I must say, if there’s one company I had to partner with, I think it would be Microsoft (with IBM not far behind). MSFT supports its partners so much it’s simply amazing.
Microsoft writes – Today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2005, Microsoft Corp. unveiled its Small Business Specialist Community, a unique offering to provide unparalleled business opportunities to partners that specialize in delivering innovative solutions and services to the small-business segment. The Small Business Specialist Community, available as a competency-like designation as part of the Microsoft Partner Program, was developed in response to input from customers and partners that expressed a need to build easier connections that enable small-business customers to quickly and easily identify technology partners best suited to support them. Microsoft spent significant time closely collaborating with its vast partner community and is currently running trials in Italy and Denmark to ensure the new offering meets that need while offering immediate value to partners. To enroll, partners can go here.
“Microsoft is committed to helping small businesses around the world be more efficient and better serve their customers through the use of technology,” said Steve Guggenheimer, vice president of small business for the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group at Microsoft. “Microsoft offers solutions that have been custom-made for small businesses, like WindowsÆ Small Business Server 2003. Now we’re taking another step, this time with our partners, to help better serve this important customer segment. With resources like the partner locator tool in the Microsoft Small Business Center site and the Small Business Specialist Community announced today, we’ll make it much easier for the 41 million small businesses around the world to identify those partners in Microsoft’s network that are best able to address their specific needs. We are confident this offering will help our valued industry partners reach their full potential by creating more visibility, opportunity and demand in the small-business segment.”
Partners such as Torben H¯iberg, director of FLC Danmark ApS, who took part in the initial pilot programs would agree with Guggenheimer about the opportunity that exists. “We were excited to participate in Microsoft’s Small Business Specialist Community pilot. We’ve been working with small-business customers for a long time, and we’re always looking for opportunities to expand our presence,” said H¯iberg. “This special designation has proved instrumental in helping us get broader recognition among customers as small-business experts, and has expanded our customer base. As a result of the Small Business Specialist designation, we have seen an increase of 191 percent in revenue.”
Qualifying as a Small Business Specialist will entitle partners to targeted resources and benefits from the Microsoft Partner Program including access to training specifically designed for the small-business industry, small-business marketing materials for reuse, special partner offers, and the ability to use the Small Business Specialist logo in marketing materials.
For example, Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) will offer a special Show and Sell Kit, with a value of $2,000 (U.S.), that allows qualified Small Business Specialists to experience firsthand all features, functions and benefits of CA’s new Business Protection Suites designed for Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003.
The Small Business Specialist Community will add value to the full spectrum of partners that service the small-business segment including the following:
Registered Members. The new offering is optimized for Registered Members that have demonstrated their expertise and are looking for Microsoft to recognize their skills and unique business models tailored specifically for small-business customers. It also establishes a logo partners can leverage and unique marketing benefits.
Certified and Gold Certified Partners. For Certified and Gold Certified Microsoft partners that already serve small businesses, this designation will help further differentiate their solution specialty to the small-business market.
System Builders. Being designated a small business specialist will offer system builders the opportunity to highlight their expertise in building PC and server systems that are based on Microsoft technologies in order to deliver products and services that are customized for the small-business segment. Registered system builders that join the Small Business Specialist Community will be provided with a clear road map for moving up to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Hardware Solutions Competency with a System Builder specialization at the Certified or Gold Certified levels as their hardware sales grow.
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