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The Microsoft Partner Network: Gold Competencies & Silver Competencies–Part 1: Branding

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The Microsoft Partner Network: Gold Competencies & Silver Competencies–Part 1: Branding

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On November 1st, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Partner Network, which brought with it many new things, including new competencies and associated branding, benefits, requirements, and more.  Since that time, I have spoken with, heard from, and seen postings from many partners talking about what they have achieved so far in the new Microsoft Partner Network as well as questions and even some misunderstandings about various parts of the new Microsoft Partner Network.  With this in mind, I thought I would put up some posts here on the blog to provide some information about various components of the Microsoft Partner Network for all to hopefully confirm and reinforce some things you already know, explain some things your might not be sure of, and answer some questions/misunderstandings you may have.  For this first post, I thought I would start with branding.

As stated in my “Microsoft Partner logo, branding, naming updates revealed at #WPC10” post during Worldwide Partner Conference, with the Microsoft Partner Network comes new branding, and a departure from the old branding.  Prior to November 1, 2010:

  • Partners could achieve different levels (Registered Member, Microsoft Certified Partner, Microsoft Gold Certified Partner) within the Microsoft Partner Network, based on accumulating points by accomplishing certain tasks, such as: gaining a competency, having certified professionals on staff, getting references associated with your account and much more.  Below are the Microsoft Certified and Gold Certified logos that were associated to these levels:

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  • These levels were applied to the company, so often partners would say, “We are a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner,” or “We are a Microsoft Certified Partner,” and the “Gold Certified” or “Certified” status was a descriptor they used of the company, based on the level the company achieved.

As of November 1, 2010 in the Microsoft Partner Network, there are no longer “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner”or “Microsoft Certified Partner” levels to achieve for companies.  Now in the Microsoft Partner Network, partners have the ability to achieve gold competencies and silver competencies which are named based on how customers buy.  This provides more opportunity for differentiation for partners, as well as even more opportunity for partners to highlight their specific skillsets and areas of strength.  In addition, this naming is more transparent to customers and identifies partners’ core capabilities and expertise. As an example, a partner with a business focus of Server Platform could attain either a Microsoft Gold Server Platform competency or a Microsoft Silver Server Platform competency and would earn the ability to use one of the following logos:

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Notice that the “silver” and “gold” designations are associated specifically to the competency, not the “Microsoft Partner” or a company name.  This is a very important distinction.  Why?

  • Partners that have skills across several areas and specialize in providing solutions across several areas can earn multiple competencies and can achieve either silver or gold for each.  For example, let’s say there is a partner who has achieved a gold competency in Server Platform and Content Management along with a silver competency in Volume Licensing and Business Intelligence.  Their logo, if they choose to include all of their competencies, could look like:

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  • Notice, they are not a “Gold Partner,” “Gold Certified Partner,” “Silver Partner", or “Silver Certified Partner.”  There are no such things as these in the Microsoft Partner Network.  There are Microsoft partners and they have silver competencies and gold competencies to showcase their skillsets.

As you can see from above, as of November 1, 2010:

  1. No longer do partners become Microsoft Certified or Microsoft Gold Certified Partners.  From November 1, 2010 on, partners become Microsoft partners with silver and/or gold competencies. 
  2. No longer are Gold or Certified umbrella terms applying to a company overall.  Instead, the new gold and silver terms are specific to competencies.
  3. Gold competency does not equate to the former Gold Certified membership.
  4. Silver competency does not equate to the former Certified membership.
  5. If you have a gold competency or a silver competency, it has nothing to do with your “designation” in another competency.
  6. Yes, you can mix & match.  You can earn a gold competency in one core business focus area and a silver competency in another. 
  7. Because gold and silver are now applied to competencies, be sure that if you are going to achieve a gold competency, that you do so in the area/areas that are associated to your key business skills/areas of focus.  You might want to check out what partner Jess Coburn has to say about aligning competencies to your business focus.
  • I want to specifically call this point out, especially with point #2 above, based on a comment I have heard from a partner recently.  I asked them why they were pursuing the gold competency they were since it seemed odd for their business and their response was, “We are just trying to become a gold partner so by getting this competency we can become a gold partner.”  To reiterate, there are no “gold partners” in the Microsoft Partner Network and achieving one gold competency has nothing to do with your designation in any of the other competencies.

I hope the information above helps provide a good overview of how the new competency branding applies to the Microsoft Partner Network.  In future posts, I will be adding some others around things like competency benefits and how to gain visibility through competencies.  Besides earning competencies in the Microsoft Partner Network, remember that there are other ways you can participate as well:

  • Join in the community.  Through social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our Microsoft Partner Network Community, partners can participate in topical conversations, learn about the latest technology trends, and ask questions directly to Microsoft employees. Any partner can participate in the community and join the conversation.
  • Purchase a subscription – Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions enable solution providers, developers, and web designers to access Microsoft cloud services, software, development tools, training, market visibility, and support—all at significant savings.
  • Become a Microsoft Small Business Specialist – Do you focus on serving the needs of small businesses?  The Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation provides you with benefits including: online customer referrals, training and software resources, sales and marketing guidance, online break-fix technical support, and a Small Business Specialist logo to help you differentiate your skills and demonstrate to your customers that you are committed to their success.
  • Engage in the cloud through Cloud Essentials and Cloud Accelerate

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Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and RSS and see “What I’m thinking
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
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  • Thanks for blogging on the portion of the new MPN that has been overadressed. What the recent partner was trying to do I'm sure is either obtain the additional partner benefits of a Gold competency or retain their reputation with their clients. Without our clients understanding the distinction Microsoft has chosen to make on this front when a partner is no longer Gold it can be bad for the partners image. We ran into the same dilemma but I'm happy to report that we are retaining Gold and had to work quite hard at it. With some guidance from our supporters within the MPN we are "Gold"en again. Thank you for that MPN. If you are struggling with these competencies reach out to your regional office, they are overwhelmingly willing to help.

  • I'm still to be convinced otherwise that clients focus on anything other than the "grading" i.e Gold/Silver and not on the specialization.  I totally understand the partner you highlights attitude and it is worrying that if we as partners are struggling to get it, how is it going to bode for clients?

    Paul

  • This is really brilliant ! thanks a ton for the info.

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