How to build technical and sales capability in a time-starved world
Our guest contributor for this blog is Amy Boyle, Director of Commercial and Advisory Partner Enablement.
The most valuable resource we have right now is time. Time to support immediate business needs and customer projects. Time to invest in self-training and developing skills that support long-term business success. Yet now in 2022, as customers are back to looking for solutions and services, training must often be done during off-hours or in much shorter blocks of time. Finding time for training is still essential as evidenced by the Great Reshuffle, where many professionals took time to re-evaluate their lives and their jobs, heightening the need for skilled staff. Especially as having highly skilled staff remains critical for delivering the high-quality solutions and services customers want.
A Global Knowledge survey found that 76 percent of IT decision makers are experiencing critical skills gaps on their teams, an increase of 145 percent since 2016. As we work with partners day in and day out, we recognize the challenge this skills gap poses and understand your team needs flexible options for accessing training—on their time. Below we map out how you or your team can get started building technical and sales capability while also meeting the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program skilling requirements.
Step 1: Easily identify available learning resources that work for you
As part of our commitment to helping partners bolster workforce knowledge and attain Solutions Partner designations, we provide several different training options. Choose from on-demand, self-directed training that can be consumed at the time of the learner’s choosing, virtual training events for a more immersive, hands-on instructor experience, or a combination of self-study and virtual instruction through blended learning offerings.
With so many ways you can spend your time, it can be difficult to find the ideal learning resource and opportunity for your needs. To make it simpler, we have Partner Enablement Guides which outline upcoming event details, preparation options for role-based certifications, learning journeys by role, and additional training resources. These enablement guides are broken out across Sales; Microsoft Azure; Modern Work; Microsoft Power Platform; Microsoft Dynamics 365; and Security, Compliance, and Identity. Partners can use these enablement guides to stay on top of the latest, most relevant learning resources.
Step 2: Map out and personalize your technical learning experience
It’s also important for learners to choose the training path they’re most comfortable with: whether it’s learning individually or in a more formal class setting. As you plan out the experience which best fits your needs—and your available time—consider the following options:
Self-directed technical training – Microsoft Learn lets you personalize your learning experience by choosing from different learning paths, which can be accessed at any point of time. Each path features targeted resources and directions to help you build technical skills and prepare for certification. You can also browse the different certification options: fundamentals are a great starting point for those new in career or to Microsoft technology, role-based can help verify skills in a specific role, and specialty focuses on a specific workload. You can also find more details on available role-based certifications as well as self-service learning paths for those exams. View the role-based certifications that help contribute points to the Solution Partner designations in the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program: Business Applications, Azure, Security, and Modern Work.
Blended self-study and instructor-led training – Microsoft launched Cloud Weeks for Partners within the past year as part of our commitment to narrow the skills training gaps across our industry. These modular five-day virtual training events allow partners to build advanced, role-based skills through a mix of self-study, instructor-led courses, on-demand labs, and Q&A sessions. Delivered across multiple time zones, learners can attend at times that work best for them and choose from Azure, Business Applications, Security, and Modern Work.
For those who are starting with learning the fundamentals, Cloud Fundamentals for Partners is a similar five-day experience we’re introducing this year, which offers an introduction to basic technical concepts for both sales and technical professionals.
Advanced role-based certification – The goal of both self-directed and instructor-led training is to help you prepare for advanced role-based certifications. Many of the Microsoft Learn role-based and specialty certifications are now required to achieve Microsoft Cloud Partner Program Solutions Partner designations and earn specializations.
Step 3: Save time by renewing existing certifications
Microsoft role-based and specialty certifications need to be renewed every year to stay current. We make that easier by allowing learners to pass free, online renewal assessments on Microsoft Learn rather than retaking the original exams to renew certifications. They’re shorter than the original exams because they focus only on the latest technology changes and measure the skills needed to remain up to date.
A collection of free learning modules is available on Microsoft Learn to help tech professionals prepare for the assessments. Renewals open within six months of the certification expiration date and must be completed before that expiration. Managers can see which members of their teams have certifications that are eligible for renewal on their Partner Center dashboards.
Step 4: Accelerate business conversations with sales training
As partners look to build sales acumen and strategy, Microsoft offers the Partner Sales Acceleration Program (PSAP), a collection of on-demand trainings and assets to help support you in any stage of the sales cycle. These assets are available at any time and help guide you toward building sales capability and standing out within a crowded market.
The Microsoft Sales Bootcamps will also be offered this year at the same time as the solution area-specific Cloud Weeks for Partners. These live and on-demand trainings help sellers learn how to quickly go-to-market, identify opportunities, sell business value, and align with Microsoft sellers to accelerate the customer journey.
Set up your organization and team for success with skilling on your time
Organizations need highly skilled teams to meet customer needs while keeping pace with technological and business transformation, as well as managing the ever-changing work environment. The first step toward skilled teams is providing learning resources that work with the limited time we have. We invite our partners to equip their employees with the latest skills available; start by attending the upcoming Cloud Weeks for Partners events.
As partners look to also demonstrate their organization’s capabilities, take the time to discover how the Microsoft Partner Network is evolving and what changes are coming soon to the program. If attaining a Solutions Partner designation aligns with your company’s goals and priorities, learn more about the Solutions Partner program.
For more details on individual Solutions Partner designations including requirements, benefits and important dates, visit our previous blogs: Business Applications, Modern Work, Security, and Azure-related designations.