Peter A. Jensen
I have been with Microsoft since 2002, but I have been with Dynamics even longer, starting out with a Dynamics NAV partner in 1992. I currently lead the Partner Programs team in the US Dynamics organization and look forward to keeping in touch with the US Dynamics Partner Community on this blog.
eXtremeCRM 2012 is right around the corner. Hopefully you’ve already made plans to join us September 30 – October 3, 2012 in Las Vegas for this marquee event. It is our #1 platform to share the latest Microsoft Dynamics CRM strategies and investments with our partners – you don’t want to miss it!
And, to make eXtremeCRM even more valuable, you can maximize both your time away from the office and your T&E budget by attending the eXtreme Training Academy. New this year, the eXtreme Training Academy offers training on several of the most popular Microsoft Dynamics CRM ISV products. Classes are offered prior to the event on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30, and pricing is separate from the regular eXtremeCRM conference fee.
At eXtreme Training Academy, you will:
All this, and you will save money as these trainings are being offered at a GREATLY discounted price to you!
Maximize your time – and get more bang for your buck – by attending eXtreme Training Academy. Review and register for the training courses, and register by August 31, 2012 to take advantage of early bird pricing on the Training Academy class fees.
Due to popular demand, the session recordings from the conference that was held in Houston, TX on March 22-24, 2012 are now available on the Partner Learning Center. These session recordings will help you prepare for the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail release.
Please note that the recordings are organized by track. You can find a summary of what was covered in each of the two tracks as well as the recordings links on PartnerSource.
Navigate to PartnerSource to review a wealth of information dedicated to the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics User Group Conferences being held October 15-19, 2012 in Seattle, WA.
These annual events – hosted by the independent user groups for Microsoft Dynamics AX (AXUG), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (CRMUG), Microsoft Dynamics GP (GPUG), and Microsoft Dynamics NAV (NAVUG) – empower users to connect, learn and share through peer-to-peer education and intimate networking opportunities.
On the page you’ll find information regarding the user group conferences, special pre-conference partner-only events, and pre-conference training opportunities.
Also, to aid you with customer demand generation of the events, the User Group team has created partner marketing tools such as email invitations, article templates, and event overview slides.
All of the complete details are found on PartnerSource.
Step 3 Level 300 Presales Workshop Core or Core and Industry
Microsoft Dynamics partner readiness is pleased to invite you to a workshop designed to equip presales consultants to successfully match the product capabilities to the prospect customer’s needs.
The workshop structure starts with a three-day Core workshop designed as the basis for all consultants to be able to apply and demonstrate the range of capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Consultants who specialize in one of our strategic industries are invited to stay another two days.
The Core workshop is designed to equip the presales consultant with:
The additional two days specifically designed for industry presales specialists are structured with 3 different session types:
Case Discussion: designed to get the class to share experiences, and ideas on how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can be applied to solve a given case scenario. These sessions are design to get the student to apply what has been presented to a problem statement.
For more information and to view the upcoming course schedule, please visit PartnerSource.
Finding and producing fresh and exciting marketing content can sometimes be a challenge. Especially, when you try to create content to fit into new marketing platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
As our US Microsoft Dynamics marketing team explains, Nurture Butterfly is an excellent application of the “Do more with less” mantra we use to sell our business solutions. This one simple tool allows you to quickly write, track and share valuable content across multiple social networks with ease. It automatically measures your results and offers functionality that can’t be beat by other dashboard tools. Best of all it’s a one-stop-shop for the latest and greatest Microsoft content, and the monthly investment will barely dent your marketing budget.
Butterfly Publisher is an essential social media tool for Microsoft Dynamics partners. According to a recent survey of partners using Butterfly Publisher, 70% of users increased their social media marketing in FY12 as a result of the tool.
Through September 15, 2012 partners can receive a free 30 day trial.
Visit PartnerSource for more information.
Join the FY13 Microsoft Dynamics Partner Community Interactive MicroSessions!
What is an IMS?
The Microsoft Dynamics Partner Community IMS is an interactive microsession dedicated to enabling partners to grow their business. Live sessions are hosted monthly for ERP, CRM, RMS, and new partners.
What can you expect in an IMS?
You will get the latest business insights, Microsoft news, offer updates, sales and marketing updates, readiness, tools and resources, Microsoft Partner Network updates along with the irreplaceable insights from your fellow partners. We dedicate about 30 to 45 minutes to an interactive presentation and dedicate the remaining 45 to 60 minutes to freeform Q&A and discussion driven by you the partner.
Interactive MicroSessions are built around three pillars:
How do I join an IMS?
Register for upcoming sessions by visiting the United States Microsoft Dynamics Partner Training & Events Calendar.
Visit PartnerSource to access the complete FY13 schedule of upcoming IMS events.
I’m excited to pass along this information from the WPC 2013 planning team.
WPC in Toronto was the best one yet! Pre-Register now for Houston and save big.
The contacts and connections you make at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) are endless. Don’t miss out on the next opportunity to build relationships that can help grow your business. This is the one event every year that Microsoft partners cannot miss. The 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is coming July 7 - 11, 2013 in Houston, Texas. With more than 16,000 attendees from 160 countries, there’s no better exposure for your business.
Pre-Register now for WPC 2013 and save $400 off of the regular price of an all-access pass.
The pre-purchase registration fee for an All Access WPC 2013 is:
$1595 US available July 17 – September 30, 2012 (Offer extended until October 14, 2012)
This is a $400 savings off of the regular price of an all-access pass ($1,995US)
Visit Digital WPC for additional pre-registration information.
The Microsoft Dynamics Service Engineering Customer and Partner Experience team will be using the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Service blog as a way to communicate with customers and partners about what’s going on in the live service. Initially, the blog will be used as a means to help deflect customer service calls until there is a global service health dashboard available by posting service interruption communications and post incident reviews. The team will also be looking to post information about service enhancements to help present a balanced view of the online service.
Access and start reading the blog today!
WPC 2012 was a huge event for Microsoft with over 16,000 attendees, and roughly 20% of attendees represented Microsoft Dynamics in their solution mix.
If you were unable to attend in July or would like a refresher on the many Microsoft Dynamics activities and sessions held during the conference, we’ve recently posted a variety of materials on PartnerSource. You’ll find videos and PowerPoint presentations associated with the Vision Keynote, Value Keynote and several breakout sessions.
The following post is a reprint used by permission from The Partner Channel summer 2012 magazine.
SBS Group Atlanta, previously Enterprise Solutions Consultants, is an affiliate of SBS Group within the Microsoft Dynamics Master VAR program. Enterprise Solutions Consultants dates back to 1987 as a small to mid-sized VAR with roots in Great Plains Software, now Microsoft Dynamics GP. The firm became an affiliate in August 2011, just shortly before the Master VAR program’s formal launch.
The Partner Channel (TPC): You’ve owned and operated a VAR business since 1987. What made you decide to become affiliated with a larger Partner?
Bob O’Brien (BO): I tried an outright purchase plan once before with Tribridge. In 2008 we became a separate office for them, but after a year we decided to go our separate ways. Thankfully, all my customers went in with me, and all came back out. That’s a pretty good degree of loyalty.
A couple of years passed and then I started talking with SBS Group about the Master VAR program, before it was announced, and it gave me insight into what I think is a good evolution for certain types of Partners. Older Partners need a place to be acquired or to get some sort of transition plan in place.
Since my customers went through this with me once before, I wanted to make sure that they’d have a really good experience with the transition to SBS Group. I didn’t offer infrastructure, SharePoint, or Office installs, but now I have all that in one spot for my customers. They not only have absolute access to me, but also access to a much larger group of people and products who can take them beyond Microsoft Dynamics GP if need be.
I was really impressed with how SBS presented themselves to me, and almost a year in, I like that I’m still my own boss and maintain my own priorities, which is a pretty important thing.
TPC: Was it difficult for you to give up your company’s brand and take on the SBS Group name?
BO: Whenever you make a change, your customers get a bit nervous. When we rolled it out, we told them that they were getting a larger umbrella of services and resources. SBS Group does a pretty good job of getting the brand name out there and approaching customers and settling any nervousness. Their visibility and reputation are good enough that there was no downside.
From a VAR logistics perspective, Microsoft wants more standardized paperwork and more firm paper contractual relationships with customers, so we did have to go back to make sure that was in place. It wasn’t a shock to the customers, but it did make them think about our relationship and their business needs.
TPC: How many affiliates does SBS Group have now?
BO: It’s in the 20s. I’m on the monthly operations call, and they make an announcement almost every month about new Partner affiliates. We weren’t the first; there was an acquisition like me before mine.
TPC: How tight is the working relationship with them?
BO: They have a pattern of activity, from working with a marketing process for potential new customers to an annual customer meeting and monthly webinars. It was very easy for us to slip our customer group into that.
The two principals of SBS Group, Jim Bowman and Joe Longo, took the lead on the transition from ESC to SBS Group Atlanta, and it was extremely smooth. I made the argument before we started that I didn’t think they would be able to keep my overhead as low as it was, and they proved me wrong. Our actual cost for being in the Partner network is next to nothing, and now we’re able to distribute some VAR costs over more Partners and so, for instance, I get a full-time marketing person when I need him/her.
TPC: Is there one group of people at SBS Group that supports all the affiliates?
BO: Yes. I wondered how the principles could do it – only so many hours in a day, right? But they handle it well.
TPC: What are the characteristics of Partner organizations that would work well as affiliates in the Master VAR program?
BO: I would say they are practices that represent only one or two ERPs and have been in business for a while. They also would have a proven track record with an existing customer base by now. As SBS Group gains affiliates, they’re doing what they can to make sure there’s an amount of fairness regarding geographic territory. They’re looking to fill in around the country and have a good representation of the ERP packages and vertical solutions.
That’s another thing – as an affiliate we have access to all that vertical expertise now.
TPC: Has there been a downside to the change?
BO: The ramp time was short, and because the idea was new, it might have been a little smoother from org to org, but the org to customer experience was great. Because we came on early in the program, I probably experienced that more than affiliates that come on now. When they use me as a reference, I share that with incoming Partners. I think I was part of the great experiment in the early days, and there was responsibility on my side to make sure I paid closer attention as the system was working itself out.
I wouldn’t call it a downside at all, but really more of a healthy growing pain.
Overall this has been a great experience. There’s no negative pressure on me to do things by a certain date; instead it’s them asking how they can help me build my business. They have provided me with goals, but they’re aligned with where we want to go as a business and not just their plan.
Some Partners might look at some of the logistical things like master service agreements and liability insurance requirements and think they’re not necessary, but they need to recognize that while there may be more rigid business rules applied in a Master VAR affiliation, they’re all good ones and in place for the appropriate business reasons.
TPC: What advice would you offer to a Partner considering affiliate status?
BO: It gives you instant access to expertise. In a local contest against a large regional or local VAR, if they have 25 people in their organization, for instance, and you only have five, you can now say that you’re part of a 200-person organization and you’re national, able to support them wherever they are.
This model works. Ninety-nine percent of it is local and how you want to do your business, and the relationship is much more harmonious than an organization that’s just out to acquire Partners. It’s a good structure, certified by Microsoft, and we can make our own decisions. This opportunity is a long time coming in the marketplace, and I applaud Microsoft for endorsing it and setting up the structure to make it successful from the get go.
As the products evolve, the channel evolves. This is a good way for small to medium-sized shops to become something bigger than they are without any sort of investment outside of changing their letterhead.
If I was 25 years old and just starting out, I may not feel the same, but seeing all the changes over the years, I think this is the way it’s going. It’s a good way to continue on in this business.
This VAR Profile is part of the summer 2012 issue of The Partner Channel Magazine. Download the full magazine for FREE at http://thepartnerchannel.com/magazine.