We all know that there are just too many resources and too much information available from Microsoft - endless streams of websites, online and classroom training, Microsoft employees... It can be a real challenge trying to find the correct, relevant information!
To try and solve this, Jessica Meats (a fellow Partner Technology Specialist), Hayley Rixon (a Solution Channel Development Manager) and myself have sifted through the masses of information and resources available to partners, and selected what we think is the most useful. We've also defined the roles of the various Microsoft employees small and mid-market partners are likely to contact, to try and give partners a better understanding of whom in Microsoft to engage for sales, marketing or technical advice.
Originally, the information was consolidated for new SharePoint partners, looking to find SharePoint training and gain their certification; however there's plenty of information on the list which would be useful for established SharePoint partners, and even other Microsoft partners who have nothing to do with SharePoint!
I encourage you to have a quick scan through the list below, and if you spot a resource you're not familiar with, use the information available to find out more about how you could utilise it to become even more successful!
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Microsoft Employee Resources
Solution Channel Development Managers
A Solution channel development manager (SCDM) focuses on working with partners to create and develop new practices or solution areas within their business as required to support the current Microsoft Growth areas. SCDM’s are focused on driving two key solution areas of Business Productivity and Core Infrastructure (BPIO and CoreIO). This includes working with both existing Microsoft partners looking to grow their business into new areas (such as Exchange Partners expanding into Security, or Sharepoint Partners moving into BI) and working with new partners (such as partners selling non Microsoft technologies who want to build a Microsoft practice).
SCDM’s co-ordinate and work very closely with the training, marketing and technical teams to help build partners’ capability as well as working with Sales and Account Management teams to ensure helping drive pipeline, close deals, grow the partner profile, helping achieving growth and share for both Microsoft and the partner.
Partner Technology Specialists
Partner Technology Specialists provide technical presales support for Microsoft partners. This support can range from email or telephone conversations, face-to-face meetings and technology demonstrations to actively working with partners to close deals. Partner Technology Specialists can provide assistance for partners adopting a new Microsoft technology, such as SharePoint, into their customer solution offering, through to partners who are already established in a particular technology area but require details on new product features or product integration information.
Speak to your Microsoft Account Manager about engaging Partner Technology Specialists.
Technical Sales Assistance (formally TPTS)
Technical Sales Assistance provides free telephone presales technical support for Certified and Gold partners as part of your Microsoft Partner Program benefits. The Technical Sales Assistance is available during normal working hours giving you direct phone access to a Microsoft Technical Presales Specialist. Technical Sales Assistance provides unlimited technical, business and competitive sales assistance.
The advice provided by the Technical Sales Assistance service can assist in accelerating your sales cycles and help you deliver the best solutions to your customer, first time.
Why should I use the Technical Sales Assistance?
· Direct access to Microsoft Technical Presales Specialists
· Receive technical support & information in competitive sales situations, including discussion guides and third party research materials, battle cards, and escalation to COMPHOT.
· Proof of concept information
· Understand product capabilities & features
· Access to configuration and compatibility guidance
· Technical licensing assistance
· TCO & ROI advice
To contact TSA, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0870 60 70 700 and select option 3.
The Partner Portal is accessible exclusively by Microsoft partners, and contains useful information about the Microsoft partner eco-system, Microsoft products, role and product specific training, sales and marketing advice, licensing information and available support. Access the Partner Portal here http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner
Demo Showcase is a collection of click-through sales demos and virtual machines that can be used to demonstrate the value of Microsoft solutions to your customers. Instead of focusing on products, these demos focus on business scenarios and show how Microsoft technology can be used to solve real problems. The Demo Showcase files can be found here: https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/salesmarketingsection/smsalesdemos
Microsoft Partner Network
The MPN is a business networking platform designed to facilitate UK partner to partner connection, knowledge and information exchange. Sign in with a Windows Live ID, complete your profile and start connecting. http://www.microsoftpartnernetwork.com/
Training and Specialisation Resources
Partner Learning Centre
The Partner Learning Centre is accessible through the Partner Portal, and provides access to hundreds of Microsoft training courses, including classroom training, web seminars and online tutorials. Search for training offerings specific to your competency/specialisation, technology, or professional development subject focus areas: https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/home.aspx
The Microsoft Learning Paths provide links to training resources relevant to gaining skills in a particular Microsoft technology. Use the Learning Paths to help you select the most appropriate and useful training from the hundreds of available training courses.
The SharePoint Learning Path for sales roles is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/learningpaths/?id=microsoftsharepointsales
The SharePoint Learning Path for technical roles is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/learningpaths/?id=microsoftsharepointsolutions
Upcoming SharePoint Training
Details of upcoming SharePoint training listed in the Partner Learning Centre can be found here: https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/search.aspx?ssid=EC4392E86BA448BC92F6219528C27491&IsPLCSS=1
In particular, there are two SharePoint demo sessions taking place at Microsoft Thames Valley Park, Reading office. For exact details, visit https://training.partner.microsoft.com/plc/details.aspx?systemid=263278&EventTypeID=2&page=/plc/search.aspx
For information on general training events for all Microsoft technologies, visit https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/trainingevents
Information Worker Competency
Gaining a Microsoft competency offers benefits such as additional software licences, the opportunity to display the competency logo, as well as access to resources like industry research, valuable marketing and sales materials and more. The Information Worker competency is the specific competency associated with SharePoint. According to a 2006 IDC study, partners with the Information Worker Solutions competency out-perform other non-competent knowledge worker partners on 12 of 14 key performance indicators. Specifically, this research found that compared to the Knowledge Worker Benchmark, IW competent partners have:
· Significantly shorter sales cycles and implementation times, benefiting from Microsoft's ability to connect them with high-yield prospects and Microsoft technical resources.
· Service capacity utilisation rates that exceed the benchmark by 10 percentage points. They keep their technical resources billable more of the time and therefore are able to do more with fewer resources.
· More productive relationships with their customers. Their number of deals per customer is over 1.5 times that of the benchmark.
· Revenue growth averaging 18 per cent, significantly higher than (more than double) the growth of the benchmark companies.
For more information on this competency, review the IW Competency page on the Partner Portal https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/program/competencies/40012658
Details of how to achieve this competency can also be found on the Partner Portal https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/program/competencies/40023114
Finance Incentives for your Customers
Microsoft Financing provides an affordable and predictable way to acquire the IT solution that your business needs to help cut costs and increase efficiencies. Microsoft Financing can be used to finance a complete range of technology needs, including software, services, partner products, and hardware. Our solution partners work with you to define your technology-related business needs and objectives, set up a payment structure that can work with your budget, and help you maintain important cash flow.
Microsoft Financing offers qualified customers immediate access to funds, so that you can purchase and deploy the IT solution that you need. There is no down payment required, and terms range from two to five years—making it easy to match your payments to realized IT benefits immediately.
Find more information about the different financing deals available on the Microsoft Financing website: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/financing/default.mspx
For more information on many of the benefits described above, as well as additional support available to Microsoft partners at Registered, Certified and Gold partner level, refer to the support overview available on the Partner Portal: https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/supportsecurity