New Orleans (Oct. 13, 2003) -- Microsoft’s accounting and customer relationship management resellers who feel ignored by the software giant due to their small size and comparatively low sales volumes may be pleased to learn of a new partner program that measures more than just revenue.

The company unveiled the new program at a press conference during its Worldwide Partner conference.

Starting Jan.1, 2004 partners will be evaluated on their value from customer feedback, business strategy, as well as sales volumes. These ratings will ultimately help a partner achieve “Gold Partner” status or better, affording them benefits from Microsoft such as additional training and marketing support.

“Being a technology expert isn’t enough anymore – they need to prove their expertise because their customers have an unprecedented range of choices,” said Allison Watson, vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide partner sales and marketing group. “Customers also want a total solution. Industry partners need to offer their customers this expertise or build partnerships with other companies to bring a total solution together.”

Beginning next spring, partners will be able to track the progress of their status on a newly designed Web site.

General manager of channel development Don Nelson said realizes many partners may not take to the new program so quickly, but has confidence in its design.

“We know that having a point system in place will be a challenge so that is why we are giving it a year and allowing partners to check on their status throughout that time,” Nelson said. “Volume and size does matter in the end, but now even a boutique shop with a handful of consultants will have better opportunities. They will have to be really, really good in customer satisfaction and areas other than just volume business and it will be challenging.

-- Seth Fineberg

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