Microsoft is considering reintroducing a generalised sales training and certification scheme for VARs to give them extra skills and increased credibility, and thus acquire more business.
Microsoft has pledged to boost sales support amid concern that the economic downturn has made the sales process more complicated and decreased customers' willingness to invest in new technology.
Mark Buckley, partner readiness manager at the software giant, said the Microsoft Sales Specialist training programme, which last ran three years ago, may be reintroduced.
"Resellers wanted sales courses and to be certified, but we didn't carry it on. Now we want to consult with partners to find the best way to give them the information they need," Buckley said.
However, he admitted that encouraging sales people to take time out for training courses was a challenge. Microsoft is considering a number of options, including a drive-time tape or CD to educate sales people while on the move.
Gordon Davies, commercial director at reseller Compusys, welcomed the move, but said it was long overdue. "For some time the channel has been disappointed by the lack of focus. When the sales training fizzled out it was interpreted as a lack of commitment," he said.
"But now we have seen a sea change. Linux is continuing to gain market share and this is a direct response to that threat."
Mike Lawrence, managing director of Microsoft reseller Bent Penny, said the vendor's sales support focus was being driven by a backlash against Microsoft among customers.
"If you are standing in front of a customer with a problem, he doesn't care if you solve it with a Microsoft product or a bent hair pin and a farthing, as long as it works," he said. "Users are taking control."
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