It looks like Microsoft Business Solutions is going to try to kick start sales by increasing the number of resellers and turning up the pressure on selling.

How else to read comments by Doug Burgum, who heads MBS, and Orlando Ayala, newly appointed chief operating officer of the Fargo, N.D.-based unit?, “We are investing in partner coverage and recruitment for MBS,” Ayala said in an interview with him and Burgum published in on Monday.

Increasing coverage usually means filling in geographical holes. But given the number of resellers out there, how many holes are there to cover? One MBS reseller recently said there are five MBS Inner Circle partners competing in his market and that competing with them for clients was like having vultures battling over a carcass. Don Nelson, general manager of managed partners, two levels down from Ayala, said earlier that MBS will continue to authorize new resellers, adding that there is lots of room for two-person shops. Anyway you look at it, the field will get more crowded.

At the same time, MBS is increasing the number of people whose compensation depends on meeting quotas from 200 to 600. Besides putting more vultures around the carcasses, the swarms of flies buzzing around partners’ heads will become more intense.

Triggering all this was the 4 percent rise in revenue in May, largely from Navision sales overseas. Microsoft has said it expects zero revenue for June. Burgum used the standard response that the 4 percent was within expectations. MBS went from 40 percent revenue growth for the December quarter (which I continue to believe got a bump from an increase in Navision maintenance fees) to 4 percent to a predicted zero percent this quarter. I’m sure that went Gates and Ballmer plunked down $2.5 billion for Great Plains and Navision, they had higher expectations. But this is one reason there are 100 fewer people working in what was the Findlay, Ohio, office.

Frankly, some resellers are wondering if MBS will take a page from the old State of the Art model (the company that became the mid-market division of Best Software). SOTA had 7,000 or more resellers and every time the company issued an official upgrade, every reseller had to buy a reference library. It was assured revenue and there are those who think MBS will embark on a channel stuffing strategy.

Otherwise, it’s hard to see more VARs being able to sell accounting systems into a saturated market. But MBS is going to try. So if there isn’t an MBS VAR on your corner, there soon will be.

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