New additions to Sherweb’s product portfolio and a hands-on approach to helping partner-customers navigate major changes in the channel, including Microsoft’s new partner capability scores, are part of what’s helping the IT distributor disrupt traditional distribution, Sherweb’s head of sales for channel marketplace said Sunday.
Sherweb’s Michael Slater was pitching his distributor to a crowd of managed services providers (MSPs) and other partners gathered Sunday for CRN parent The Channel Company’s XChange NexGen 2022 conference in Orlando, Fla.
“What this makes is a differentiator in the MSP market,” Sherweb’s Michael Slater told the crowd. “In a world where there’s a million different marketplaces and a lot of parts to commoditize, we’re trying to deliver on value.”
[RELATED: Microsoft Rolls Out NCE Discount, But Controversy Remains]
Dawn Sizer, CEO of Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based 3rd Element Consulting – a member of CRN’s 2022 Managed Service Provider 500 – shared the stage with Slater to talk about what she liked about the distributor.ADVERTISEMENT
She told the crowd that quarterly business reviews with Sherweb where they discuss how to grow her business was one of her favorite offerings from the distributor.
In an interview with CRN after Sherweb’s talk, Sizer said that Sherweb’s smaller size, responsiveness and more hands-on approach with helping partner-customers roadmap their future and access market development funds (MDFs) led her to leave another distributor for Sherweb.
“With them (Sherweb), I didn’t feel like just another account number,” Sizer said. “They checked off more boxes than just taking my money.”
Slater’s talk was followed by a separate presentation by distribution rival Pax8.
Neither distributor referenced each other on stage. When asked about the presentation by Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Pax8, Slater said that he liked the rival’s investment in peer groups and education academies. He said that Sherweb has bootcamps for customers, a partner university and is investing more in peer groups for its members.
In an interview with CRN, Sizer said more investment in peer groups for Sherweb customers would be a great addition to the distributor’s services.
Slater spoke just days after Sherbrooke, Quebec-based Sherweb announced two additions to its product portfolio – QuickBooks Online and a Microsoft 365 backup powered by vendor Veeam.
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Payroll are available to American end users only, for now, according to Sherweb.
The new M365 backup-as-a-service (BaaS) offering “harnesses Veeam’s proficiency and capabilities in backup, recovery and data management to deliver a simple and complete way to preserve Microsoft 365 data—including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams—so that the data is always protected, accessible and restorable in case of disaster,” according to Sherweb.
Microsoft Program Changes
Concerning Microsoft, Slater said he and his team have been busy at work helping partner-customers understand what to do now that the tech giant has ended its classic Gold and Silver partner designations in favor of a new system determined by partner capability scores.
Slater said that Sherweb has the highest net partner seat adds (NPSA) score in the channel – one of the measures used to determine new Microsoft “solutions partners” designees.
“We can show you how” to get a new designation, Slater said. “We can help you get there. … It‘s not easy, but we’re here to help.”
Slater complimented some of the changes Microsoft has made to its channel partner program this year. For one, now all Microsoft services partners, indirect partners (including Sherweb and other distributors) and account managers are graded the same way.
“We’re all rowing in the same direction,” Slater said. “We’re all trying to drive each other’s success.”
The inability for service providers to change distributors once an annual customer contract has gone into effect – a policy rolled out as part of Microsoft’s New Commerce Experience (NCE) and a policy that multiple partners have decried as creating lock-in and customer dissatisfaction – also discourages distributors from constantly trying to steal partner-customers from each other, Slater said.
“Traditional distribution is a stealing game,” Slater said. “Everybody‘s trying to transfer from here to there back and forth. So with the NCE changes, it’s no longer possible to do that in most cases.”
Microsoft is also listening to partners’ concerns over all the changes, Slater said, pointing to a 16.7 percent “do more with less” discount Microsoft introduced, which runs until June 30.
“Microsoft‘s going to add some relief for NCE is a way you can look at it,” he said.
Slater said that he and his team have Microsoft’s ear, sharing some information about a recent conversation he had with Microsoft about the tech giant’s reception at partner-focused conferences.
“Microsoft was talking to me and they’re like, ‘What do people think of us at the shows?’ Slater said. “And what I always like to stress is, every show I go to, it‘s not about who has necessarily the best product. I mean, it’s important, but it‘s not the key feature. It’s really about the best partnership, ease of doing business. And that‘s something that Sherweb, from the top down the last year, we decided we want to be the best at. We want to be the best place for an MSP to do business with the least barriers of entry and the most results.”LEARN MORE: Distribution | Cloud Channel Programs | Cloud Platforms
Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at [email protected].
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