With over 16,000 delegates attending 488 sessions, and break out events over 5 days and 5000 business meetings, WPC was the event of the year in the 2013 Microsoft calendar. And this year’s WPC 2014 promises to be even better! For SMB resellers in particular, it’s the ideal platform to help you reach new markets, broaden your customer base, increase your revenue and differentiate your business. You can also network with other partners and Microsoft experts to share best practices, while picking up easy to implement marketing strategies.

If you’re a total newbie, you’re in for an exciting event, because everyone agrees that this is the year to attend WPC. We talked to some SMB partners who are seasoned regulars at WPC, and asked them about the benefits of coming along, as well as any advice they’d give to SMB partners attending for the first time.

Get closer to Microsoft

For Steve Cox, COO of SMB reseller TSG, the most valuable part of WPC is hearing about Microsoft’s strategy straight from Microsoft HQ.

“One of the key sessions for me last year was Kevin Turner’s keynote, where he discussed Microsoft’s FY14 roadmap. There’s something about seeing all the new technologies being demonstrated live that really drove the messaging home. It got me excited about the possibilities for rapid growth from our relationship with Microsoft, and now we're re-telling the Microsoft story to our customers and getting them excited too.”

Chris McQuade, Operations Manager at PCS Systems, a Microsoft managed partner, says that his attendance at WPC has had a direct impact on his bottom line.

“When we arrived at WPC last year, we hadn’t sold a single Office 365 seat. Now, because of the contacts we’ve made and the things we’ve learnt about Microsoft’s cloud strategy and where we fit into that, we’ve gone from selling no licences to being one of the top selling O365 partners.”

Preparation is key

“Don’t over-prepare, but be prepared”, advises Chris, when we asked him to share his tips for getting the most out of WPC. “Having an idea of what you need to achieve is essential, but don’t limit yourself by planning too rigorously, because there’s so much happening that you wouldn’t have expected, it’s good to give yourself some flexibility; you’ll get more out of it that way.”

Monetise your Microsoft relationship

David Fuller, Partners and Alliances Director, from EACS agrees on the planning front. “I didn’t really know what to expect from my first year at WPC, but it definitely taught me what I wanted to get out of the next year. As an SMB reseller, my key objective is to see how I can monetise my relationship with Microsoft. How do I ensure we're getting the most out of our relationship with them?”

David goes on to explain: “For me, that means looking at three areas:

People: Who do I need to meet or see?
Programme: Which sessions are going to be valuable?
Partners: Are there any other businesses who can complement our portfolio?

If I can tackle all those areas and come back with something valuable, it will have been time well spent.”

There’s always something that will surprise you

“But the one thing about the event that always surprises me is the amount of extra sessions there are available,” he goes on to say. “It’s not just about technology and the Microsoft message for SMB resellers, it's stuff that's complimentary to your business; the things that sit around it. I happened to drop in on a session about site content while I had some downtime. Coming from a technical background, I don’t know a lot about the marketing side of things, so it gave me some incredibly valuable information which I took back to the business and implemented straightaway on our website.”

Big changes on the horizon

“There have been some huge changes in Microsoft recently.” says David Fuller from EACS.  “There is a new CEO and a new strategy. I’m really looking forward to hearing the announcements from Satya Nadella. There’s a lot changing, which will create huge opportunities for SMB partners. It’s an exciting year.”

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David Fuller at EACS

David is the Partnerships and Alliances Director at EACS, an award winning and trusted strategic IT partner to UK companies of all sizes. With a 20 year history of working closely with Microsoft, EACS has the technical expertise and the commercial acumen to enable customers to realise the business value of their IT investments.

Chris McQuade at PCS Business Systems

Chris McQuade, Operations Director at Top VAR Gold Microsoft Partner, PCS Business Systems, a highly ambitious customer centric IT solutions architect and service delivery specialist.

Established in 1995, PCS Business Systems Ltd have grown rapidly by offering world class products combined with exceptional service. We harness unrivalled in-house expertise and the market-leading hardware and software technologies of our business partners to design, build, install and configure fully managed IT systems. Our involvement in the industry has been accredited by Microsoft enabling us to achieve recognised competencies such as Gold Mid-Market Solutions Provider, Gold OEM, Silver Device & Deployment, Silver Server Platform, and Silver Identity and Access. PCS Business Systems are a rapidly growing cloud practice gathering huge experience and expertise in the SMB and Enterprise space which has seen them awarded the Cloud Accelerate competency from Microsoft.

PCS Business Systems value our customers and their business goals and are proud to have been fundamental in the growth and development of hundreds of successful businesses.

Steve Cox at TSG

Steve Cox is the Chief Operating Officer at TSG. He joined TSG in 2009 where he is translating what he learned working at an enterprise level in a corporate environment for the benefit of small and medium sized businesses. Find out more here.