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Microsoft Channel Leader: New Program ‘Not About the Points’

“When I talk to partners, I don’t talk about points. I just talk about being customer obsessed,” says Microsoft’s David Smith.

Christine Horton

October 19, 2022

2 Min Read
Microsoft's David Smith at Canalys Forum Barcelona 2022

CANALYS FORUM 2022 — Microsoft’s U.S. channel leader says the company’s new points-based program is merely a mechanism to be more customer-centric.

“In my mind when I talk to partners, I don’t talk about points. I just talk about being customer obsessed,” said David Smith, vice president, worldwide channel sales, Microsoft U.S. “We’re just trying to find value. I could look at each individual partner here and each is unique. I have four kids, and none of them is the same. We’re trying to make sure that there’s a way for you to differentiate and really show your superpower.

“This approach allow the partners to differentiate in a unique way,” Smith continued. “Points is a mechanism to do that, but it’s not the primary pivot.”

The exec was speaking as a panellist at Canalys Forum 2022 in Barcelona. He told attendees that the previous Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) “served us well” with gold and silver tiers. But partners were demanding more.

Microsoft revealed the transition from the MPN to the new program just over six months ago. The firm introduced six partner designations and partner capability scores required to achieve each designation. Microsoft now tabulates those scores based on performance, skills and certifications and customer success.

Despite partner complaints, the company maintained its Oct. 3 launch date.

Smith (pictured on stage above) maintained it was “one of the more exciting, most well thought out changes” that Microsoft has made for the channel.

Skilling the Channel

Smith also said the new program is “doing amazing things to help skill the channel.”

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

“Via the new programmatic changes, we’re investing more than ever before,” said Smith. “Frankly, massive amounts into the skilling that needs to happen within the channel partners,” he said.

“It’s extremely important, not only from a customer perspective, because they’re going to receive the benefit of that scaling. But also within your own organisation. What we’re hearing, especially during COVID and post-COVID, is it’s hard for you to retain talent. We’re going to invest in your people so that you can do great things with your customers.”

‘The Right Direction’


Insight’s Joyce Mullen

Joyce Mullen, president and CEO of Insight, on the same panel, said she thought “the direction is exactly right.”

However, she said, “We need to figure out how to make sure we’re building creating more value for our clients. And we do that by focusing on the fastest growing areas of the industry.”

Computacenter CEO Mike Norris, also on the panel, declined to comment on the new program.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Christine Horton or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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