Success and growth are the two goals that any Microsoft CSP business strives for. To accomplish these, a Microsoft CSP has to work towards building technical and sales capability. Capability building can help enterprises to transform and achieve their full potential.
To face the business challenges of today, Microsoft CSPs need newer capabilities, both in the sales as well as technical domains. Technical and sales capability building involve undergoing training, skilling, earning certifications, etc. that can help Microsoft CSPs adapt and stay relevant in the ever-evolving business environment. Technical and sales capability building focus on specific skills that can help navigate the distinct phases of the customer’s journey.
Microsoft CSPs must overcome multiple challenges while building technical and sales capability. Some of the challenges faced by CSP are-
- Finding the time for capability building– Microsoft CSPs are already tasked with managing the subscriptions of a huge customer base. This leaves little or no time for the employees to participate in training and skill upgradation activities. As a result, the technical and sales capability building takes a backseat. Employees might be unwilling to take part in capability building as they have to tackle their normal workload as well.
- Identifying the skills that need upgradation– often CSPs fail to identify capability gaps in the organization and the set of skills that they need to learn or enhance to succeed. This inability to clearly define a goal for capability development makes it difficult to formulate an action plan.
- Constantly evolving business needs– the business environment, needs of the customers, and the buyer journey are all continuously changing. To keep up with the current business needs and stay relevant CSPs need to find the training methods and content that are up-to-date and effective to grow a Microsoft CSP business.
- Measuring the ROI– however well designed a technical and sales building program might be, its effectiveness can only be ascertained by tracking its performance to find the ROI. CSPs will need to define measurable and trackable metrics such as an increase in revenue, new customer additions, increased productivity, etc. Though the tangible benefits can be tracked the intangible benefits such as business reputation, employee engagement, motivation, etc are difficult to measure.
Augmenting capability development with technology allows CSPs to achieve maximum benefits.
The use of technology affords flexible access to training and upskilling programs. The use of a CSP billing automation tool reduces the workload of employees leaving them with more time to focus on capability building.
The need to build technical and sales capability
Building technical and sales capability will lead to a host of tangible as well as intangible benefits that will help grow your Microsoft CSP business. Capability building can make you more resilient and help achieve your future business goals. Some of the benefits of technical and sales capability development for Microsoft CSPs are given below:
To effectively pursue leads and close deals sales professionals need diverse skills. Newer industry trends, increased competition, and changing buying behaviors can lead to losing sales and profits. Intense competition makes it difficult to outsell your competitors, in such a scenario, Microsoft CSPs have to often offer discounts to close a sale which leads to lower profitability.
A sales team that is trained and has a deep knowledge of the products and services is able to assess the needs of the customers and offer comprehensive solutions to their problems. This increases sales without competing on price point. Sales training also helps in improving and deepening customer relationships. An optimal customer experience not only drives current sales but also improves the prospects of future sales.
Shorten the buying cycle
Tighter budgets and availability of a large number of options can delay the purchase decisions of customers leading to a longer sales cycle. A longer sales cycle slows sales growth and can result in an increased lead churn. Shorter sales cycles ensure regular cash flow and higher sales as more leads are engaged by the same sales team within a limited time.
Training your sales team helps them prioritize easy-to-close leads, decrease the turnaround time, and formulate robust sales processes. Sales training also helps your team adapt to the latest industry trends and approach customers in newer markets with ease. This can significantly shorten the buying cycle for your business.
Attain Solutions Partner designations
Microsoft has revamped its competencies with the existing silver and gold competencies being replaced by six solutions partner designations. On attaining one or more solutions partner designations, a CSP will receive a customer-facing solutions partner badge. These solutions partner designations will make it easier for customers looking for specific solutions to identify and partner with CSPs who can fulfill their ‘business requirements.
These designations are based on the CSP’s skills, capability, and proven industry expertise in one or more Microsoft solution areas which makes them more attractive to potential customers. To receive a solutions partner badge, CSPs have to earn points under three criteria: Performance, Skilling, and Customer Success. To earn points under Skilling, a minimum number of individuals in your organization have to earn intermediate and in certain cases advanced certifications in that particular solutions area.
Differentiate from competition
To compete and thrive in a highly competitive market you have to differentiate yourself from the competition. Building technical and sales capability makes your team more knowledgeable and increases their perceptiveness towards the present as well as future needs of the customers. The understanding of the industry trends coupled with the advanced technical capabilities leads to the development of new and disruptive solutions.
Undergoing training and having in-demand certifications not only helps your technical team in resolving customer complaints but also provides you an opportunity to pitch customized solutions to the customers making your Microsoft CSP business stand out.
Create more value
Capability building can help create more value as employees are able to identify new opportunities and develop more effective solutions for the problems. Highly skilled employees are needed to create high-quality solutions.
The more value the customers see in your solution, the higher the chances of making a sale. Creating more value not only leads to higher conversions but more profits as customers are willing to pay more for a product or a service depending upon the value it adds to their business.
Retain the right talent
The most valuable asset for any business is its people. A high attrition rate directly impacts the productivity of a business. In today’s time, developing and retaining top talent will give you a competitive advantage. Without the right talent, Microsoft CSPs will be unable to manage the subscriptions and sustain their business. Losing out on your top talent can be costly and time-consuming for you.
To continue working for an organization, apart from adequate compensation and attractive perks, employees look for career growth, development, and motivation. Employees are more likely to stay longer with a company when provided with career development opportunities. As per LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, “94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.”
How to build technical and sales capability as a Microsoft CSP
To unlock the full potential of the benefits of building technical and sales capability, Microsoft CSPs need to strategize and formulate a plan for the capability development of their employees. An effective capability development strategy considers the needs of the organization and at the same time helps employees create a new capability or enhance existing capabilities. The objectives of a capability development plan should include the following:
- Equipping the employees with market-ready skill sets
- Helping accelerate sales and deployments
- Keeping the employees engaged and motivated
- Reducing recruitment costs by acting as a retention tool
If you are thinking about or are in the process of developing a capability development program for your CSP business, you need to take note of the steps outlined below that can help you effectively train and upskill your team.
Identify the skill gaps
The training needs of one set of employees differ from the other. Before you embark on the capability-building journey for your team, you need to identify the skill gaps of your sales and technical teams. Comparing your organization’s skill gaps to that of industry benchmarks will help you assess your current position with respect to your competitors. Conducting a skill gap analysis will help you identify the skills that your teams lack which are needed to succeed as a Microsoft CSP. As per McKinsey & Company, “87% of the companies say that they have skill gaps, or expect to within a few years.”
A skill gap analysis will not only help you identify the skills your organization lacks, but also assist you in prioritizing your training needs. It will function as a guide for the strategic use of your training budget and help you assess whether the existing people can develop the required capabilities or if would there be a need to hire people with the specific capability to close the skill gap. A skill gap analysis can be conducted by creating a list of skills that your sales and technical teams need, ranking those skills based on their importance, and evaluating each employee against the selected skills.
Target the capabilities that matter
CSPs need to focus on the capabilities that will make the most impact on their Microsoft business growth. Investing in capabilities without analyzing its end results will lead to a waste of time and money. Employee engagement and input can be valuable in deciding the list of capabilities that should be targeted. Ensuring employee involvement will not only help you gain helpful insights about the capabilities but at the same time will instill a sense of belongingness and ownership.
Capability building requires employees to take time for training, adapt to newer processes, etc. When employees are directly involved in the planning and design of the capability-building program from the beginning, they are more likely to accept it leading to its success. Though every employee can have varying opinions on the importance of a capability, you need to focus on those capabilities that are necessary for the business. When looking to develop technical capability, the focus should be on training your resources on the in-demand technologies.
You should look at skilling your team in solutions areas that have the most demand from your existing and potential customers. This way you will not lose out on existing or new business due to the lack of skilled resources who can provide customized solutions.
Choose your capability development path
The training needs and paths differ from one organization to the other. Microsoft provides training resources to help partners increase their skills and attain solutions partner designations. To support organizations and individuals, Microsoft has also prepared Partner Enablement Guides which cover each of the six Microsoft solutions areas. CSPs can use these to find learning resources, prepare for role-based exams and find upcoming events. Next comes choosing the learning path you wish to follow; you can choose from the diverse options listed below:
- On-demand, self-directed training- This form of training allows your employees to learn at their own pace. The learners can have access to the different fundamental and advanced role-based certifications which they can go through whenever it is convenient for them.
- Blended self-study & Instructor-led training- To get the benefits of both self-paced learning and instructor-led training, Microsoft has launched Cloud Weeks for Partners, which is a five-day blended learning program for its partners. These help partners prepare for technical role-based certifications as well as include training on selling Microsoft solutions. These programs are free for Microsoft partners.
Renew existing certifications
Microsoft CSPs need to stay up to date with the current technological skills. Microsoft CSPs have to renew associate, expert, and specialty certifications every year. The fundamental certifications do not expire. Renewing a certification demonstrates knowledge and proves expertise. Once learners have earned certification, they can renew it by taking a free renewal assessment and do not need to retake the certification exam. As renewal assessment tests the learner on the latest technology changes they are shorter than the original exams. You can take the renewal assessments as many times as it takes you to pass.
The free online renewal assessment is available via Microsoft Learn. This assessment can be taken anytime in the eligibility window. The eligibility window for renewing certifications opens six months before the expiration date. In case the certification is not renewed by the expiration date, the learner will have to take all the certification exams again to re-earn the certification. You can access a collection of free learning modules here, to help you prepare for the renewal assessments.
Partner with C3 to give your technical and sales capability-building plan a boost
Building technical and sales capability is essential for sustaining and growing your Microsoft CSP business. To keep your Microsoft CSP business relevant, your technology team should be up to date with the latest technological demands of the industry. Skilling and training are no longer an option but a necessity. Training your sales and technology teams can help increase sales, drive revenue, and rapidly scale the business. But increasing sales and revenue will not be enough if your teams will not have the time and resources to manage the increased workload. To get the most benefit out of the training and skilling activities, employees should have the time to implement what they have learned.
However knowledgeable and skilled your sales and technology teams might become they will be unable to implement their skills if they are inundated with mounds of paperwork and manual tasks. Manually managing subscriptions, provisioning, billing, and payments leaves little or no time for your team to pursue new business opportunities. Automating your business processes such as CSP billing, order management, payment collection, and tracking will have a positive impact on your capability-building activities. Partner with C3 and leverage its features to augment your sales and technical capability.
● Save valuable time by reducing administrative work with the use of automation.
● Provide exceptional customer service by providing and self-service experience, customized plans, and offers.
● Use the power of smart integrations such as integrations with PSA software such as ConnectWise Manage as well as Datta Autotask, accounting software such as QuickBooks and Xero, and integrations with a host of external payment gateways.
Using C3 for your Microsoft CSP business will help increase the operational efficiency of your team as well as lead you to the path of profit maximization. To know more about how C3 can help you, book a demo.