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Microsoft creates the Ultimate VAR

Software maker looks to SMB channel partners with new licensing effort

Microsoft Canada is launching a new program called the Ultimate VAR in an attempt to bring more licensing value and rebates to resellers who serve local communities.

Through some internal research, Microsoft Canada found its current licensing program for 250 seats and above was not doing the job for many SMB customers in Canada. “We figured there was no base value in that program and what we have seen is that smaller customers are more likely to buy for a local reseller,” said Eric Gales, head of SMS at Microsoft Canada.

In that research, Microsoft Canada found that 180 VARs contribute more than 70 per cent of the sales for Microsoft software. Gales said that subsidiary wanted a better program to get to know this important channel. The new program will offer training on selling the right license type and rebates. Those rebates are currently being worked on and will be ready for the Oct. 10 launch. “We are really targeting the traditional VARs here who sell hardware, software and licenses. We want them to get closer to Microsoft and get them more licensing value,” he said.

The company is targeting resellers who have done more than $75,000 worth in open licensing sales and inviting them to join the program. There will also be opportunity for resellers who have done $50,000 or more to join later on this year.

Another benefit to these VARs will be a seat at the table with senior management.

All the major distributors will be involved with this program and Gales believes the Ultimate VAR program will be complimentary to other distribution programs available.

Sometimes, Gales added, the distribution list does not match Microsoft’s list of SMB channel partners. “It is important to help each other out,” he said.

One requirement to join the Ultimate VAR program will be that the VAR must have a licensing specialist on staff. Gales said that Microsoft would help the VAR in this regard. “Licensing is flexible, but complex and we want to help customers navigate through it,” he said. The partners also have to provide three references to qualify for the program. “This program allows them to differentiate and we will solicit their feedback. If there is a regional focus, we can help them with marketing intelligence and help them navigate with other partners,” he said.

Gales believes that the program will more or less stay around 180 partners because some partners will drop off because they have done one sale that was worth $75,000 or more, while others will join after reaching the clip level.

According to James Nicholson, partner marketing manager at Microsoft Canada, the subsidiary will be marketing the Ultimate VAR program with a multi-touch roll out. There will be a hard copy mailer and a live meeting that will include a USB-key that helps them registered for the meeting. The Ultimate VAR program will be part of the Microsoft Partner newsletter and a new Web site is also in the works, Nicholson said.