We recently spoke to Laura Thomas, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Antares Technology Solutions, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The company is a Silver Microsoft partner with Software Development and Application Development competencies. Antares specializes in custom software solutions such as web-based apps, mobile solutions, and client –server apps. Laura shared a little about her experience with MPN Training resources.
Q: When and why do you use partner training?
Laura Thomas: As our company’s MPN administrator and sales and marketing contact, I monitor gaps to see where we need to get people certified in order to stay compliant.
Q: Do you go looking for training, or do you wait for a communication from Microsoft asking you to try a new training resource?
LT: It’s a little of both. I try to make sure that our staff knows where they can find the topics. For example, I look at Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) for technical training. I have encouraged staff to build learning plans.
Q: What are some of your favorite partner-training resources or courses, and why?
LT: We look at MPN. We also have local partners who do soft skills training: New Horizons and MeasureUp. We like in-person training and virtual training. MVA is incredible – being able to pick your courses, seeing what you want to learn, looking at courses by topic. We have done the Practice Accelerators and those have been really good. Also, I love, love, love the MPN HotSheet (for US partners).
Q: Could you give an example of how the Microsoft training and accreditation helped you in your role with an actual customer scenario? For example, how has Sales or Presales Specialist accreditation helped?
LT: I am the Sales Specialist for Antares. I didn’t bring those credentials to the client to say, “Hey, this is what I do.” But, it helps me be more intelligent, be able to ask better questions, be able to help identify the business problem, and then figure out the solution.
On the developer side, we appreciate the benefits that come to our company by being a Microsoft partner. The partnership helps us recoup some of the costs—example using the licensing benefits, Internal Use Rights (IUR). Secondly, credentials help in requests for proposals (RFPs)—like being able to say, “We have x number of MCPs on staff, we are a Microsoft partner, we have these competencies.” It all helps to validate.
Q: What is your next learning goal?
LT: From the company perspective, we want to continue to improve the mobile experience. Multi-platform support—whether desktop, laptop, cell phone, and on whatever browser. For me, I am always wanting to learn better ways to market the company and to do the sales process.
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