, win more customers, and grow your business with Azure.

Azure Updates

As ever, there’s always something new to know, so here’s a selection of updates you might find interesting: Get the digest!

Interesting Stuff from Others

I recently connected with Richard Tubb and I’m amazed our paths haven’t crossed sooner! Richard invited me to record a ‘bonusode’ for his excellent podcast, talking about the recent Microsoft Ignite conference. It was an absolute pleasure, and I look forward to doing something again in the new year. Catch up on our chat and subscribe to his podcast for more great content!

Until next time…

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