An excellent recap of SMBNation 2007

I’d like to share with you what my friend and Microsoft Partner Technology Specialist on the TS2 Team, Charles Van Heusen has to say about SMBNation 2007:

SMBNation 2007 – A Step Forward

There was a lot of concern coming into this years SMBNation Conference in Redmond, Washington this year throughout the Partner Community.    Let me digress…  At the SMBNation 2005 conference, Harry and SMBNation had a break out year with some of the best speakers in the industry at their conference.  The move to the Microsoft Campus and the use of the Executive Briefing Center really kicked up the quality of the event.   In comes Robin Robbins, by far one of the best speakers and industry influencers in the SMB Technology Marketing space I’ve had the privilege to meet.   Robin came in and mesmerized the crowds and sold all of her $1200 marketing kits that she brought with her, which was an overwhelming success for her and the conference.

As you know, when anyone is successful, others are sure to follow and that is what happened last year at the 2006 conference.  It seemed like everyone that was delivering a presentation was trying to sell something  and it came across like a giant infomercial.  Thus the descent amongst the ranks in the attendance this year, and honestly, this was the year they should have attended.   

The pre-event day with Robin Robbins return as well as the sessions hosted by Karl Palachuk, Arlin Sorensen, Erick Simpson, Matt Makowicz, and Stuart (Sorry, I forgot your last name Stuart), hosted a great round of discussions on managed services, selling solutions, and of course, why you should buy their new line of books.

This was the only time attendees were hit up to spend $$ during any sessions and these weren’t actually parts of the conference.  During the sessions, there wasn’t a whisper of services or products to be sold.  Even when attendees asked Jeff Middleton about his Swing Migration products, he deferred them to the booths in the Vendor Fair to discuss products.  This was a definite change in the right direction.

The Vendor Fair area was elbow to elbow again and the support from industry vendors was stronger than ever before. The key players in the Managed Services Space from last year, were there again, such as  ConnectWise, Zenith/Infotech, and Level Platforms.

The part that impressed me most was the attendance turnover, 60% of the attendees were first time attendees, which shows the growth in our market place.  I’m not sure what Harry and the SMBNation team will do next year as far as a venue since the conference seems to be outgrowing the Microsoft Conference Center, but I know that the Microsoft Across America team plans to be there to support it again.

I couldn’t agree more, Charles – the value of SMBNation has become a topic of heated debate since 2006, and really picked up steam in the months leading up to 2007, with past attendees squarely on one side of the fence or the other "is it worth it to go this year, after what we experienced last year?". Well, I congratulate Harry and the team at SMBNation for listening to the feedback and making the decision to bring Arlin Sorensen and Dana Epp in for an "Extreme SMBNation Makeover". In my opinion, and many other attendees I polled during and after the conference, SMBNation 2007 delivered tons of value for its intended audience.

P.S. Charles – tell Fred to set his alarm clock ahead 1/2 hour when you see him next!

Erick Simpson

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Educate, Train & Support

I had an epiphany today during an internal (internal MSPU) marketing meeting. We were discussing our "Educate, Train & Support" philosophy for Partners which we deliver in the following fashion:


  • Books – "The Guide to a Successful Managed Services Practice" and "The Best I.T. Sales & Marketing BOOK EVER!"
  • MSP University – online training delivered via Webinars along with supporting forms, tools and collateral


  • Community Webcasts
  • Live Workshops
  • Industry Events
  • Boot Camps
  • Onsite Consulting


  • Marketing as a Service (MaaS)
  • Collateral as a Service (CaaS)
  • Helpdesk Services
  • CEO Program

And I realized after our meeting that we as Service Providers also follow this same basic philosophy of "Educate, Train and Support" with our clients. Think about it for a second – we educate our clients even before they become our clients as to why they should hire us as their Trusted Advisor, then continue to educate them on new Solutions to reduce their costs, improve their efficiencies and mitigate their business pain and risk. During our relationship, we train our clients in the new technologies and solutions we deliver, and finally we support their businesses proactively, leveraging tools and technology, process and procedure as their Trusted MSP and Advisor.

These parallels, and their realization prompted me to blog. Does this process ring true with your organization? I look forward to your feedback.

Erick Simpson

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