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Partners Get Inside Track with Deployment Planning Services: Part 3

Over the past two weeks, we've seen how partners identify and educate clients who qualify for the Microsoft-funded Deployment Planning Services (DPS) engagements. With the sizable investment required to become certified -- a minimum Gold or Silver competency plus additional testing -- partners can maximize the value with a strategic approach to DPS.

As a tool to build relationships and future service sales with enterprise customers, it's important to thoughtfully align your DPS market approach with your certification roadmap.

Peter Renner, director of Microsoft Professional Services for En Pointe Technologies, a nationwide LAR with a strong emphasis on professional services, worked with the En Pointe marketing team to determine which of the certifications made the most sense for the company to support.

"It's a big investment," Renner said. "We looked at the client base to decide which of the certifications made the most sense. Then we made the training and hiring decisions based on fulfilling those requirements."

Let Customers Dip Their Toes in the Cloud
For those partners who are trying to stand out in the crowd with cloud services, the DPS offerings can provide a low-risk entry point and strategic advantage over competitors. While the Private Cloud (PVDPS) and Public Cloud (AZDPS) engagements help customers transition to the cloud, the Desktop (DDPS) and Lync/Exchange (L&EDPS) give a broad range of customers the opportunity to test out cloud solutions without full commitment. Through DDPS, a proof-of-concept for Office 365 can be rolled out to just one department as a test run. 

"When you are talking with customers on Exchange 2003 or Office 2003, moving to the cloud is a big transitional change for them," Renner noted. "Through the deployment services, they can dip their toe in the cloud by going the hybrid approach. The Lync and Exchange engagement allows you to help the customer test an on-prem, cloud or hybrid approach."

Strengthen Your Pinpoint Listing
An additional way to build the value of your DPS offerings into a strategic or competitive advantage is through the Microsoft Pinpoint directory. Since the customer investment in the planning services is minimal, DPS engagements are a perfect opportunity to ask for a reference. Customer references have a direct effect on search results on Pinpoint -- the more, the better. 

As a part of their Statement of Work, En Pointe DPS customers are asked to respond to a Pinpoint customer survey upon completion of the engagement. With a five-star rating and 126 customer references, En Pointe ranks No. 3 on a "deployment" keyword search of the Pinpoint directory.

Lessons Learned
Through Microsoft funding, the DPS projects lower the customer's risk of testing out both new technologies and new partners. For each of the partners we interviewed, DPS engagements have resulted in "trusted partner" customer relationships that followed with more projects and additional service opportunities.

Lessons that we have learned from these partners who are making the most of DPS services include:  

  • Work with LARs and training partners to identify the volume license customers who have un/under-deployed applications.
  • Educate customers on the value of Software Assurance benefits.
  • There are multiple ways to use DPS engagements to introduce cloud to your customers.
  • Maximize the value from the DPS program with a strategic approach -- from marketing through delivery.

Through the DPS program, Microsoft pays you to advise customers on the deployment of their unused assets. Not only are the engagements a win-win for everyone involved, they are an opportunity for partners to build long-lasting profitable relationships.

How are you using DPS to build your business? Add a comment below or e-mail me and let's share the knowledge.

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Posted by Barb Levisay on December 19, 2012