I’ve waited a while before blogging on the recently held Westcoast Small Business Forum. Susanne and the rest of the Westcoast team did a great job in engaging with the Small Business Partners in an open and honest way. There were some really interesting discussions, particularly in the pre-event roundtable where Westcoast’s Chairman, Joe Hemani, and MD, Duncan Forsyth, participated. There were two ideas which I think could really benefit SBSC Partners, Westcoast and Microsoft (…and anyone else who gets involved).

The first idea was around building a community/buying group with Westcoast so that the SBS Community could use its collective strength to get more competitive pricing. Now, I’m not going to speak on behalf of Westcoast and say they definitely committed to doing this but there seemed to be a real willingness to look at this idea seriously. I know sometimes that in the excitement and energy of the moment everything seems possible but when you get back into the day to day business, momentum can be lost. What I would say is that if Westcoast are willing to support us in this way then we as SBSC Partners should be willing to step up to the plate as well.

The other discussion area was engaging in end customer focused events and something I’m very keen on. There doesn’t seem to be the enthusiasm on the Microsoft side for this with the usual arguments that it’s far too expensive, doesn’t get the reach of online campaigns and partners don’t engage. There is a talk of ROI on events but Microsoft recently spent a considerable amount of money on some high profile Startup Business Events with high profile speakers such as Rachel Elnaugh and others. Were SBSC Partners linked in with this? What was the ROI on these events as many participants were pre-start businesses who felt that engaging with a Microsoft Business Partner was not appropriate for them. Also, Emma Richardson of Microsoft said that end user satisfaction with Microsoft had dropped significantly recently. There is nothing like engaging face to face with potential customers in regional events showing that Microsoft and its network of qualified partners are able to serve the needs of Small Businesses. This is something that I’m going to keep pushing on and to say to Microsoft to work with those proactive Partners who are willing to support such activities. I don’t really want to know what we can’t do but what we can do.

Technorati Tags: