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PTG Uses Microsoft Cloud Champions Club Status for Marketing

As Microsoft retires the Gold Certified and Certified tiers of its program this year, partners must find new ways to communicate their expertise in Microsoft technologies to potential customers.

One South Carolina-based Microsoft Certified Partner is using its membership in Microsoft's fledgling U.S. Cloud Champions Club as one way to fill that marketing gap.

Palmetto Technology Group (PTG) announced on Monday its membership in the club, a three-tier program that Microsoft launched in September for identifying and supporting partners who make a commitment to selling cloud solutions.

The club, which is run by Microsoft's U.S. subsidiary and is a partial model for Microsoft's global Cloud Accelerate initiative, provides additional sales resources, marketing funding and, for top-tier partners, double the margins on Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) sales.

Although PTG has belonged to the club for several months, the company issued an announcement about the status to promote a customer webinar for IT directors this week. Reed Wilson, president of PTG, says the company's message in the webinar will be that "you can focus, as a director of IT, on the more business critical applications that you're running on premise, like Great Plains. It's going to make you a little more agile."

Helping Wilson make that case will be Microsoft employees Todd Shultice, a partner account manager covering the Southeast District, and Todd Sweetser, a Microsoft Technical Solution Professional for Microsoft Online Services.

Wilson said PTG's membership in Cloud Champions was the key factor in getting Microsoft's participation in the webinar. Because of PTG's membership, Wilson said, "There's an increased awareness of who we are and what we're doing at Microsoft."

Joining the club early has had other unanticipated benefits, Wilson said. Microsoft selected PTG to participate along with a handful of other Microsoft partners nationwide in a specialized cloud marketing program with Jeremy Epstein, founder of Never Stop Marketing. "It was very valuable for us. This gave us access to subject-matter experts around how to effectively market your business in the cloud world," Wilson said.

The first tier of the Cloud Champions Club requires three BPOS deals for 75 or more seats total. Partners advance to the second tier with eight deals and 200 or more seats, and to the third tier with 20 deals and at least 500 seats.

Microsoft estimated in September that of the 4,000 partners then registered to sell BPOS in the United States, about 1,200 would qualify for the club if they applied.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 21, 2011


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