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A Blog Series for Microsoft Dynamics Partners by Kati Hvidtfeldt, US Microsoft Dynamics ERP Cloud Lead.

Kati color 2004Conventional business wisdom preaches differentiation. A solid strategy to move ahead of the pack in the ERP cloud-based solutions business is to become the go-to provider in a specific vertical or segment. This can be accomplished through strategic partnering, as discussed in earlier Kati Unplugged posts, or by developing services and add-ons based on deep industry knowledge. In this week’s blog Microsoft Dynamics Partner Technology Advisor Dan Youngers explains why customers choose companies that offer vertical solutions—and why going vertical can help Microsoft Dynamics ERP partners compete in the cloud.

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Microsoft Dynamics partners are often on the receiving end of a common mantra: Go vertical. From our 30,000-foot view of Microsoft Dynamics ERP partners, we’ve noticed that those whose numbers are consistently strongest are those who are meeting the needs of vertical markets. And a closer look shows us that many of those companies are more profitable, too. Offering cloud-based solutions can help partners stay ahead of the competitive curve, but adding an industry focus can really help partners move ahead.

Here are five reasons why going vertical can help your business deliver the best value and customer experience—along with higher win rates and profit margins.

1. Referrals: Most software purchase decisions are heavily influenced by referrals. By focusing on a specific vertical your business can build its expertise and shine as a leading industry solutions provider.

2. Trust: Solution providers that demonstrate industry knowledge through spot-on vertical solutions and educated sales discussions show that they know exactly what prospects need, reducing buyer fear, uncertainty and doubt.

3. Lead qualification: Understanding a specific industry gives businesses insights into the prospect landscape. By getting to know the reputations of your prospects, including their financial solvency, you’ll be in a better position to prioritize leads based on which businesses are “players” and which ones may not be able to afford your solution.

4. Efficiency: A typical customer doesn’t want to spend time educating sales and support people on the universal needs of the industry. Focusing on a specific industry lets your business offer the best value for your customers—and best margins for your business—by reducing your sales and marketing investments in messaging, demo development and collateral, and by developing a support staff knowledgeable in the common industry ISVs and configurations.

5. Loyalty: Industry expertise equals a better customer experience through faster implementations and added value, like industry-specific reports and role-tailored dashboards. And that leads to long-term relationships.

Going vertical is really a process of reinventing your business—a daunting proposition. But the payoff is increased wins, shortened sales cycles and better profits. What business can walk away from that?

To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics Countdown to the Cloud page on PartnerSource. Go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics/growyourbusiness for resources that demonstrate to customers how Microsoft Dynamics ERP cloud, hybrid and on-premise solutions can benefit their businesses.