​Nearly one year into the new Microsoft Partner Network structure that we launched on November 1, 2010, and I’m excited how passionate – and vocal – you have been about the changes we introduced last fall. In comments on this blog, at Worldwide Partner Conference, through tweets and other channels, Microsoft partners have demonstrated how much they care about the Microsoft partner community by sharing their experiences and feedback regarding the revamped Partner Network.
One of the most meaningful (and talked-about) changes has been the way partners are now able to designate and market their proficiency in Microsoft products and technologies. Customers and partners told us that they need to be able to quickly and easily identify solution providers who can help them address their business challenges. In response to that that request, we introduced gold and silver competencies to empower partners to succeed in today’s business environment while planning for their future with Microsoft.
I believe these competencies hold immeasurable value for our partners because they align with how customers actually shop for solutions. Now that customers can more easily identify your capabilities and expertise, it makes partner selling and customer purchasing more efficient than ever. This should not only expedite transactions, but contribute to forming deeper, more strategic business relationships with the customers who most need your expertise.
The Microsoft competency drives value even before customers knock on your door or visit your website in two specific ways:
  • Marketability. Simply put, there is significant prestige associated with a Microsoft Partner Network competency. In addition to the marketing resources and support you receive as a member of the community, partners who have attained one or more silver or gold competencies are able to explicitly market the fact that they are a member of the Partner Network that is truly the industry standard.
  • Motivation. A gold or silver Microsoft competency is an incredible business accomplishment and asset. The fact that your business has such a sought-after and exclusive skill set should definitely be an internal source of pride. You should leverage competencies to inspire staff to live up to (and even exceed!) expectations and realize your company’s full potential in the marketplace.
Centare, in Brookfield, Wisconsin, is an example of a partner for whom a competency has enhanced the capacity to market and sell its solutions, and generally compete in the contemporary business environment. Says Dave Rice, Director at Centare, “The Microsoft Partner Network enables us to engage directly with Microsoft and expand our reach to new clients while keeping our business in line with the continued innovation in Microsoft solutions.”
There are many more stories like Centare’s, and I’d like to hear yours. The purpose of this blog is to keep ideas around MPN success flowing, and I thank you for sharing your hopes and concerns about the Microsoft Partner Network throughout the year. Please keep the success stories, questions, and comments coming! Engage with me on Twitter @Jenni_Flinders, and regularly visit this blog for information that enables you to reap the greatest benefits from your membership in the Microsoft Partner Network. 
Jenni Flinders
Microsoft Vice President, U.S. Partner Strategy and Programs