Microsoft Director of Sales Excellence - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Sales Excellence Blog

Microsoft Action Pack – Too much? Too little?

So there have been several threads, Blogs, conversations, etc. around the Microsoft Action Pack, what it includes, is enough included, etc. in the recent days.  As always, I have been reading these thinking about them from the Partner side and the Microsoft side, what’s accurate, what’s hype, etc..  So let’s take a look at this from a higher level:

What is Action Pack?  From the Action Pack site:

“The Microsoft Action Pack is available exclusively through the Microsoft Partner Program. It can be the start of an ongoing relationship with Microsoft that becomes even more valuable over time.

The Action Pack subscription includes a Welcome Kit and four quarterly updates. You get new Microsoft software for your business use, access to special partner training materials, and sales and marketing tools to grow your business.”

The Action Pack gets you:

·         Tons of Microsoft Software (Included software)

·         Tools and training to help you effectively sell, install, and build on the Microsoft platform.

·         Marketing resources and professionally designed materials that help you effectively target — and win — more customers.

·         Sales tools and assistance that you can use to close more sales.

·         Support that helps you and your customers.

How do you get Action Pack?

·         You must be a Registered Member in the Microsoft Partner Program ($0 cost)

·         You must purchase an Action Pack subscription ($299 in US)

So if you look at the offer at its base level, is getting all of the things included in the Action Pack for that price really that bad of a deal?  Really, is it?

Now I know there have been many pieces of feedback and concerns voiced by Partners over various aspects of Action Pack and I can honestly say that I for one do appreciate the input and feedback.  After all, feedback, input, communication, etc. are some of the main reasons the MSSMALLBIZ Community was established many years ago and continues to grow today.

A couple items I did want to offer some perspective on though:

1)     Yes, Action Pack is designed to provide Partners with access to Microsoft software to learn about the products and to use them to run their business; however, is it meant to be the “Golden Key” to give you ALL of the Microsoft software with ALL of the benefits and bells & whistles?  No.  As the description even says, it is the “START” of an ongoing relationship with Microsoft.  The Microsoft Partner Program is the progression of that relationship.

a.     You always have additional options such as various MSDN and TechNet subscriptions to help you access various Microsoft software in your business.

b.    Even if you do have to purchase some software, doesn’t the Action Pack give you a BIG jumpstart on that list with what it includes for the price?

2)     The Microsoft Partner Program is the actual relationship program that you build with Microsoft and use to access more benefits and features.  As you achieve additional levels, whether that be becoming a Microsoft Small Business Specialist, a Microsoft Certified Level Partner, or a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, you receive more benefits in software licenses (see full list of additional software licenses included on page 94 of the Microsoft Partner Program Guide), access to training and offers, marketing, etc.

a.     Yes, we do realize that there are increased requirements to achieve the various levels; however, as with any progressive program, there needs to be higher level of requirements to achieve higher levels of benefits.  It is the benefit of achieving these additional accomplishments.

3)     Yes, we also realize that some Partners do not want to grow above being a 1 man shop and that is perfectly fine.  No, we are not trying to tell Partners they have to grow, we realize it is your prerogative to run your business as you see fit.  Because the Partner Program is a tiered program though, there are certain levels that just cannot be achieved by organizations below a certain size based on some minimum requirements around # of certified individuals on staff.  As a Partner, one of the choices is whether striving to achieve these additional levels is a goal of yours.  If it is, knowing that # of certified people is a requirement, can being a 1 person organization still be a goal?  As a former business owner, I know that there are some decisions which require a shift in your business.  If achieving the next level in the Partner Program is a goal, then having the required # of people on staff would be a goal which means there needs to be a shift away from the goal of just being a 1 man shop.

4)     Could the way Action Pack subscriptions is run and the requirements be different?  Sure, anything can be different; however, we are talking about the program that is currently in place with its current set of requirements and operating procedures.  We are continually striving to make the Action Pack and Partner Program better and more beneficial and useful for our Partners.

a.     Please continue to submit your input and suggestions on how the Action Pack Program can be improved and a more valuable tool for you as a Partner.  Your input is valued and yes, we do want to hear your thoughts.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions (do with them what you want, I offer them only to be helpful):

1.  Do not “shotgun email” if you have input and feedback.  “Shotgun emailing” is sending an email to everyone and every group you know at Microsoft and maybe even some you don’t just because you have their email address with your complaint.  First, you simply upset the people that have nothing to do with the item and second, those who do receive an email with a huge To: list realize what you are doing and this can immediately lessen your chances of having your email taken seriously.  Send the email to the appropriate people or group that can help you with your request, input or need since it is in their area to assist.

2. Avoid demanding statements.  We’ve all seen them.  You know, the emails that state, “You MUST do this or that,” or “I DEMAND that this or that happen,” etc.  Quite often this can actually have a very negative impact on the effectiveness of your suggestion or input and can often lead to it being dismissed completely as not an offer to work towards a solution together but rather an all or nothing proposition.   With all or nothing propositions, if you don’t get all, you will get nothing.  Is that really what you are proposing?

3. Please realize that just because you do not get a status update or direct reply, do not think that this means that no one is listening or that nothing is being done.  There have been many things that have happened or decisions made based on input and suggestions we have received, even though we have not publicly documented it online or in email with external individuals.  Our Anti-piracy team is a prime example of that.  We get reports and never give status reports.  Then one day you see a notification that we’ve filed a lawsuit against a list of organizations.

So to summarize:

·         Yes, the Action Pack is designed to be a starting point.  At a high level, is what you get vs. what you invest worth it to you?  Only you know the answer to that. 

·         No, Action Pack is not meant to be the end all be all of providing Microsoft Partners with all of the Microsoft software and benefits.  You have additional options such as MSDN, TechNet, Small Business Specialist, Certified Partner Level, Gold Certified Partner Level, etc. available to you.  Which, if any, of these are right for you and your business?  Only you can make that decision.

·         Yes, there are various levels of requirements and hurdles to accomplish each of these.  As such, when you make the decision around which is right for you, realize that those minimum requirements are now the baseline you must meet to achieve those levels.  If achieving those requirements is not something that is right for your business, then neither is that program or level of benefits.

·         Do I think everyone will like or agree with these requirements or the items listed in my post above?  Come on.  I doubt there’s any Blog entry anywhere on this list that everyone agrees with.

·         Yes, please continue to submit your input and feedback to us as we work together to build our engagement programs with you together.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

 

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights