Microsoft Inspire: Tips and Tricks

I realize that going to Microsoft Inspire (formerly known as WPC) can be overwhelming for many people.  From my experience of getting information overload from many people I took the liberty and consolidated a lot of other communications and put this blog together.  Please share it with people also attending this years Inspire conference in Washington, DC, July 9th to July 13th I look forward to seeing you there!

General Inspire Information:


  • First Time Attendees (FTA) will have a FTA purple lanyard – mentors will always help (identified by green lanyards) and you should never hesitate to ask for help or guidance from a mentor.
  • Attire – wear comfortable clothing especially on your feet, given the volume of walking that is required around the conference, is important. Casual business dress is the order of the day, not shorts and trainers, but neither is a suit and tie required. Often attendees are going straight from the conference in the day to evening activities so dressing appropriately for that will save a lot of time.
  • Eating and drinking – this is a marathon not a sprint, so water, water, water – having a good breakfast, and not going overboard on alcohol in the evenings will help to stay the course. Until you have been to Microsoft Inspire you cannot foresee how much energy is required.
  • Always having business cards and a small pen or pencil in your pocket. You never know who you will meet, where – and always being able to pass out a card, and receive one will mean you never miss an opportunity. Writing on the back of the business cards something that will remind you, who the person you met was, where you met etc… will make a difference when you get back to the office and have 100 business cards to follow-up on and no idea who is who.
  • The conference is flooded with opportunity for your partner business. Executives from Enterprise partners and Microsoft are everywhere, Directors, CEO’s and Senior Managers are often ‘in disguise’ in a social environment, so always be aware of what you are saying to whom and who may be listening to your conversation. Much better to always impress than put people off talking to you.
  • A good tip for partners keen to connect with other partners is to attend the events and activities that are aligned to your target audience. You can then see and hear first-hand what those partners are interested in, how they respond to key messages and the Microsoft strategy that aligns to their business. Microsoft Inspire is a great way to understand more about your target partner audience and their strategic goals, which helps you with your pitch as to why they should work with you.
  • Have fun! People buy from people and love to connect with people that are not only professional and capable but great to work with – relationships built at Microsoft Inspire are often very unique and stand the test of time, there’s no better place to build and secure your current and future network, so go for it!

First Time Attendee Activities:   Don’t forget – there are several great opportunities and events for First Time Attendees that can be leveraged as meeting locations – including:

  • An orientation session titled: Planning for Microsoft Inspire 2017, on Sunday, July 9, 2017 from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Be sure to look for more details in the session catalog.
  • An FTA meet up in the Community Hub during the Welcome Reception – Sunday, July 9 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • A workshop session titled: Turning Inspiration into Action: Post-Microsoft Inspire Roadmap, on Thursday, July 13 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
  • First Time Attendees are welcome to sit in section 121 for Vision Keynote (Monday through Wednesday). This is a great way to network with other new First Time Attendees.

IAMCP Information:

IAMCP Events:

IAMCP Raffle:

IAMCP Speakeasy Party  The IAMCP Speakeasy is back at Inspire this July in DC! After a huge success in Toronto last year, where we had over 200 people show up for the event, the Speakeasy is back and we’re planning on 500+ attendees! Make sure you show up at the opening reception on Sunday and follow #IAMCPInspire on Twitter for more details! This is the place to be to kick off Inspire and network with Microsoft and your fellow partners!

Tips from Justin Slagle – PCDM – US SMB&D Covering SW Territory – SoCal, Las Vegas & Hawaii

Make  sure that you block at least 2 hours (if not more) to go through the expo hall.  There are so many valuable partnerships waiting to be formed there.  I highly recommend visiting:

  • Plantronics and Jabra and any other Skype Headset Provider –  You’ll want to have a partnership in place as Skype goes into full swing next fiscal year.
  • StratoGator – This is a partner out of San Diego that has made some incredible dashboards for CSP.  Make sure you visit especially if you are a DIRECT CSP partner!
  • IAMCP – Build out a national partnership program with partners from around the US!
  • Voices for Innovation – Make your voice matter.  VFI is a place where you can help lawmakers understand what is important to you!
  • BitTitan and SkyKick – Find out what kind of programs they will have to help you in FY18!
  • Distribution – Make sure to visit the Distributors so you can talk to them about their FY18 go to market strategy!
  • Go find a golden nugget. There are so many great ISVs out there, but we just don’t know all of them, yet!

Suggested Sessions

Marketing Sessions

Title: Why most technology companies fail when selling to small businesses (and how you can be a success)
Description: Learn what moves small businesses when it comes to marketing & sales, why so many in tech get it wrong, and how you can market to SMB at scale. Includes Q&A session.
When: Tuesday July 11, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: SAL09

Title: 50 smart partner marketing tips in 50 minutes
Description: Leverage the use of marketing to build a successful and productive cloud practice.
When: Wednesday July 12, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: MKT05

Title: Digital marketing helps you engage with buyers earlier
Description: Learn about the proper balance between organic social, paid social, and search engine marketing that makes sense for you.
When: Wednesday July 12, 3:30-4:30 pm
Session code: COM31

Microsoft Dynamics

Title: Creating the Microsoft Dynamics partner of the future: Microsoft partner strategy, plans, and programs to support your success
Description: Learn Microsoft’s partner strategy, plans, and programs to support your success in FY18 and beyond.
When: Monday July 10, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: CE108

Title: Earn customers for life with Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer service
Description: Do you offer a customer service experience that meets rising expectations? In this session, we discuss and demonstrate comprehensive functionality for customer service.
When: Tuesday July 11, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: CE127

Title: Starting a Microsoft Dynamics 365 practice (workshop)
Description: Gain insights and best practices from partners about the solutions that will make you successful.
When: Tuesday July 11, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: CE107

Microsoft Azure

Title: Empowering organizations with Microsoft Azure
Description: Learn about the Microsoft vision for Azure and how it can empower organizations and create business opportunities.
When: Monday July 10, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: CE002

Title: Learn how to design and develop your Microsoft Azure offering (workshop)
Description: Learn actionable insights and concrete methods to develop and design packaged offerings that accelerate customer adoption of both Azure and your services.
When: Wednesday July 12, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: PRAC07w

Title: Key partner success factors for a multi-service cloud practice at scale
Description: Understand the fastest-growing Azure scenarios, plus Microsoft resources available to help accelerate growth and build an Azure-based, managed services business.
When: Wednesday July 12, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: CLSC08n

Enterprise Mobility + Security

Title: Microsoft end-to-end security story
Description: Gain deep understanding of Microsoft cybersecurity capabilities and services.
When: Monday July 10, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: OCC02

Title: Learn how to use Office 365 Secure Score to drive customer security conversations
Description: Learn how you can use Office 365 Secure Score and recently released features to further customer discussions about their security positions.
When: Monday July 10, 1:00-1:30 pm
Session code: OFC33t

Title: Building a successful cybersecurity practice with Microsoft
Description: Gain clear understanding of Microsoft cybersecurity approach and how to engage with us to build unique and differentiated joint solutions, to create an even safer and more secure journey for your customers.
When: Monday July 10, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: OCC01

Title: The Microsoft security strategy
Description: Learn the strategy behind Microsoft’s $1bn per year security R&D investments, and how they align to your customers’ needs. See how the products in the Microsoft portfolio come together to form a set of integrated solutions that you can build business on.
When: Tuesday July 11, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: CE005

Microsoft Windows

Title: Grow your business with Windows 10
Description: Learn about opportunity, profitability, best practices, and how we’re redesigning Windows licensing for the cloud.
When: Tuesday July 11, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: WIN09

Title: Windows in CSP: What’s new, what’s coming, and why you should include Windows in your managed service offerings
Description: Learn about opportunity, profitability, best practices, and how we’re redesigning Windows licensing for the cloud.
When: Wednesday July 12, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: WIN09

Title: New, integrated Office 365 and Windows solution for small and midsize businesses delivers more value, and streamlines CSP managed service offerings
Description: Learn about the new, comprehensive offering that enables you to help organizations be more productive and less vulnerable to security threat.
When: Wednesday July 12, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: WIN16

Microsoft Office 365 

Title: Increase your sales with Office 365 partner readiness
Description: Learn how Office 365 Sales and Technical Readiness helps partners understand the capabilities of the Office 365 Productivity Suite. Targeted at Sellers and Pre-Sales Technical roles, Office 365 Readiness empowers partners to realize the Office 365 opportunity and create long-term customer value.
When: Monday July 10, 1:30-2:00 pm
Session code: OFC32t

Title: Get ready to profit from the growing demand for Office 365 security and compliance capabilities
Description: Learn how Office 365 Advanced Security and Compliance solutions can help you build a more profitable practice, and walk away with practical advice you can act on immediately.
When: Tuesday July 11, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: OFC04

Title: Build modern business solutions on the Office 365 Platform
Description: Learn how the latest Office platform additions—including Teams and new Microsoft Graph capabilities—can enrich your packaged solutions and development practices.
When: Wednesday July 12, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: OFC12

Grow Your Business

Title: Scale your cloud business: New CSP partnership opportunities and engagement models
Description: As cloud services grow, business models converge, and new partnerships develop. Learn how to capture these opportunities while maintaining a solid customer base, get insights regarding successful behaviors around the world, and learn how to engage with Microsoft and other partners to accelerate growth.
When: Monday July 10, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: CLSC01n

Title: Accelerate cloud profitability
Description: Develop and optimize your cloud practice business, and hear insights from successful cloud partners.
When: Tuesday July 11, 1:00-2:00 pm
Session code: PRAC02

Title: The evolution of FastTrack is a whole new engagement model for partners! Learn how you can get involved today
Description: As FastTrack continues to mature to better serve customers, we recognize the important role our partners play. Come learn how FastTrack is evolving to empower partners to drive customer success leveraging the proven FastTrack process, IP and tools.
When: Wednesday July 12, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: OFC13

Title: Learn from a hostage negotiator
Description: You are comfortable with 95% of your day-to-day negotiations. This breakout focuses on the remaining 5%: How to deal with unjustified demands, negotiating under pressure, how to properly deal with stress and fear, how to control unpleasant negotiation partners, how to defend against unfair tactics.
When: Monday July 11, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: SAL05


Title: US01 US General Session: Delivering customer success through digital transformation

Description: Join One Commercial Partner US leaders to hear how we’re enabling our partner ecosystem. Learn from successful partners who are embracing new business models to deliver innovative solutions, increase their profitability, and help customers achieve more.
When: Tuesday, July 11, 4:00 PM-5:00 PM

Session code: US01

Title: Microsoft’s Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE): a single, trusted solution to grow your managed services practice
Description: This session demystifies the Cloud Solution Provider program, and covers the latest enhancements on CSP strategy, roadmap, and licensing.
When: Monday July 10, 2:30-3:30 pm
Session code: OFC02

Title: Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program strategy overview: Hear the latest enhancements that help maximize your profitability with CSP
Description: With SPE—Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security—you can deliver a single solution that empowers staff productivity while enabling organizations to meet security and compliance mandates. Understand the SPE value proposition and new opportunities for your valued-added services.
When: Monday July 10, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: OFC02

Title: Partner-first, today and tomorrow: Building a stronger partnership with Microsoft
Description: Learn about the Microsoft vision for Azure and how it can empower organizations and create business opportunities.
When: Monday July 10, 4:00-5:00 pm
Session code: OCP02

Title: SMB innovation: How to pitch Microsoft’s new solution
Description: In this interactive session, learn how to pitch the value of the exciting, new Microsoft solution targeting small and midsize business customers.
When: Tuesday July 11, 2:30-3:00 pm
Session code: OFC22t

Title: Advanced Support for Partners: Accessible support to help you grow your cloud business
Description: Sitting squarely between MPN Technical Svcs and Premier, ASfP provides cloud support at an accessible price point that helps you be a great ally to your customers & grow your business. A great option for ‘born in the cloud’ partners & those in CSP or expanding into areas like managed services.
When: Wednesday July 12, 2:30-3:00 pm
Session code: EXP33

Reach out to me via What’s App, Twitter or text during the week if you want to connect or need help!