A blog series for U.S. partners by Jenni Flinders, Microsoft U.S. Vice President, Partner Strategy and Programs.
The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and the product refresh season is revving up!
I’m thrilled by the level of enthusiasm expressed by partners regarding the incredible Microsoft product refresh ahead for businesses and consumers. As all of our successes in the Microsoft Partner Network are intertwined, it’s so rewarding to know that you’re as excited about the potential in these new products for increased customer engagement, market penetration, and growth as we are.
But excitement only get us so far, right? It’s one thing to understand how great a product, technology, or solution is, and it’s quite another to help a customer understand the same thing, on their terms. As you prepare your business for upcoming launches of Windows 8 on October 26 and the next release of Office (currently available as a customer preview), plus start to incorporate newly released products like Windows Server 2012, Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Microsoft System Center 2012, and Visual Studio 2012 into your business, developing and implementing strong sales and marketing strategies will underpin your success.
Build Sales and Marketing Acumen
To help you more effectively talk with your customers about this wave of innovation’s features and benefits, we’ve assembled a marketing toolkit of product launch-related campaigns and materials that will help ensure your sales and marketing staff hits the ground sprinting! Microsoft Ready-to-Go Marketing should be integral part of your plan for capitalizing on the product refresh opportunity. Ready-to-Go Marketing is one of the resources listed in our online guide for overall product launch preparation and in our new Windows 8 online guide, too, in the “showcase your expertise, create demand” pillar.
In anticipation of many conversations about our newest products between you and your customers, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Ready-to-Go Marketing campaigns for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, SQL Server 2012, and a Sneak Peek at the New Office. Beyond these specific sales and marketing resources, the Ready-to-Go Marketing site is a treasure chest of resources that support your sales success. Explore the site with the Content Finder and you’ll find marketing content, campaign materials, event support, templates, digital marketing resources, plus marketing and lead generation services to help you have your best fiscal year ever.
Build Your Technical Skills to Support Your Sales and Marketing Efforts
While you are crafting your marketing and sales plans for your solutions built on the latest Microsoft products and technologies, be sure that your technical teams are taking advantage of new training opportunities and offers to get current on their Microsoft certifications.
- You can save up to 40% on exams by purchasing a Microsoft Competency Exam Pack, and get a free exam retake—a second shot—if needed (rules, instructions, and a link to eligible exams).
- You can save on Microsoft certification practice tests for a limited time, too.
- If obtaining or renewing a Microsoft competency is part of your plans, understand the changes to competencies—including exam requirements—that will take effect in November. Download and review the Competency Roadmap, and contact U.S. MPN Experts for a competency consultation.
To prepare for exams, consider these options for training and skill-building:
- Partner Exam Academy helps you prepare for the Microsoft certification exams needed to meet competency requirements. There are currently eight competencies covered, with more coming soon: Business Intelligence; Communications; CRM; Data Platform; Desktop (featuring the new Exam 70-681 requirement); Management and Virtualization; Messaging; and Portals and Collaboration.
- Microsoft Jump Start offerings from Microsoft Learning include Developing Windows 8 Apps, preparation for application development exams 70-480 and 70-481 on October 10-11; and Upgrading Skills to Windows 2012, preparation for exam 70-417, on October 23-24.
- Microsoft Learning Partners offer Microsoft Official Courses and provide a comprehensive selection of learning solutions for Microsoft products and technologies. Use the Class Locator to find training offered at a Microsoft Learning Partner location near you.
- Take advantage of no-cost and low-cost training offered as a benefit to Microsoft partners live in-person, live online, and on-demand, usually through the Partner Learning Center, using one or more of these resources:
- If you like to have a checklist to work from, use the Learning Plan Tool to create a plan from training packages for Windows 8, Microsoft SQL Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 (and other products, of course!). Follow these steps to create and distribute learning plans.
- If you like to see your virtual training options in one place, organized by role, use the Microsoft partner learning paths.
- If you like to plan ahead for live in-person and virtual training, follow the monthly U.S. Partner Hot Sheet posts. We’ve just published two “special editions,” for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.
- If you want to engage with your local Microsoft team, you will also find a 6-week outlook of local and live online training through the U.S. regional portal pages: East Region, Central Region, West Region.
- If you need to align your services offerings to current Microsoft technologies, use a Practice Accelerator to your advantage to scope and deploy Microsoft-based solutions that will meet your customers’ needs.
- Follow the U.S. Partner Learning team through their blog and on Twitter, and use their online training resource guide.
We want to do everything possible to help make talking with your customers about these products streamlined, effective, and profitable. Prepare yourself for successful customer engagements and walk in your customer's shoes, and your business will be able to sell with confidence and impact.
Follow me on Twitter @Jenni_Flinders and let me know what Ready-to-Go Marketing resources you plan to use to win this refresh season!