At the start of the Olympics, athletes in every sport are unified by one goal: going for the gold. The medal (along with silver and bronze) designates those athletes as the best in the world at what they do. Microsoft has a similar system designed to highlight superior partners: Competencies.
It requires fewer sessions in the gym but the meaning is the same. Partners receive Silver and Gold competencies as a mark of exceptional work. To dive deeper into Microsoft competencies and gain an insider’s view, we spoke with Gharun Hester, a Senior Partner Development Manager at Microsoft.
How Microsoft Competencies Work
Competencies single out the Microsoft partners who make extra efforts to educate employees and surpass client expectations. Partners can identify areas for competencies like Communications or Cloud Business Applications.
Currently, Nortec has 8 Gold and 2 Silver competencies, an achievement Hester described as “fantastic.” When partners want a Gold or Silver competency, they first receive educational material. The partner then needs to prove knowledge of the subject and the ability to deliver solutions to clients. This can be done through exams and certifications or by meeting stringent performance goals. Additionally, customer references must be submitted and approved by Microsoft. Silver competencies usually require 3 testimonials, while a partner needs 5 references to attain Gold.
Only a small percentage of the most capable and engaged partners achieve Gold. Hester explained people overwhelmingly find the distinction valuable. In a survey, 77% of customers associated Gold with high quality and 73% related it to trustworthiness.
This isn’t only perceived value; the competency system prioritizes the client. Obtaining Silver and/or Gold competencies requires continually learning the ins and outs of Microsoft’s new products and closely following trends in the technology industry. Microsoft awards competencies after partners have proven the ability to consistently turn what they’ve learned into solutions for clients. The partner needs to maintain this high level of service to retain Silver or Gold status.
Microsoft Competencies Demonstrate Value
Microsoft differentiates partners by focusing on experience, capability and the ability to deliver a good experience to businesses and organizations. The competency structure encapsulates these values and is a way for partners to understand what they need to do to separate themselves from one another.
“Nortec’s commitment to people, culture and development is exactly what we look for in outstanding partners,” Hester stated. “For years, Nortec has consistently demonstrated the ability to deliver high-quality, expert support to clients while continually evolving internally to stay on top of the latest technology trends.”
Hester went on to explain that businesses who choose to deeply invest in competencies and maintain their status are the most successful. Partners who acquire multiple Golds in different areas truly stand out from the rest of the pack.
No Participation Trophies
Microsoft consistently applies the requirements and does not award competencies to any partner who applies. It is not a participation trophy and requires continuous investment. Hester said that Microsoft looks to see how partners evolve over time. Even after achieving a competency Microsoft ensures they are delivering their sales, services and core business to their clients every year.
Dedicated, personal support from Microsoft is not automatic. Partner development managers are only assigned if Microsoft feels the vendor has demonstrated proficiency in delivering Microsoft’s tech stack to clients.
Benefits to Our Clients
Having Hester as our dedicated partner manager is an incredibly valuable resource for our clients because we can escalate issues on their behalf.
These deep inroads into Microsoft mean our team can access more resources and capabilities. We have insights into new innovations, making it easier to roadmap information, help during whiteboarding sessions, implement end-of-support solutions or access funding for implementation of new projects.
Nortec’s Microsoft Competencies