SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

HOT AZURE TRAINING ONLINE!

(From our friends at SQLSoft3 - Editor)

Several folks who are interested in Azure training have asked us when we will have our next Azure class scheduled.

 We have a live instructor-led Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (20533) class which will run on August 22.

This course teaches information technology (IT) Professionals how to provision and manage services in Microsoft Azure (Azure). Students will learn how to implement infrastructure components such as virtual networks, virtual machines, web and mobile apps, and storage in Azure. Students also will learn how to plan for and manage Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), and configure Azure AD integration with the on-premises Active Directory domains.
 SQLSoft Azure

 


Learn more and sign-up for the online Azure training here.

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Annual Picnic!

 It’s that time of year again – the annual picnic for SMB Nation peeps.

This year is our 16th annual summer picnic (and if only the walls could talk – the stories we’ve accumulated over the years). It’s all about enjoying a lazy afternoon on the south-end of Bainbridge Island. We’ll yak about tech picnic 2013 groupand business – just as usual. And because we’re not getting any younger, it’s an picnic 2013 groupexcuse to see each other again. And with our editorial themes this year of start-up and/or start over, this is your chance to network with like-minded professionals.

The facts are simple. Each year SMB Nation teams with the West Sound Technology Association (WSTA) and the Puget Sound Small Business Server (PSSBS) user group for a picnic. Each year about 50-people attend, many making the trek from Seattle via ferry (Hint: Leave office after lunch and in ferry line for 3pm ferry advised).

  • Date: August 18, 2016
  • Time: 4PM – 8PM
  • Location: Harry’s House on Bainbridge Island!

You can learn more and sign-up here: http://www.westsoundtechnology.org/events/aug-18-summer-event . The WSTA will provide the food and we’ll provide light drinks such as beer and wine (but bring your favorite beverage nonetheless LOL).

 

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Learn how to > Master Your Archive Migration and Move to Microsoft Office 365

What: A Microsoft Office 365 Migration Best Practice Breakfast Seminar
When: Weds 31st August, 08:30 to 11:00
Where: Microsoft Office, Johannesburg

If you’re thinking about a move to Microsoft Office 365, and want to ensure the fastest and most efficient migration – then this best practice seminar is for you. Event Header 220 x 150 for SMB

Hear from Microsoft about the key benefits of moving to the Cloud, as they are joined by TransVault, the leader in archive migration solutions and Soarsoft, a migration services expert, for a morning event at Microsoft South Africa.

Enjoy a complimentary breakfast while the gurus take you through the ways you can prepare for the challenges of moving enterprise email and data into Microsoft’s Cloud.

Aimed at messaging professionals, by attending this event you will learn:
• How to securely and accurately move legacy email records into Office 365 for a one-stop-shop regulatory experience
• Get an introduction: To the Cloud. From the Cloud. Leverage Microsoft Azure for a completely 'in Cloud' migration
• See how others have made their move and embraced the Microsoft Cloud

 

REGISTER TODAY – LIMITED SEATING >

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BUY & SELL COMPUTERS, IT & TELECOM PARTS & EQUIPMENT WITH POWERSOURCE ONLINE

Are you looking to buy or sell new, used or refurbished IT and telecom parts and equipment including computers, laptops, printers, VoIP phones, central office systems, PBX/Key systems or network infrastructure? Whether you are a supplier, reseller, service provider, corporate buyer or PSO20151209 banner 220X150self-maintainer, you can benefit from the PowerSource professional community. PowerSource Online helps our members increase sales, build industry relationships and save time and resources with our best-in-class selling and sourcing tools.

Computer parts suppliers and resellers gain a competitive advantage by easily posting their in-stock inventory of new, used and refurbished IT and telecoms parts to reach thousands of buyers. PowerSource members can view and respond directly to buying requests for computers, telecom equipment, IT infrastructure and more.

Corporate buyers have the ability to search over 3,000,000 lines of inventory in real-time from hundreds of the most reputable suppliers in the secondary market industry. Our members are able to get the best possible prices on inventory items by sending multiple Requests for Quotes, and receiving answers quickly. In addition to being able to search for up to 100 parts at one time, buyers can also customize their search criteria to include only preferred vendors and trading regions for more efficient sourcing.

By using PowerSource Online, IT, computer and telecom buyers and sellers have access to unparalleled opportunities to expand their customer base and increase their average margins. Since 1997, PowerSource has helped thousands of computer parts and telecom equipment buyers and sellers efficiently source or dispose of all types of computer parts and equipment, generating substantial cost savings for buyers and improving sales for sellers and service providers.

Take the time to experience PowerSource Online by enjoying a free triall. This way, you can experience for yourself how our B2B exchange helps businesses connect with thousands of buyers and sellers of computer, printer, networking and telecom equipment.

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Expectations of Higher Partner Program Levels

By Pete Engler

Participating in a partner program with a technology vendor opens the door to an important relationship that can be mutually beneficial, particularly when the program is geared for maximum loyalty and sales potential. Most channel programs offer different partner levels to best match a reseller’s interest and capability. Going for the gold, or that highest partner level offered, may seem like the best answer, but it’s important to fully understand both the expectations and the benefits of the higher partner level before making a commitment.

When considering a vendor’s strength as a strategic partner for your business, you want to evaluate several Partner Programfactors, such as their product and technical support reputation; whether the company provides sales and marketing support; financial incentives for selling products and services; and having a thorough and supported distribution channel. Once you have decided to partner with a vendor the relationship is dependent on your commitment level within their partner program. Lower levels typically provide fewer incentives and discounts than higher levels. Deciding to move up to a higher partner level may mean access to more benefits and vendor support, but it also requires that you make a significantly higher monthly or yearly sales commitment.

What can you expect from a higher partner program level? The answer isn’t always the same with every vendor but there are some benefits that are common with most channel programs. The first and possibly the most coveted is more margin. Vendors typically give their higher program level partners more discount due to the higher volume of products sold. Accessing more discount certainly has a positive effect on your profit and competitiveness against other vendors. In turn, that extra margin may also help you continue performing at an increased level of sales which is required to remain at the higher partner level.

Top-tier partners are usually further assisted in the sales process via access to dedicated sales support from the vendor. Top partners routinely will be assisted by an account manager or sales team with sales calls, demos or other sales related support. Leads can also be provided and are typically funneled to top producing partners. Vendor leads are often qualified prior to being distributed, which may translate into a shorter sales cycle for the partner to win the deal.

A vendor’s marketing support is another critical component of partner support. Top-tier programs typically offer dedicated marketing or co-marketing activities in their higher partner levels. Marketing development funds (MDF) may also be available for partners to offset customer acquisition costs. MDF funds may be used toward participation in activities such as trade shows, communications campaigns (email or snail mail), in-person events (lunch and learns, road shows), and many other end-user marketing activities.

Premier technical support is another vendor asset that is often reserved for the highest tier partners. While support exists for all paying customers, if a top producing partner needs an issue worked immediately, vendors can provide these top partners with immediate help. It likely goes without saying that escalated support access is a distinct advantage for the partner if they can resolve their customers’ issues quickly.

For any vendor, feedback from the customer base is essential to maintaining a quality product and service. Partner advisory boards are filled with the top producing partners who provide market and customer insight that is extremely valuable. These partners are often the first to hear about products being developed and the first to be able to test before the products go to market. Advisory council participation allows a partner to shape the product direction in the best way to maximize sales and market leadership.

When reselling products and services, it is always important to choose your vendor carefully. The perks that companies provide top producing partners are invaluable to giving an edge in the marketplace. Using one vendor for each technology solution offered to customers may help in bringing the sales up to a level that will earn a place in the top tiers of vendor partner programs. This loyalty and increased sales volumes will help against competitors in the marketplace and help make closing sales easier.


Pete Engler is the channel marketing manager at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.

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