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The following Blog was written by Management Consultant and author Ken Thoreson

Partnering up with other organizations can only help you provide a better level of service to current and potential customers.

At Acumen Management, we've found that today's most successful salespeople tend to excel in six critical areas of sales management:

  1. Understanding their clients' business needs
  2. Maintaining selectivity and effective account segmentation and penetration
  3. Developing solid strategies for handling their key accounts
  4. Improving how salespeople manage their time, their accounts and their territories
  5. Using all available resources as effectively as possible
  6. Constantly strengthening their efforts to win market share

If your company isn't hitting home runs in all those areas, you may want to consider establishing your own partnership program to help improve your performance.

When I was working at a partner organization the president told me that if I was success in building partnership program: it would bring me the equilviant of one salesperson’s quota /year without having to hire more resources”


Working with partners can provide you with the additional knowledge that you may need, for instance, to better understand a particular client's needs or more readily identify prospective accounts. Your partners may be able to introduce you to important contacts, purchasing patterns and corporate strategies or access to decision makers. Their sales and technical teams may be able to help yours make joint presentations and proposals, better serve mutual territories and accounts or create true business solutions for customers. Ultimately, joining forces can help both parties improve their market positioning and achieve higher sales goals.

You can choose among several types of partnerships. While space limitations prevent us from exploring them in depth here, some of your options are:

Business partnerships designed to increase asset bases, expand the numbers and types of products or services offered and improve competitive advantage for both parties (possibly involving a formal merger or acquisition).

Business ecosystem partnerships that let non-competing parties sell related products and services in certain shared markets. This is the key kind of partner each organization should develop 3 to 5 business ecosystem partners. If executed properly, this relationship can bring you the equivalent of one salesperson’s quota per year.

Market alliance partnerships that allow two companies to share leads, establish salesperson-to-salesperson relationships and pay each other for referrals.

Strategic alliance partnerships with vendors that can provide your business with leads and support.

Alliance/consulting relationships in which companies exchange mutually beneficial services, such as serving on each other's advisory boards.

Before opening talks with any business ecosystem potential partners, it's smart to seek answers to a few important questions:

  • How many users does the other company have in your market? Knowing this number will help you gauge how well the other party knows your customer base.
  • What domain knowledge does the other party offer that your team lacks? What additional value or expertise or benefits does that company bring to your solutions?
  • How well do you understand your potential partner's culture and value proposition? Is it in alignment with yours?
  • Why does this company want to partner with you? What can you offer the other party?

Finally, remember that business ecosystem partnerships take time to develop. Successful ones involve:

  • Trust, which evolves from commitment, communication, strong performance and, most important, both parties consistently following through on their promises.
  • Innovation, which stems from the new opportunities that the relationship opens up for each organization.
  • A solid, mutually acceptable set of metrics, which can measure how well each company is meeting the other's expectations and how well they're both doing at progressing toward their shared goals.

Need to learn more about increasing leverage? If you are currently a Microsoft SMB partner or wish to become a partner, you NEED to know about Microsoft Community Connections (MCC, it is designed to help leverage relationships

MCC is designed exclusively for Small and Midsize Business partners to enable them to leverage Microsoft’s resources and relationships to generate more leads and increase your sales pipeline.

You are invited to two special events to learn how to unlock the value of Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) and learn about a new Playbook designed to show you how to increase sales through leverage.  In these exciting sessions find out how other partners are creating leverage in their community and increasing sales without investing marketing dollars or hiring salespeople.  We will discuss the secret sauce and 5 steps you can take now to change your business. Download a Playbook to learn more, Denis Wilson of DWP Information Architects who says: “The MCC Playbook is superb and the best training document I have seen of its kind.”

To Register goHere

 

Webinar 1 of 2:          Tuesday, December 16th

Eastern 9am (EST)

Midwest 10am (CST)

West 9:30am (PST)

 

Webinar 2 of 2:          Tuesday, December 16th

Eastern 9am (EST)

Midwest 10am (CST)

West 9:30am (PST)

MCC helps partners engage with their local communities through their local influencers such as the Chamber of commerce, CPA organizations, Small Business Associations, legal, and many other 501C3 and 501C6 associations.

Partners who engage with MCC are growing 15% faster than Partners who don’t! So take advantage and engage NOW! For a preview of the Playbook, go HERE

To Register for Webinar(s) go HERE

About the Author

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.        

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

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IBM Verse to Transform Enterprise Email

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ibm logoIBM today launched its new social collaboration offering, IBM Verse, which brings together myriad IBM platforms, innovations and ideas to integrate the ways employees connect daily.

IBM Verse brings together email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates and video chats and is the first messaging system to enable users to pinpoint and retrieve specific information across various types of email content.

It has built-in analytics and learns employee preferences and priorities over time. IBM Verse clients will also have the future opportunity to embed a Watson feature, a predictive and visual analytics tool.

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attAT&T and Cisco are working to make conferencing accessible for business users through AT&T Conferencing with Cisco CMR Cloud, expected to be available in December 2014.

This offering will allow customers to activate conferences with voice, video and content sharing on most connected devices, simplifying business conferencing. The solution can be used in-office or on-the-go, eliminating the need for expensive, fixed equipment.

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O365 Tour Registration is Open!

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220x150 ads-3We're hitting the road in 2015 and bringing the show to you! From popular demand and many request we are focusing this year’s tour on Office 365.

The Office 365 Tour has so many reasons to attend: The content, the relationships, and the fact there is no travel required.

Join us for this one day educational event which offers over 6-hours of pure Office 365 content, plus the ability to join the new network of Office 365 user groups. Benefit from peer sharing and professional networking. Leave with technical and strategic business knowledge you can apply immediately to Office 365 matters.

Below, you can see some of the sessions so you can get an even better idea of what we have planned. Of course, the awesome sessions are reason enough to attend but don’t forget about the hallway networking, exhibit hall, and incredible speakers and more all add to the experience.

Sessions:

Have you registered?   If not … seriously, don't wait any longer.  

Want to learn more? Please contact us at 206.201.2943 ext 105

 

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World Launch: LinkedIn Cocktail Mixer Party

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linkedin party2 editedI have always thought that LinkedIn should hold events to connect the people within a community. Wouldn’t you like to meet some of the people you are intertwined with and discover good business? Of course you would.

Last night, LinkedIn held its first-ever event at a hip-and-cool art gallery in the Downtown Seattle area, inviting approximately 200 professionals (pictured right). I was impressed. High-end appetizers, top-shelf open bar, profile “makeover consulting” at kiosks on the floor, and professional glamour headshots (with make-up professionally applied). It was a win. I believe the company’s intent is to hold similar events in other cities.

linkedin party 3I listened intently to the panel presentation, which was about 30-mins of the nearly 3-hour reception. Two experts joined two LinkedIn employees. The takeaway of this session? The morning after, you should have a meeting with someone you met the previous day, send a LinkedIn request, and make it a “thank you for meeting with me” message. During the Q&A portion, I was able to ask the LinkedIn employees about creating a certification title, as well as a partner program. The reason behind my question is a rise in the trend of people wanting to be LinkedIn consultants to small businesses.

linkedin party 4 edited

Other conversations I had with attendees included job hunting (LinkedIn is still a vehicle for finding work opportunities), event photography and relationships (one attendees noticed that there were more women than men and made an off-handed remark about match.com). I also spoke with an attendee about how great it was that Seattle was selected for the global kick-off. I get that. I grew up in a small town and, no such events occurred there.

So keep your eyes open for future LinkedIn events in your area. They are highly recommended and I will definitely be attending the next one in the Seattle area.

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voxox2Voxox, a cloud-based rich communication semrvice, announced it ranked 224th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, which ranks the fastest growing technology, media, telecomunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America.

”We are honored to be recognized as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 companies and credit our success to the tireless efforts of our dedicated Voxox team,” said Bryan Hertz, co-founder and CEO of Voxox. “Voxox’s mission has always been to provide true unified communications for consumers and businesses, and we are proud to be recognized by such a prestigious organization for our hard work and growth over the past few years.”

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Dave-WaldropThere is no question that Office 365 is a massive success for Microsoft, and that it is disrupting the entire productivity software category. Nowhere is that more evident than in the SMB customer segment. Adoption of Office 365 by SMBs is already off the charts and even seems to be accelerating lately. However, as is often the case when a new, disruptive technology comes along, partners can be left wondering “What’s in it for me?” and “How do I take advantage of this massive change?”

As a long-time veteran in the SMB space, both as a channel partner and in various roles in Microsoft, (including the initiation of a concept that eventually became Office 365), I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about these questions and discussing them with partners, customers and other industry experts. The good news is that there are some relatively simple ways for partners to turn Office 365 into an efficient and economically viable business model for themselves and their customers.

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Acoredialfter looking back on the first half of 2014, we see momentum rising in the cloud communications market and a positive outlook on the future from our customers.

The research and forecasts from firms like Infonetics Research tell a story of a rapidly growing market for cloud communications, with adoption being driven by real customer demand. We can see that, so far in 2014, cloud communications have moved beyond the hype and are delivering true value for partners and their customers.

As we’ve spoken to our customers over the last 6 months, these are the four things that stood out:  

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Status Check: MSFT Office 365 FastTrack Funds

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My esteemed colleague Kevin McLaughlin at CRN has broken a story that Microsoft has exhausted funding for its controversial FastTrack program.

But let’s back up. Microsoft now provides free remote onboarding services to customers that buy 150 seats or more of Office 365, as part of an update to its Office 365 Fast Track program. Microsoft also offers customers free email migrations to Office 365 as part of a special adoption offer that runs from September 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. According to McLaughlin, this last part has many Microsoft partners upset because they charge money for their email migration services. Anything more complex than a basic email migration will still be handled by Microsoft partners, Microsoft’s Phil Sorgen reported to McLaughlin.

In these cases, Microsoft will provide funding to customers to defray the costs of the partner engagement. Microsoft partners can get $15 per seat for up to 1,000 seats and $5 per seat after that, with a cap of $60,000 per customer. You can read that entire interview here.

The Office 365 Fast Track changes stand to impact Microsoft's “born in the cloud” partners the most, as many of them got into Office 365 early on and have made significant investments in building service capabilities.

Now back to the main point. The above funding of $15 per seat, $5 afterwards with the $60K cap is still intact. What’s exhausted is another funding category, called Microsoft Partner Investment Engine (PIE) used to fund high-end pilots and deployments. It’s that funding that has been depleted faster than expected but, to clarify the confusion, the rest of the Office 365 Fast Track program is still operating.

Geeman Yip, CEO at BitTitan, offered the following observations in this video interview I conducted recently. Click here.

Gman interview

“While Microsoft funding is currently allocated, I think it’s important to remember the value of a customer engagement with a Microsoft Partner. The goal of the partner is to ensure all facets of the migration are seamless as possible to the customer, and to add value in providing the missing pieces in a proactive manner. The funding from Microsoft may not be available, but the partner and the value they bring to a customer is plentiful.” Melanie Gass, president of Center Point Solutions shared.

“What’s encouraging with this news is that FastTrack support, as well as the Office 365 Deployment Offer, continues. Our partners have told us they’re getting big leads from the FastTrack support center, so partners should view FastTrack as a solid lead source for 150+ seat deals, as well as Tier 2 support for partners. What’s exciting is when partners combine the Office 365 Deployment Offer of $15/mailbox with the 20-30% deployment savings of the Microsoft Turbo Offer which automates entire migration projects for partners at a discount, there is a big opportunity to drive significant partner profitability and end-customer savings for Office 365 migrations.” Said Todd Schwartz, co-CEO at SkyKick.

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GridVision Main DashboardGridVision has released its multi-tenant automation and IT management platforms for SMBs. As you may remember from my last article with GridVision, in which I saw the beta launch, their technology is based on Azure, uses a web-based portal (pictured), and allows users to create custom policies to best-fit their needs.

Currently, many SMBs are using a variety of solutions, including manual processes to manage their infrastructure. The GridVision release is designed to offer a more broad coverage option for IT Pros to manage Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange, Windows servers and Office 365 from a single platform.

I caught a few more moments with Christian Ehrenthal (pictured) today, where he answered a few of my burning questions:

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attContinuing its investment in its Ohio network and team, AT&T is seeking applicants to fill more than 120 jobs statewide. In the past 22 months, AT&T has filled more than 1,600 jobs in Ohio and has invested $1.6 billion in state wireless and wireline networks since 2011.

"Ohio's broadband network is one of the most important infrastructure components for our state's economy and for our residents' ability to prosper at work and at home," said State Senator Cliff Hite. "I'm excited to hear that AT&T continues to offer good-paying job openings with benefits throughout the Buckeye State, many of which are focused on the build-out of their broadband network."

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skykickGood news for SkyKick, as today it was added to the Ingram Micro UK Cloud portfolio. This announcement expands on the US-only distribution agreement that SkyKick signed with Ingram Micro earlier this year.

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nuvoteraNuvotera today announced that it has entered into an exclusive partnership with Soonr to provide secure file sharing and collaboration services for its MSP customers. Under this agreement, Soonr will be distributed to Nuvotera’s network of MSPs, and the Soonr Workplace solution will integrate with Nuvotera’s Nuvoconnex Platform.

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Ummm…Redmond – we’ve got a problem. I’ve taken the position forever that Lync was the weakest link in Office 365. I don’t like it. I’ve had more messed-up meeting inside and outside Microsoft using Lync. It was a case of the “not ready for prime time players” (yea – kids won’t get that). Bottom line – I never felt Microsoft was a telecom and I have Response Point wounds to prove it. Lync only extended my belief.

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RackWare Announces Management Module for AWS

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rw-logoRackWare announced RackWare Management Module (RMM) for Amazon Web Services (AWS) will be available Nov. 24.

RMM enables enterprises to move workloads from any source infrastructure to AWS. It offers hybrid scaling by automatically instantiating applications in AWS when demand spikes and dropping them back into the internal site as demand falls.

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continuumContinuum Veterans Foundation donated $50,000 for a second year to Hire Heroes USA, an organization that works to create job opportunities for U.S. veterans and their spouses and lower the veteran unemployment rate.

Continuum established the Continuum Veterans Foundation in 2012, and its donation to Hire Heroes USA helped 101 veterans obtain employment in civilian jobs, more than double Continuum’s goal.

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Acronis Rolls out New Mobility Solution for SMBs

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acronisAcronis today announced the release of Acronis Access 7, designed specifically to allow SMBs a safe and secure data access, sync, and share solution. I was able to spend a few moments with Anders Lofgren, Acronis’ VP of Product Management, Mobility, and we had a great discussion both about the new solution, and how it was developed for the company’s resellers.

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Ciber UK Joins NetSuite Solution Provider Program

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Netsuite logoNetsuite Inc., a provider of cloud-based financials, ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites, announced Ciber UK, part of IT consulting company Ciber, joined its solution provider program.

Ciber UK joined the program to deliver NetSuite solutions to customers in B2B and B2C ecommerce, SRP, and professional services automation.

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125x125 ads-3Mark your calendar as SMB Nation is hitting the road with its Office 365 Tour.   It may be in 2015, but we are busy working to make sure this tour brings you the latest content, best speakers, and networking together in this one day event.  

Check out some of our Sessions:
•    Line of Business Apps/Integration
•    Migration
•    SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business 101

registrationRegistration is open now.  Be sure to secure your space, because we would hate for you to miss out.

See you on the road!

 

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Happy Veterans Day 2014!

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veterans day 2014Good morning, SMB Nation Community. The SMB Nation Team would like to wish you all a very Happy Veterans Day (US) and take a moment to thank the Veterans in our community and beyond!

This holiday in the US shares its roots with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day across the globe, first celebrated on November 11, 1919. There was a slight change, however, in 1945, when World War II veteran Raymond Weeks moved to expand the holiday to recognize veterans of all wars. The nomenclature change then happened in 1954, where the word “Armistice” was replaced by the word “Veterans.”

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ShoreTel Receives Top Marks in Recent Study

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ShoreTel LogoShoreTel today announced that it has ranked at the top of customer service, loyalty and value in a recent study by Nemertes Research. This particular study polled replies from 500 IT Professionals in US organizations, in which pros listed, ranked and weighed their top telephony providers. This community feedback was then combined with business analytic data from Nemertes Research’s PilotHouse program.

Results for this report were segmented into the “M” (less than 2500 employees) and Enterprise (+2500 employees) markets. ShoreTel came out as the overall favorite for the Enterprise segment, winning highest value in customer service and customer loyalty.

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stage2dataStage2Data, Canadian cloud solution provider, will participate in “Strategies for Managing Education and Research Data” Nov. 12, Orion Networks’ event intended to connect data management practitioners with real-world experience.

Jacques Swanepoel, Stage2Data CTO, will take part in the Q&A panel.

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The Coming O365 Talent Shortage

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will workAnother leading, not lagging, indicator of the success of Office 365 is an emerging talent shortage to do the work. While the current administration in Washington DC hasn’t been able to capitalize on the (technically) robust US job growth (over 214,000 jobs were added in October and 2.3 million jobs created in 2014), you can leverage your Office 365 expertise for more goodness. The goodness could be in the form of higher pay, a better work environment, or a better work location. Basically so goes Office 365, so goes its talent market. You heard it here first – good times dead ahead.

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By Neeraj Periwal, Marketing Coordinator, efolder

eFolder Nation Banner CloudfinderEarlier this month, Microsoft made headlines by making two major announcements about Office — news that will have a big impact for many SMBs, MSPs, and VARs.

On November 4 and 6, Microsoft said it was making Office free for iOS and Android and also announced a new tie-in with Dropbox, making it seamless for Dropbox users on iOS and Android to open and edit their files directly in Office applications.

These moves make it clear that Microsoft wants to (and will!) sell more Office 365 licenses to small and medium-sized businesses. This is not only a terrific competitive move for Microsoft — it also introduces a tremendous opportunity for players in the IT channel.

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bob vogel augustBy Bob Vogel, B2 Marketing

One of the biggest challenges faced by most IT executives is the fact that most of their techs are great at fixing and maintaining networks, but they lack good writing skills, and they rarely document their work.

It’s hard enough trying to get them just to update service tickets with good notes. But these are NOT the guys or gals who are going to prepare a comprehensive report for your clients detailing the work you’ve performed. And they’re certainly not the people who are going to walk out of a prospect situation and generate a well-written and well-organized set of documents detailing what they discovered, and what the implications are.

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