A blog series for U.S. partners by Jenni Flinders, Microsoft U.S. Vice President, Partner Strategy and Programs.

JenniFlinders

The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and the product refresh season is revving up!

I’m thrilled by the level of enthusiasm expressed by partners regarding the incredible Microsoft product refresh ahead for businesses and consumers. As all of our successes in the Microsoft Partner Network are intertwined, it’s so rewarding to know that you’re as excited about the potential in these new products for increased customer engagement, market penetration, and growth as we are.

But excitement only get us so far, right? It’s one thing to understand how great a product, technology, or solution is, and it’s quite another to help a customer understand the same thing, on their terms. As you prepare your business for upcoming launches of Windows 8 on October 26 and the next release of Office (currently available as a customer preview), plus start to incorporate newly released products like Windows Server 2012, Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Microsoft System Center 2012, and Visual Studio 2012 into your business, developing and implementing strong sales and marketing strategies will underpin your success.

Build Sales and Marketing Acumen

To help you more effectively talk with your customers about this wave of innovation’s features and benefits, we’ve assembled a marketing toolkit of product launch-related campaigns and materials that will help ensure your sales and marketing staff hits the ground sprinting! Microsoft Ready-to-Go Marketing should be integral part of your plan for capitalizing on the product refresh opportunity. Ready-to-Go Marketing is one of the resources listed in our online guide for overall product launch preparation and in our new Windows 8 online guide, too, in the “showcase your expertise, create demand” pillar. image

In anticipation of many conversations about our newest products between you and your customers, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Ready-to-Go Marketing campaigns for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, SQL Server 2012, and a Sneak Peek at the New Office. Beyond these specific sales and marketing resources, the Ready-to-Go Marketing site is a treasure chest of resources that support your sales success. Explore the site with the Content Finder and you’ll find marketing content, campaign materials, event support, templates, digital marketing resources, plus marketing and lead generation services to help you have your best fiscal year ever.

Build Your Technical Skills to Support Your Sales and Marketing Efforts

While you are crafting your marketing and sales plans for your solutions built on the latest Microsoft products and technologies, be sure that your technical teams are taking advantage of new training opportunities and offers to get current on their Microsoft certifications. image

To prepare for exams, consider these options for training and skill-building:

  • Partner Exam Academy helps you prepare for the Microsoft certification exams needed to meet competency requirements. There are currently eight competencies covered, with more coming soon: Business Intelligence; Communications; CRM; Data Platform; Desktop (featuring the new Exam 70-681 requirement); Management and Virtualization; Messaging; and Portals and Collaboration.
  • Microsoft Jump Start offerings from Microsoft Learning include Developing Windows 8 Apps, preparation for application development exams 70-480 and 70-481 on October 10-11; and Upgrading Skills to Windows 2012, preparation for exam 70-417, on October 23-24.
  • Microsoft Learning Partners offer Microsoft Official Courses and provide a comprehensive selection of learning solutions for Microsoft products and technologies. Use the Class Locator to find training offered at a Microsoft Learning Partner location near you.
  • Take advantage of no-cost and low-cost training offered as a benefit to Microsoft partners live in-person, live online, and on-demand, usually through the Partner Learning Center, using one or more of these resources:

We want to do everything possible to help make talking with your customers about these products streamlined, effective, and profitable. Prepare yourself for successful customer engagements and walk in your customer's shoes, and your business will be able to sell with confidence and impact.

imageFollow me on Twitter @Jenni_Flinders and let me know what Ready-to-Go Marketing resources you plan to use to win this refresh season!