Do business better by leveraging MPN benefits
Would you believe me if I told you I could have increased my close rate by 25% and served all my customers better and more efficiently, all while decreasing my workload and freeing up time to spend with my family – but I didn’t do it? Well, it’s true. Despite the fact that small companies – mine included – have limited time and resources, I left some big benefits on the table. And I’d be willing to bet you have similar opportunities you’re passing up as well. Let me tell you how I became a true believer in using my MPN benefits.
US Licensing Group has been a Microsoft partner for more than 20 years, and we recently made the decision to become a Silver Competency partner. With that competency came Internal Use Rights and Advisory Hours. But, like many of you, I was too busy to really dive into what those benefits were and how I could leverage them – until a conversation with an IAMCP mentor prompted me to take a closer look.
The problem: leaking leads
We were formerly in the Small Business Specialist Community, a program that surfaced up new leads for companies that needed solutions help. SBSC went away, so Microsoft developed a portal to continue giving partners inbound leads. Our problem was, we didn’t have a good business process for tracking those leads. We could work the opportunities through the browser-based portal, or we could export them to Excel, but either way, we just weren’t able to develop a consistent method for following up with leads, our close rate was low, and promising opportunities simply leaked through our fingers.
The solution: Leverage Microsoft partnership and Advisory Hours
On the advice of an IAMCP mentor, I decided to use Advisory Hours to tackle the problem. Enter Corey Hanson, CRM Online specialist. A conversation with Microsoft’s James Whelan led me to Corey, who was, frankly, a little stunned at how many opportunities we were missing. He took our spreadsheet, took our hand, and showed us how to do the CRM implementation properly. He asked a lot of really relevant questions that we didn’t know to ask, talked us through best practices, and made some really valuable suggestions.
Two results came from this:
  1. We ended up with a really solid CRM Online platform that’s tailored to our specific needs
  2. In the process, we learned how powerful and fantastic CRM Online really is. Now we can go out and sell it because we’re using it to great success ourselves, and we have a solution that took far less time to create than if we had to build it on our own.
The process Corey helped us formulate is much easier. We import that painful CSV file to CRM Online, and it does a lot of the work for us. Many of the tasks that weren’t getting done didn’t happen because there were so manual and required time and attention I just don’t have. As I said before, I’m a small business – I’m interacting with existing customers, diving into new technology. I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say automating those processes means they happen a lot more regularly. But we have CRM Online IURs, and leveraging that benefit means a lot of my work load has been taken off of me. Emails go out, people respond, I can track it all. It’s been incredibly beneficial.
Why they call them “benefits”
Here’s the exciting part: the time it took for an average engagement (when they happened) used to be 3-4 hours. That’s been cut in half. CRM Online pulls data from the spreadsheet and even surfaces up BI we didn’t have access to before. Now we can see what products and solutions our customers are looking for.
Our close rate has gone up 25%. The new process has only been in place for three months, but we’ve had a record year this past year, and I attribute a lot of that growth to this change in our processes.
And best of all, I have more time – more time as a parent and as a professional to do things I want to do. Our organization spends a lot of time volunteering in local schools, driving awareness of STEM and helping elementary school kids discover technology interests. It’s been really empowering to have that free time back.
Since this success, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, what else can I do with this? And I’ve come up with a lot of uses. I’ve been leveraging our Advisory Hours left and right to do things like bring in Microsoft specialists to help our customers better understand their projects or to take deep dives into new products we haven’t had exposure to before, like Azure.
The CRM Online project was the tip of the iceberg, and now we’re seeing if we think and act strategically and partner with Microsoft in all the different ways possible, we can really take advantage of the tools and resources that are out there for us. My thought is, if Microsoft is going to invest in making benefits available, we should have sense enough to take advantage. I encourage all partners to spend the time and effort upfront to really reap the benefits on the other end.

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