Microsoft Business Solutions has announced that it will release its long-awaited Customer Relationship Management software in Australia in January 2004.
The vendor has also come up with a scheme to ensure that the release of the software opens up new channel opportunities without upsetting those resellers that have invested heavily in Microsoft Business Solutions products in the past.
Microsoft estimates that the “Professional Edition” of Microsoft CRM, complete with all available modules, will sell for about $2000 based on a 20-user site. The vendor will also offer a “Standard Edition”, consisting only of the sales module, for about $700-720 based on a 20-user site.
Of most importance to the reseller channel, however, is how Microsoft’s partners will be goaled around selling the software. When ARN reported earlier in the year that Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) would be opening up the CRM product to the wider Microsoft channel, not just the MBS channel, many long-time MBS accredited resellers felt that their commitment to such accreditation was not being rewarded.
Product marketing manager for Microsoft CRM, John Watt, has come up with a scheme to ensure that all partners are justly rewarded for their commitment to the product.
Watt and his team at Microsoft Business Solutions Australia have come up with a “CRM Certified Software Advisor Fee” program that sets out different margins for Microsoft resellers, according to their commitment to the CRM product.
Under such a scheme, the product is available to all Microsoft partners under volume licensing, but margins for doing so without accreditation peak at about 10 per cent.
To achieve a higher margin, resellers are asked to pass examinations and become Microsoft CRM certified. They also must be involved in an end-to-end engagement with the customer – from pre-sales through to implementation. Fulfilling both of these criteria attracts a margin of about 20 per cent.
Finally, as an added incentive, certified CRM partners that meet or beat specified volume goals are able to achieve a further 10 per cent margin (rebate) – meaning that the maximum margin for selling Microsoft’s CRM software is in the order of 40 per cent.
“It’s a carrot,” Watt said. “We want our partners certified and we want our customers satisfied.”
“We also want to preserve a high value channel model at Microsoft Business Solutions, but recognise at the same time that CRM has the potential to attract a wider range of opportunities,” he said.
The scheme has thus far attracted several resellers to pilot programs around the CRM product – to such a degree of success that Watt thinks that his incentive model may be mirrored by Microsoft Business Solutions on a global basis.