Microsoft Reveals New Customer Engagement Methodology

At Microsoft Inspire, the company's chief commercial officer said consultative engagements are a key priority for the new fiscal year.

Jeffrey Schwartz

July 21, 2022

5 Slides

MICROSOFT INSPIRE — Microsoft chief commercial officer Judson Althoff revealed a new customer engagement methodology that the company has begun operating by. Althoff (pictured above) outlined the imperative on Wednesday when he led the second day keynote during Microsoft Inspire, the company’s partner event.


Judson Althoff presenting at Microsoft Inspire 2022.

Althoff introduced the customer engagement methodology during Microsoft’s annual sales event to kick off the company’s new fiscal year 2023. The new approach calls for Microsoft’s direct sales force and partners to focus on consultative engagements with customers. Microsoft is putting the new methodology into practice immediately, according to Althoff.

“It’s a consultative methodology because we’re at our best when we make technology serve business outcomes,” Althoff said. “We start by listening and can try to understand the situational fluency and what a customer is trying to navigate in their industry, their line of work and what matters most to them.”

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The next step, he said, is to design solutions that tap the Microsoft cloud across its key solution areas. Similarly, the solutions should include “all of your assets across the partner ecosystem to really bring the best of what technology can deliver,” Althoff said. “This is a moment where we will sign a strategic agreement together with a customer, and really lay out the framework for multi horizon engagement.”

Microsoft is rolling out content and training that goes deeper on how to transition to this approach, Althoff emphasized.

“We’re going to remain customer obsessed,” he said, noting that Microsoft is rolling out a new sales academy designed to apply technology in a consultative manor.

Focus on Industries

Microsoft is also investing in its new industry clouds, which company officials emphasized throughout Inspire as a key focus. Besides the six solution areas designated for the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, the company will launch industry specializations.


Microsoft’s Julie Sanford

Julie Sanford is Microsoft’s new VP of partner go-to-market programs and experiences. She said partners will earn industry designations based on revenue performance, technical assessment of tier solutions and validated customer success. Microsoft is starting with retail, financial services and healthcare, Sanford said.

Microsoft will offer technical and sales skills training associated with its industry verticals.

“In addition to launching rule based technical and sales skilling against the industry clouds, we’re also launching curated learning paths against the cloud services that are requirements for each of these industry clouds to be successful,” Sanford said.

Sanford noted that Microsoft’s go-to-market investments in its industry specializations will focus on the entire customer life cycle.

“We’re going to create demand-generation to drive more marketplace transactions and co-sell opportunities,” she said. “And we’re also launching pre-sales workshops to ensure that we’re turning those leads into real opportunities.”

Meantime, the five principles outlined by Althoff appear in the slideshow above.

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



About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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