Tackle’s Microsoft Commercial Marketplace Seller Guide

The Microsoft commercial marketplace has revolutionized B2B software selling, making it easier (and faster) for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to reach customers and accelerate revenue. However, understanding the roles, processes, and programs associated with the Microsoft commercial marketplace can sometimes be intimidating.

This guide is designed to give you an overview of the Microsoft commercial marketplace, and to help you better understand the benefits of partnering with Microsoft to distribute and sell your software on the Marketplace.

Let’s start with the basics.

 

What is the Microsoft commercial marketplace?

Broadly speaking, the Microsoft commercial marketplace is a catalog of solutions for businesses to locate, research, and purchase the software they need.

The Microsoft commercial marketplace allows ISVs to connect with billions of buyers in more than 100 countries and regions.

Within the Marketplace, an ISV’s solutions are listed alongside Microsoft’s suite of solutions. Customers can add your software to their existing Microsoft purchase agreements and receive a consolidated invoice from Microsoft. That means easier, faster software purchases for customers, and increased sales  and brand recognition for ISVs.

Some of the benefits of partnering with Microsoft include:

  • Access to new markets, customer segments, and Microsoft Cloud users.
  • The ability to leverage the Microsoft brand and build trust with your customers.
  • Reduced cost and time to market.
  • Simplified procurement process.

The Microsoft commercial marketplace is composed of two main online catalogs: Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace. Each of these is designed for a specific user, but essentially function the same way.

It’s important to know the differences between Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace to ensure that your solution is targeted to the right audience. The appropriate catalog will be selected based on offer type, categories, and other options. In rare cases, some offers can be listed in both.

 

Microsoft AppSource

Microsoft AppSource is geared toward business users, with listings for solutions – such as SaaS applications – that specifically address common business problems.

AppSource can also host applications that extend into Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Power Platform.

 

Azure Marketplace

Azure Marketplace is targeted for IT professionals and developers looking for solutions built on or for Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service.

Read more: How to Drive Revenue with Azure Marketplace

Through the Azure Marketplace, cloud developers and IT pros can locate, try, and deploy software needed to help manage cloud infrastructure.

 

What are the key Microsoft Partner programs?

One of the first steps to take if you’re thinking about listing on Microsoft commercial marketplace is to join Microsoft’s partner programs.

These programs offer a host of resources and incentives to guide you toward Marketplace success.

The Microsoft Partner Network

The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) is the central hub for ISVs looking to sell on the Microsoft commercial marketplace. Creating an account on the MPN should be your first step, as it unlocks access to everything that follows. Through the MPN, you’ll get access to the Microsoft Partner Center, which is the jumping off point for all-things Microsoft.

The MPN promotes integrity and ethics through its code of conduct and compliance training (thus helping you build trust with potential customers), but it’s also much more than that.

Joining the MPN can significantly boost your visibility to customers. The MPN can help you:

  • Demonstrate capabilities/competencies to customers
  • Drive revenue through Azure managed services
  • Discover different partner offers

In short, membership in the MPN is an essential step toward establishing your ISV as a credible and trusted seller in the Microsoft commercial marketplace.

Members of the Microsoft Partner Network can also purchase the Microsoft Action Pack to enhance their membership. The Action Pack includes additional resources, such as meetings with technical consultants, branding that highlights your product/services, and more. The Action Pack is a good way to “power up” your Microsoft Partner Network membership.

Effective October 2022, Microsoft will be making some modifications to the Microsoft Partner Network, including changing the name to “Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.” We will update this page as more information becomes available.

 

Additional Microsoft resources and programs

Microsoft has many partner resources that can help fuel growth on the Microsoft commercial marketplace and your overall partnership with Microsoft.

When going to market with a new solution, it’s important to have an array of traditional and digital marketing tools at your disposal, and that’s where Microsoft’s go-to-market resources come in handy.

Microsoft’s go-to-market resources are available to Microsoft partners and include a healthy assortment of co-branded and solution-specific collateral, training guides, customizable content, and much more. You’ll also find best-practices and research to help you better market your product, along with tools such as a geo-expansion readiness assessment, to help you determine whether you’re ready to go global with your products and services.

Marketplace Rewards is the primary go-to-market benefit program for selling on the Microsoft commercial marketplace. It’s designed to help your business make the most of its Marketplace investment.

Marketplace Rewards helps you to reach customers and close deals in the Microsoft commercial marketplace through incentives targeted at ISVs at specific stages of growth. As an ISV progresses through these stages, new rewards and incentives are unlocked in a kind of positive feedback loop: as you garner more success in the Microsoft commercial marketplace, you can earn new incentives to help propel you to the next level. There are some specific eligibility requirements for this program as well.

FastTrack for Azure is an enablement program that helps to remove technical barriers for companies looking to develop products for Azure. It’s highly recommended that ISVs apply for the FastTrack program, as it’s a great way to ramp up your partnership with Microsoft. FastTrack facilitates collaboration between the ISV and Microsoft’s engineers to help make sure that the ISV’s products have a better chance of succeeding. There are some eligibility requirements.

The Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub program offers free access to developer tools, mentorship, and up to $150,000 in Azure credits to tech startups committed to developing on the Microsoft Azure platform. This program, like the others listed here, can offer a critical leg-up for early-stage software companies looking to leverage the Marketplace.

Microsoft’s ISV Success Program is a new program designed for ISVs looking to start or enhance their Microsoft journey. Think of it as a combination of Microsoft’s various programs, all rolled into one. Through the ISV Success program, you can take advantage of 1:1 consulting opportunities, including app architecture reviews and publishing consultations. You’ll also have access to code samples, client libraries, and other tools to accelerate growth and more quickly build your cloud GTM business.

Co-selling with Microsoft

Co-selling with Microsoft is a crucial step toward scaling and optimizing your Cloud GTM strategy.

First, let’s define what co-selling is: In a nutshell, co-selling is a collaborative partnership between an ISV and a Cloud Provider in which the Cloud Provider shares sales leads and engages in marketing efforts with the ISV.

Co-sell programs provide an unparalleled opportunity to gain traction in the Marketplace while boosting revenue at the same time.

Read more: Co-Selling 101 for Startups

The Microsoft Co-Sell Program gives sellers access to Microsoft’s co-sell playbook, which includes resources and programs to speed time to market and help you build a stronger business.

The benefits of co-selling through the Microsoft commercial marketplace include:

  • Enhanced visibility to Microsoft’s millions of customers
  • Access to powerful commerce capabilities
  • Access to Microsoft’s existing procurement relationships
  • Access to global markets (up 141 geographies)
  • Access to a global network of resellers
  • Go-to-Market services

Here’s how co-selling with Microsoft works, along with the personas involved:

When a deal gets registered to co-sell, partners will receive a collection of contacts with various titles. It is important for partners to understand what each role’s goals are and how they can work together to help you find and/or close opportunities.

Through co-selling, you’ll receive contact information for Microsoft account executives (AEs) or account managers (AMs) – you’ll find both terms used interchangeably. These folks are motivated to close deals and facilitate co-sell wins. They have specific goals around closing private offers and revenue transacted on Marketplace by their accounts, so they want to help you sell.

The goal of co-selling is to increase your ISV’s visibility for customers and to deepen your engagement with and commitment to Microsoft. Once a certain partner status is achieved, partners can receive additional support and resources like a Partner Development Manager (PDM) and can apply annually for Market Development Funds (MDF) that can be used for events, advertisements, or other lead-generation activities. Co-sell today with Tackle.

Read more: The Alliance Leader’s Cloud Co-sell Playbook

The PDM is a seller’s right-hand person. Depending on your level of investment with Microsoft, these individuals are assigned directly to your organization and are dedicated to helping you succeed. Your PDM is your go-to person when you have questions or any issues involving Microsoft.

New strategic investments in Microsoft commercial marketplace

In July 2023, Microsoft announced new strategic investments in Microsoft commercial marketplace. Highlights include:

The merging of co-sell + commercial marketplace

Starting in July 2023, ISVs must have a transactable listing published in the commercial marketplace to unlock co-sell benefits for eligible Azure solutions and allow customers to leverage their existing cloud commitments. With this announcement, Microsoft is doubling down on co-sell and marketplace and reinforcing that the Cloud GTM movement is broader than just Marketplace.

MPO to open up the commercial marketplace

Microsoft also announced the highly-anticipated release of multiparty private offers (MPO) to accelerate the service partner-led motion with marketplace. Selling partners will not be charged a listing fee when participating in an MPO transaction with an ISV.

Transact & Grow incentives continue

The Microsoft Transact & Grow Incentive Campaign will be continuing. The campaign is designed to reward ISVs for driving sales of transactable offers on Microsoft commercial marketplace. Participants can earn up to $200,000 in cash rewards when reaching billed sales milestones.

 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Who sells on Microsoft commercial marketplace?

The Microsoft commercial marketplace offers a variety of solutions from independent software vendor (ISV) partners. ISVs create, publish, and manage commercial marketplace offers in Partner Center, and the solutions are listed together with Microsoft solutions, connecting ISVs to businesses, organizations, and government agencies around the world.

What type of products are sold on Microsoft commercial marketplace?

The Microsoft commercial marketplace has two main online stores: Microsoft AppSource is for business solutions, such as software as a service (SaaS) applications, and also apps that extend directly into Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Power Platform. Azure Marketplace is for solutions that are built on or built for Azure and intended for IT professionals and developers. This store includes listings for consulting and managed services.

How does Microsoft commercial marketplace handle payments to ISVs?

Offers sold through Microsoft are called transactable offers. An offer that is transactable is one in which Microsoft facilitates the exchange of money for a software license on the ISV’s behalf. Microsoft bills SaaS offers using the pricing model the ISV chooses, and manages customer transactions on the ISVs behalf.

Who shops on Microsoft commercial marketplace?

Microsoft commercial marketplace attracts a wide range of B2B software buyers—from small companies to large enterprises—looking to solve business problems. The variety of products and services available through Microsoft commercial marketplace makes it easy to find solutions.

Is there a listing fee for Microsoft commercial marketplace?

Listing fees are minimal, and more than offset by the convenience, speed, and efficiency of transacting via Marketplace. Microsoft charges a 3% standard store service fee when customers purchase from the commercial marketplace.

How to Get Started with Microsoft commercial marketplace

The Microsoft commercial marketplace can be a highly effective channel for scaling your Marketplace strategy and driving revenue, and Microsoft continues to invest heavily in the Marketplace.

Read more: The Complete Playbook to Cloud Marketplaces

However, it does take some careful planning to get an ISV up and running on the Microsoft commercial marketplace.

Schedule a demo with Tackle to learn how we can help you get listed with Microsoft commercial marketplace and make the most of Marketplace selling.

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