On Saturday, April 15th, Stratos Cloud Alliance Partner Day 2023 took place, offering a series of insightful sessions to help Microsoft partners gain valuable insights and strategies for success. This article provides an overview of each session for those who couldn’t attend the event or would like a refresher on the insights and solutions presented.
We would like to thank our sponsor and partner, Cavallo. Cavallo provides data-driven distribution management software, services, and solutions for Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365 BC. Their support makes this event possible.
Opening Session | Building Your Practice – Insider Advice from a Microsoft Partner Veteran
With over 30 years of experience in the Microsoft partner channel, Joe Longo shared valuable insights and lessons learned in building a successful Microsoft practice. He discussed strategies for retaining and growing your client base, increasing revenue, and capitalizing on the Microsoft platform.
Key Takeaways from this session included:
- Specialization in verticals: Focus on specific industries to cater to their unique needs, as you can’t be all things to all people.
- Partnering for success: The key to success lies in building strong partnerships.
- Embracing technology: Utilize power platform, AI, and BI to deliver added value to the C-Suite and business application space.
- Know your clients: Understand the needs of C-Suite clients and use BDA or delivery teams to create business value.
- Stratify your clients: Focus on clients that need your services and don’t waste time on those that don’t.
- Buyers know more than ever: To stand out, offer deep tech expertise or industry expertise.
- Build business value: Generate revenue share through client fidelity and data, and develop a 2–3-year roadmap.
- Data management: Help decision-makers see the value in working with you by offering licensing and data management solutions.
- Be seen as a strategic advisor: Proactively pursue clients’ digital spending and strive for growth.
- Retain your best people: Understand that employees don’t leave for money alone; they leave due to issues with management, culture, or leadership.
- Raise your rates: Charge appropriately for the value you bring to clients and invest in a knowledgeable workforce.
Session 2 | Selling the Microsoft Platform: How Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and Power Platform Can Drive Revenue
In this session, Bill McGibony, D365 Consultant, emphasized the importance of expanding beyond ERP implementation and helping customers realize the value of integrating other Microsoft technologies, particularly Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE) and Power Platform. He shared key strategies and tools for partners to sell CRM and Power Platform solutions, which can lead to increased revenue and stronger customer loyalty.
Key Takeaways from this session included:
- Why partners sell CE & Power Platform: Partners can benefit from selling CE and Power Platform solutions by tapping into potential licensing opportunities, expanding their service offerings, and building deeper relationships with clients.
- Incentives for clients: Partners can offer clients incentives to adopt CE and Power Platform solutions, such as streamlining the sales process, improving customer engagement, and providing opportunities to optimize their buyer journey.
- Becoming a strategic partner: Partners should focus on the entire sales process to become strategic partners for their clients, not only in technology but also in terms of the buyer journey.
- Expanding relationships with stakeholders: Reach out to different stakeholders within the client’s organization to offer other Microsoft products, which can help grow your business and establish you as the go-to expert.
- Referral programs: Encourage and facilitate referral programs within the client’s organization, particularly when offering CRM solutions.
- Power Platform capabilities: Leverage Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents to help clients optimize their processes and address business needs more effectively.
- Customer journey optimization: Prioritize the customer journey in order to help clients optimize their processes and adopt the right solutions for their needs.
- Power Platform agility: The Power Platform allows clients to become more agile, empowering them to create custom apps and solutions to address their unique challenges.
- Governance and data security: Highlight the benefits of having a single platform for data governance and security, reducing the need for third-party vendors and ensuring data is managed effectively.
- Integration through Power Platform connectors: Leverage Power Platform connectors for seamless integration with other Microsoft solutions, such as Dynamics 365.
- Exciting CE & Power Platform features: Showcase the powerful features of CE and Power Platform, including Power Apps, embedded Power BI, Copilot + ChatGPT for light editing and suggestions, and native integration with Microsoft Teams.
- Opportunity pipeline and reporting: Demonstrate the ability to create comprehensive reports that combine data from the opportunity pipeline and other sources, all without leaving the Dynamics 365 environment.
By implementing the strategies discussed in this session, Microsoft partners can effectively sell Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and Power Platform solutions, driving revenue growth and building stronger relationships with clients. The focus should be on understanding and addressing the unique needs of clients, optimizing their buyer journey, and providing agile solutions that enable them to meet their business objectives.
Session 3 | Strategies, Resources, and Tools to Accelerate Business Central Migrations
Jeff Smith and Ben Bolte presented an informative session on the strategies, resources, and tools available for partners to help them accelerate Dynamics 365 Business Central migrations. He delved into the importance of migration and the various methods to ensure a seamless process for clients.
Key Takeaways from this session included:
- Understand migration value: Recognize the value of migrating to Business Central, both for clients and your own practice.
- Use migration tools: Address data migration challenges by leveraging Microsoft’s Intelligent Edge, Rapid Start, and other 3rd party tools to facilitate migration processes.
- Training and support: Offer training and support to clients during the migration process, ensuring a smooth transition.
- Partner with ISVs: Collaborate with ISVs to provide clients with industry-specific solutions.
- Customization: Utilize Extensions and Power Platform to meet client-specific requirements without excessive customization.
- Cloud migration: Encourage clients to adopt cloud-based solutions, highlighting the benefits of cloud computing.
- Embrace SaaS: Promote the adoption of SaaS solutions, offering clients the advantages of scalability, cost-effectiveness, and agility.
- Licensing: Help clients navigate the complexities of licensing to ensure compliance and cost optimization.
- Ongoing support: Provide clients with continuous support, including updates, training, and maintenance to maximize the value of their Business Central investment.
Session 4 | Exposing Hidden Benefits of Your Microsoft Partnership
In this session, Jeffrey DeMaria delved into the constantly evolving Microsoft partnership program. He discussed the importance of staying active within the program, leveraging Microsoft to generate revenue, tapping into co-selling opportunities, and obtaining marketing co-spend dollars. DeMaria also introduced various tools, resources, and updates that partners can utilize to maximize the benefits of their Microsoft partnership.
Key takeaways from this session included:
- Viva Engage: Viva Engage is a platform designed to facilitate communication and engagement within the partner community. Partners can join the community, subscribe by email, download the app, receive notifications, and post content to stay updated on the latest developments in the Microsoft ecosystem.
- Leverage the power of the community to identify new opportunities and share resources. This collaborative approach can lead to new business prospects and increased visibility within the Microsoft ecosystem.
- Repurposing Microsoft content: Partners can repurpose Microsoft content for their own marketing efforts, enabling them to share valuable information with their audience.
- Dynamics specialists: Leverage the expertise of Stratos Cloud Alliance Dynamics 365 specialists to better understand the intricacies of the platform and how it can benefit your clients.
- License table for Microsoft Action Pack partners: The Microsoft Action Pack offers a range of benefits for partners, including licenses and resources to help run their practice more efficiently.
- Partners can earn additional points through partner designation badges by participating in major Microsoft events, which can contribute to their overall partnership status.
- Performance documentation: Access resources and documentation on performance optimization to help enhance your partnership with Microsoft.
- Subscription benefits: Partners can enjoy various subscription benefits, including a percentage of revenue on Business Central (BC) and access to exclusive resources.
- Minimum user accounts: Meeting minimum user account requirements can help partners qualify for growth thresholds and access additional benefits.
By staying active in the Microsoft partnership program and leveraging the tools and resources available, partners can unlock hidden benefits that can contribute to their overall success. By focusing on community engagement, co-selling opportunities, and utilizing exclusive resources, partners can drive revenue growth and strengthen their relationship with Microsoft.
Session 5 | Uncovering Your Differentiator and Learning to Stand Out in the Crowd
In this session, Sabrina Zimara and Mike DeGeeter, Marketing professionals, emphasized the importance of identifying your unique differentiators to successfully market and brand your business. They provided insights on how to determine what sets you apart from other Microsoft partners and capitalize on those differentiators to build a strong brand that stands out in the crowd.
Key takeaways from this session included:
- The changing buyer’s journey: Buyers nowadays perform their own research and prefer to work with people, making it crucial to “humanize your brand.” Clients and prospects want proof of why they should work with you.
- Understanding differentiators: Differentiators can include price, promotions, intellectual property, industry-specific knowledge, proprietary information, tech knowledge, geographic focus, unique business models, and relationships with partners like Stratos Cloud Alliance.
- Industry-specific knowledge: Focusing on specific industries allows you to better understand the pain points of clients in those industries. People prefer to work with companies that understand their unique challenges.
- Developing differentiators: Developing and verifying differentiators requires time and effort. Keep in mind that differentiators are not static and may change over time.
- Validating your differentiation: Conduct market research to validate your differentiators and stay in touch with the changing market and buyer behaviors.
- Benefits of the right differentiators: Properly identifying and leveraging your differentiators can lead to increased speaking engagements, which can attract more clients and partnerships.
- Testing a good differentiator: A strong differentiator should be true, unique, relevant, and provable. You should be able to support your differentiator with case studies, testimonials, and client surveys.
By understanding and capitalizing on their unique differentiators, Microsoft partners can build a strong brand that stands out in the competitive market. Focusing on industry-specific knowledge, proprietary information, and strong relationships with partners like Stratos Cloud Alliance can help partners demonstrate their expertise and attract more clients. Additionally, staying in touch with the changing market and validating differentiators through market research can ensure long-term success and growth.
Session 6 | Gaining Value from Stratos Cloud Alliance – Stratos Cloud Alliance Partner Panel
In this interactive session, Stratos Cloud Alliance partners and partner development managers (PDMs) shared their experiences and insights on how to gain maximum value from Stratos. Attendees learned ways to leverage resources and tools to enhance their offerings, add to their bottom line, and expand their customer base through verticalization. The session also provided an opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation with other partners.
Key takeaways from this session included:
- Azure revenues surpassing GP revenue: The growing popularity of Azure has led to its revenues surpassing those of GP, demonstrating the increasing importance of cloud-based solutions.
- The Microsoft stack: As a trusted advisor, offering the Microsoft stack to clients can make all the difference, providing them with comprehensive solutions that cater to their needs.
- Power Platform cross-selling: Partners found that the Power Platform is an easy cross-sale opportunity, with clients loving the results they see from implementing these tools.
- Reporting and analytics: Reporting and analytics solutions within the Microsoft stack are among the most popular features, attracting attention when re-selling and cross-selling to clients.
- The role of Stratos Cloud Alliance: Partners shared that Stratos Cloud Alliance has been a significant help in scaling and growing their Microsoft practices, closing resource and staff gaps, and helping them navigate the waters of the Microsoft ecosystem.
- Addressing challenges with Microsoft licenses: Stratos Cloud Alliance has provided support for partners in overcoming challenges with Microsoft licenses, enabling them to better serve their clients.
- Convincing on-premises clients to adopt the cloud: Partners discussed the importance of working together to persuade on-premises clients to transition to cloud-based solutions, understanding each client’s unique situation and readiness to make the switch.
- Classifying clients based on their cloud readiness: Partners shared that they classify clients into categories such as not ready, maybe, or ready to switch to the cloud, enabling them to better address each client’s needs and concerns.
- The evolving role of consultants: As GP consultants transition to becoming BC consultants, there is a growing scarcity of GP consultants, making the cost of transitioning to the cloud even higher for clients who delay the switch.
By leveraging the resources, tools, and support provided by Stratos Cloud Alliance, Microsoft partners can enhance their offerings, grow their practices, and better serve their clients. The experiences and insights shared during this interactive session highlighted the importance of understanding each client’s unique situation and readiness to adopt cloud-based solutions, as well as the increasing role of cloud technologies in driving business success.
Distribution Focus: How Cavallo and SalesPad complements Business Central & GP to drive new business
Matt Williams, Cavallo shared how Cavallo, a GP & BC distribution focused ISV, complements Business Central to drive new business. He discussed the unique features and capabilities of Cavallo, and how it can enhance Business Central for clients in the distribution sector. Cavallo has helped thousands of Distribution companies, including wholesale and retail organizations. Whether you have one or multiple warehouses, Cavallo software targets inefficiencies and unlocks earning potential in your distribution operations.
Stratos Cloud Alliance Partners are encouraged to collaborate with Cavallo to offer clients a complete distribution solution, driving new business and increasing revenue.
Congratulations to the Stratos Cloud Alliance Partner of the Year Award Winners!
The event concluded on a high note with the Stratos Cloud Alliance Partner of the Year awards, recognizing the outstanding achievements of partners in various categories.
The proud winners included:
- Withum, claiming the Progressus Partner of the Year award
- TM Group, taking home the Progressus Emerging Partner accolade
- Oztera, being honored as the Growth Partner of the Year
- Kopis, earning the title of BC Partner of the Year
- Strava, securing the CRM Partner of the Year award
- Twin Engines, triumphing as the Azure Partner of the Year.
These awards celebrated the dedication, innovation, and success of partners in the Microsoft ecosystem, showcasing the thriving community and the valuable contributions made by each member.
Scale your Microsoft Channel Business with Stratos Cloud Alliance
The Stratos Cloud Alliance Partner Day 2023 provided valuable insights, strategies, and resources for Microsoft partners to succeed in today’s competitive market. The event showcased the importance of specialization, partnering, and leveraging Microsoft’s powerful solutions to drive revenue and client satisfaction. By adopting the strategies discussed during these sessions, partners can accelerate their growth, capitalize on new opportunities, and enhance their clients’ experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and other Microsoft solutions.