Fusion 2002: MS forks out the soft dollars

Fusion 2002: MS forks out the soft dollars

Microsoft has announced that it will commit $5 million to joint marketing schemes with its channel partners in one of the largest soft-dollar boosts the channel has enjoyed in several years.

The 500-plus resellers at the software giant's Fusion 2002 partner conference were enthusiastic about the opportunity, many excitedly formulating marketing campaigns over their lunch breaks to prepare a pitch to Microsoft executives.

The $5 million will be committed over the next 12 months to provide rewards and incentives to partners focused on selling Microsoft solutions in the small and medium business market. Resellers with suitable applications will be able to request that Microsoft pay for up to 50 per cent of their costs when running a marketing campaign based on Microsoft products.

To qualify for the co-op funding, a reseller's marketing campaign has to meet several prerequisites. It needs to be focused on the SMB market and must include one of Microsoft's key small business products (Windows XP, Office XP, Windows 2000 server, or Small Business Server). The partner must demonstrate a focus on selling Microsoft solutions into the future, and the campaign must include comprehensive planning, a customer call to action and follow-ups.

"In the past we've received a lot of marketing campaigns where resellers couldn't tell us how they would follow up," said Microsoft's group manager for SMB channel programs, Alex Keay. "There's no point in doing it unless you can close the sale."

In addition to the co-op marketing funds, resellers will also benefit from $750,000 in additional technical training resources and $2 million in new channel programs and certification programs. The vendor has also hired 30 additional sales and marketing staff to assist channel partners in targeting the small business sector.

For more information on this initiative and other news from Microsoft's Fusion conference, see this week's issue of ARN.

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