September 2012

10th Annual SMB Nation Fall Conference

10th Annual SMB Nation Fall IT Conference to Focus on “Life After SBS”

By: Joseph Walker, Contributing Writer for SMB Nation

SMB Nation is taking conference attendees “Back to the Future” with its SMB Nation 2012 Fall Conference from October 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV, at the Rio. This year’s 10th anniversary conference will examine the new technologies transforming the SMB channel, including Windows 8 and Server 2012, cloud computing and virtualization, mobile computing, and both hybrid and on-premises infrastructure. The conference will also include both a business and technical roadmap on how VARs, MSPs, and IT consultants can embrace the new post-Small Business Server reality.

Beyond keynote addresses from CompTIA, Microsoft, Intel, and StorageCraft, conference attendees have the option of focusing on one of three content tracks: the Geek Speak, Business, or Community track.

The Geek Speak track contains highly technical content with a focus on Windows 8, Server 2012, cloud computing, mobility, security, BYOD, and virtualization. Sessions take a variety of formats, including traditional presentations, expert panels, and free-form technical discussion forums that bring together attendees, subject matter experts and Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (MVPs). Specific session topics include a deep dive into Windows 8, troubleshooting Office 365 deployments and SMB mobility technology trends. The topics of this year’s technical sessions were determined by a poll of SMB Nation readers.

Microsoft MVP Jeff Middleton’s session—Beyond SBS: The Future of Skill Based IT Pro Consulting—has received a high level of attention from registered conference-goers. In summarizing his session, Middleton explains:

The question isn’t who is going to survive; it’s who is going to thrive. For the past 20 years, IT pros lifted small businesses into a level expectation for technical excellence. Diverse technical skill and the obscure ability to integrate and define unique product solution sets for customers was the key. Is that skill-based opportunity gone, or did you just get lazy? What is the future, what’s changed, and are you still in the game?”

Middleton will team up with several other IT gurus in a deep dive discussion of the core technologies, critical skills and service strategies that will define the next generation of successful IT pros in what promises to be a highly technical session with a strong dose of business reality.

The conference’s Business track focuses primarily on sales, marketing and businesses opportunities in the SMB IT sector. Specific session titles include Fast-Fast Marketing for MSPs, Financial Management Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential, and Growing a Profitable Service Desk. Harry Brelsford will also kick off SMB Nation’s new Pocket MBA program at this year’s conference. Attendees who enroll as charter students in the Pocket MBA (MSP major) program will have all of their conference fees waived.

Numerous registered conference attendees have expressed interest in Todd Colbeck’s Sales Training 101: Making Friends with Your Prospect. Colbeck is the principal and founder of the Colbeck Coaching Group and has individually trained hundreds of business owners and professionals. His session explains how the first step in making a sale is making a friend. His session description goes on to say:

Think how much easier getting to a sale is if you have already built a great relationship with the prospect. Think of how challenging making a sale is if you have little or no relationship with the prospect. This course will reveal step by step how to make a friend with the prospect in the first 5 minutes. Trying to close a sale without taking this critical step is like cracking a walnut with your fingers. Anybody who tells you the key to selling is ABC (Always Be Closing) is working much harder than they have to. Selling to a “friend” is much easier and much more fun!”

The course will include information on how to put people in a good mood in a minute or less, three questions IT pros should always ask before presenting their product or service, how to get simple commitments upfront (that lead to bigger commitments at the close) and how to build virtually instant rapport with clients, vendors, and staff alike.

The conference’s community track is geared toward channel members who want to network with their colleagues, understand recent developments and trends in the broader SMB technology industry, and explore potential relationships with established IT vendors, such as Microsoft and Dell. This track features a number of SMB Nation community sponsors who will make educational presentations on such topics as business continuity, cloud storage and backup, virtualization and cyber security.

“The great thing about SMB Nation is that it can be all things for all people,” said Harry Brelsford, founder and chairman of SMB Nation. “This year’s conference has top quality technical, business and community content. But I’m especially excited about the business development opportunities. The business community is pushing IT to move beyond the role of mere solution providers. They need IT consultants who can take the initiative in developing and integrating solutions that enhance efficiency and productivity. The conference’s business track and Pocket MBA program will show IT pros how to fill that role.”

In addition to the conference’s main weekend sessions, a variety of speakers will offer pre-day events on Thursday, October 11. Alex Rogers, president and founder of CharTec, will present How to Differentiate Your IT Offering. Ginger Clay of CompTIA will host CompTIA Quick Start Guide to Social Media for Marketing. And a group of industry experts will deliver a session on disaster recovery focusing on StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect platform.

Conference Summary:

  • Audience: IT Pros, In-house It experts, SMB channel partners, consultants, techs, geeks, MVPs and resellers
  • Sessions: channel partnerships, mobility, Windows/Windows Server 8, SBS, Pocket MBA, marketing, business strategy, BYOD, cloud computing, virtualization
  • Dates: October 12-14, 2012
  • Location: Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV

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