US Partner Success Attribute #2: Having a Differentiated Value Proposition

My colleague Lani Phillips, US One Commercial Partner Channel Sales, recently shared her thoughts on how being Customer Obsessed is an important attribute of successful Microsoft partners. Today I’m delighted to write about another attribute we see in our top US partners which is having a Differentiated Value Proposition. I had a chance to introduce this attribute during the US Area General Session at Microsoft Inspire earlier this year and I think it’s worth reiterating here as we continue to see our top performing partners differentiate themselves, and their offers, in the marketplace.

As many of you heard during Satya Nadella’s Corenote and throughout Microsoft Inspire, there are 17 million technology partners worldwide. In this broad, competitive landscape, the companies that succeed are the ones that prioritize on something very specific and execute that “thing” with consistency and excellence all of the time.  They know what they do best better than anyone else on the planet.

Here are three core elements of having a differentiated value proposition for your company or organization that my colleagues and I have observed.

Develop deep expertise

Having deep expertise is a must to compete against other partners in the ecosystem. Your expertise can focus on a lot of things, including Industry. And if you have Industry expertise, identify it, focus on it, invest in, and take it to market with precision.  Two partners who are excellent examples of industry-focused differentiation include Axioma and Health Catalyst. Axioma delivers custom solutions in the financial services industry, helping institutions use massive data sets to make investment management and risk management decisions. Health Catalyst is leveraging technology for good, scaling vast amounts of global data focused on population health. Health Catalyst’s solution provides data used in clinical trials, or to understand where investments need to be made to provide healthcare to specific populations, among other scenarios. These two examples highlight differentiation based on specific industries/verticals, and very precise use cases with equally unique user communities.

Deeply understand your customer

Another way to differentiate is to really understand your target audience or customer. This means considering who your customer is and where the market conditions are taking them (and you). Explore where you can drive a differentiated experience for your customer now and in the future. A great example of deep customer understanding is Rackspace, a company Gavriella Schuster mentioned during her Corenote session at Microsoft Inspire. Rackspace is fanatical about customer experience and success. They do whatever it takes to make sure that customers that get on their platform stay on their platform, and they’re meticulous about it. Rackspace continues to evolve, making sure they’re meeting or ahead of their customer’s needs by offering services like their public cloud, or hybrid Microsoft cloud environments.

Be able to explain your value proposition

Finally, one of the most important aspects of having a Differentiated Value Proposition is being able to explain it succinctly. Your value proposition should pop on your website and be on every one-pager or other piece of marketing collateral your company produces. Ideally, you should be able to articulate your company’s unique value proposition in one or two sentences. Even more importantly, when people outside your company are asked what you do, they can articulate your differentiation in one or two sentences.

Watch to hear our partners’ perspectives on having a differentiated value proposition:


I hope this post has been helpful. We have multiple resources on the Microsoft Partner Network website to help you tell your unique story and develop a Differentiated Value Proposition. Next up, Casey McGee, Vice President Partner Development, US One Commercial Partner, will share his perspective on why being in Alignment with Microsoft is the third attribute of a successful partner.

Note: This is the third in a series of posts focused on the five attributes of a successful partner introduced during the US General Session at Microsoft Inspire.

Other posts you may like

The five attributes of successful Microsoft partners

US Partner Success Attribute #1: Why being customer obsessed is critical to shared success

US Partner Success Attribute #3: Alignment with Microsoft

US Partner Success Attribute #4: Leverage the Ecosystem

US Partner Success Attribute #5: Culture Alignment

Key partner updates at Microsoft Inspire: Corenotes, top sessions, and more

David Totten is a leader in the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization. The One Commercial Partner group manages field and partner integration and execution across specific disciplines, including technical capacity creation, practice development, partner profitability and experiences, and go to market investment areas. He has only recently moved to 100% partner focus, leaving his leadership role as the Americas Capability Lead helping to build digital transformation, industry, and technical sales skills for a workforce of over 5,000 individuals and managers.

 Previously, David was accountable for the United States’ go to market strategy for Office 365 across 18,000 accounts and 3,000 partners, blending all industries and verticals. He oversaw the Cloud Productivity value proposition, field and partner readiness, deployment programs, competitive intelligence, product evangelism and the customer experience across the entire Office 365 portfolio of solutions. 

 David joined Microsoft in 2004 as a product manager within the Server and Tools Product Group.

Prior to working at Microsoft, David was a Manager at Accenture and Computer Associates, before starting his own Employee Productivity Consulting Practice. He graduated with Honors with a double major of Management Information Sciences and Decision Sciences from Washington State University and holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.