Posted by: paragon | April 29, 2008 – Matt Makowicz Blog


Matt Makowicz’s Ambition Consulting Blog

Vista and Partners – better together

April 29th, 2008

There’s been a lot of banter lately about Microsoft execs and other folks “bashing” Vista or other similar complaints that Microsoft is not standing behind their product. 

The way I see it is Microsoft USED to (like with XP) just hold the party line, i.e. it was difficult to get “real” information from them and therefore the Partners complained.

I see that Microsoft employees that work with or present to Partners are being more empathetic.  They are still defending their product (Vista), but acknowledging issues and providing that feedback up and/or down within Microsoft.  This is a good thing!  The folks from Microsoft and Partners are now engaging in real conversations.  Much better than the “party line” of old in my opinion.

Here is a recent article on the subject:

Happy Hunting,

 Matt Makowicz

Graphic design branding for under $500, (not $5,000)

April 27th, 2008

Anyone who has looking into professional graphic design services, knows that a logo design including 1-2 rounds of revisions with 2-3 design choices will cost approximately $3,000 or more.  Add to that another $2,000 to $4,000 for similar services related to stationary such as business cards, letterhead, etc… and a small business can easily spend over $5,000 for a proper branding campaign. 

I am not usually the one who usually finds better value in spending less, but every once in a while, something comes across my desk that changes everything.  I recommend any small business looking for a branding makeover to look at

On this site, one can start a “contest” for a new logo, company stationary, web design layout, etc… There is a modest fee to run a contest ($30-$50) and a monetary prize that is offered to the winner – if a winner is ever chosen.  Minimum prize amounts exist, but are low – such as $150 for a logo and $200 for a website design.  Once the contest begins, which last between 1 and 10 days, freelance designers from all over the world (mostly Europe and Asia) submit entries which the contest holder rates and provides feedback upon.  This feedback encourages designers to try again, make changes to have a better chance of winning the contest, etc…

When all is said and done and the contest is over, there may have been over 50 different unique and professional designs to choose from and an entire branding makeover design could be obtained for under $500!

  • More choices
  • More direct and immediate feedback with designers
  • complete freedom (don’t have to pick a winner if you don’t like any designs)
  • Very professional designs

A win win!   

Happy Hunting,  

Matt Makowicz

Free Audio Book from Erick Simpson!!!

April 8th, 2008

Hello all SMB focused IT providers.  You likely know of my friend, Erick Simpson and MSP University.  He also has some great books and materials to help the SMB consultant and SMB focused IT providers. 

He is giving his downloadable audio book for FREE to anyone who registers for his upcoming webinar THIS Wednesday!  The webinar itself is a good one as it focuses upon AuthAnvil – a fantastic security product from Scorpian software designed for the SMB IT provider.

 So there it is – a great webinar that can help your business, and a free audio book that will help your business.  You have to register for the webinar and complete a survey to get the audio book, ($59 value) and to qualify for a raffle (done during the webinar) for $875 worth of AuthAnvil products.  Register here today!

 Happy hunting!

Microsoft Response Point is “like SBS 4.0″?

April 1st, 2008

Just coming off an exciting weekend at SMB Nation East in NJ, there was a lot of buzz about the Microsoft Response Point telephone system solution.  Some attendees loved it, others didn’t.  In fact, after getting an ‘earful’ from what I consider to be a prominent IT company in the NY area, I took notes on what folks thought about Response Point.  Here goes:

The Not So Great –  

·         No call accounting

·         No provision for any messages or music on hold other than what came with the system

·         No LDAP for Active Directory – must key in all employee names

·         No intercom/paging within phone system (unless use other installed speaker system)

·         1100 contact maximum per user

·         All phones must be on same subnet – i.e. no branch offices

·         No soft phones for telecommuters

·         100 MB mailbox limit (for all user’s mailboxes)

·         Doesn’t integrate outbound with Outlook or CRM (i.e. cannot bring up a contact and click dial)

·         Cannot record a conversation

·         Limited to 2 person (3 party) conference call

While that was an earfull – I also recieved some positive comments from this partner:

·         Seen as SBS 4.0 – i.e. an entry level product not quite there yet with a TON OF POTENTIAL

·         No one else has something like this at this price point (other than maybe Linksys)

·         If MS stays committed to this product, expect great things to come


Here’s what I think –

MS Response Point is NOT a robust, feature heavy, universally applicable phone system for small business – not yet anyway.  If you’re familiar with products such as Avaya IP Office, don’t try to compare head to head the two.  Also, if you know the IP office system, you know that a 5-10 person company will likely spend between $12,000 and $15,000 for it, while response Point will be between $2,000 – $3,000. 

The Good news is that Response Point is a great entry level product that will allow most smaller small business customers to get 80%-100% of what they are looking for in a phone system.  It is also an additional revenue stream for you as a Partner to be more of a one stop shop for your customers.

The Better news is that Microsoft also has a higher end software based solution with Live Communications Server which is very powerful.  It is only a matter of time and version releases before these two products get closer and Microsoft (and more importantly, you as a Partner) will have a robust telephone solution for any small business with any level of need.

The Best news is that we’ve seen what Microsoft does when it wants to enter a market.  They enter with a solution that sounds fantastic but when you look under the hood (or look with hindsight) is all one may have hoped for.  (SBS 4.0).  But the deed is done – Microsoft has entered the market and the product just keeps getting better, and Partners have continually increasing revenue opportunities around the product.

So my advice is to begin.  MS Reponse Point may not be perfect, but it is good enough for millions of customers out there who have a need.  You can keep a potential competitor on the outside by offering your customers a solution.  Then, years from now, when Microsoft’s phone system solutions are like SBS 2003 (unbeatable in the Small Biz market), you’ll proudly state that you have been working with the product from the beginning!  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –    Also consider that almost every phone system provider needs to get into the network support business to survive in the years ahead.  It is a harder road for them to learn network support than for us to learn phone system technologies – so don’t waste the head start you already have.


Happy hunting! 


Matt Makowicz


SBSC Nascar sponsorship page is live!

March 28th, 2008

Here is the URL for the sign up page, including a link on it to view more details on all of the items included in this package:


There is an exclusive code you can obtain if you are an SBSC!!!  


Here’s a chance to get exposure to the 75 million people that watch NASCAR in the USA!  (that’s 1 out of every 4 men, women & children)

Want your company logo on NASCAR?

March 23rd, 2008

Microsoft is partnering with NASCAR to promote the Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) brand, i.e. the ‘blue badge’ AND simultaneously giving an opportunity to SBSC partners to promote their business!For under $4,000, an SBSC can get it’s company logo/name on NASCAR’s #49 car! More details can be found at an exposure opportunity!!!   Happy Hunting!!! 

Important info on SBS 2008

March 21st, 2008

In visiting various user groups and IAMCP chapters accross the US, there has been a lot of confusion and subsequent fear about SBS 2008 user limits.

SBS 2008 will continue to allow up to 75 users.

Essentials will allow from 50-300 users.

Apparantly, there was a marketing slide deck circulating out there incorrectly stating that SBS user limit was dropped to 50 and Essentials user limit was 250.

FYI – hope it helps!

 don’t forget to register for SMB Nation to get a great conference in NJ with a Response Point deep dive code: AMBITION

don’t forget to register for SMB Summit in Dallas for a full day on SBS 2008, a full day on Essentials, and two additional days of business trainings. (register for My and Karl P’s pre day event)

Which “SMB” conference is right for YOUR business?

January 31st, 2008

SMB IT Providers are about to be bombarded with invitations to the 2008 conferences.  This is actually a good thing, in fact a very good thing. 

Choice is good!  It was only 4-5 years ago when the pickings were slim, in fact there was really only one, SMB Nation (  A few years ago, Microsoft took an idea from Harry Brelsford’s playbook and decided to do a pre-day conference to the World Wide Partner conference and the Microsoft Small Business Symposium was born.  (no link yet – this link goes to the 2007 WPC  Then, out West was born a great collaboration of SMB companies and the SMBTN was formed along with the SMB Summit, now in its 4th year (  But that’s not all!  Industry guru Jeff Middleton, creator of the widely popular swing migration, decided to put on a different type of conference and 2008 will see his second conference (  Other organizations, such as the ICCA, are in a resurgence and are having an SMB focused conference in 2008 as well ( 

So many choices!  What is an SMB IT provider to do?  What conference is going to hold the most value?  What conference should you attend?  Most smaller SMB IT providers can usually only budget for one, unless there happens to be another in their backyard.  Even larger players in the SMB space are confused, though deciding what the “deal & feel” for each event will be and trying to determine where to best place their conference budgets.So, for what it’s worth, here is my two cents on the “skinny”, the “deal” and the “feel” of each event.  Of course, because I am focused on helping and training Partners, I will be at all of them – with different content, different focuses, etc.. all aimed with a different attendee in mind. 

So here goes, I hope it proves helpful:In order of the date the conferences occur (you can also check out the for more info):

  • SMB Nation (East) – NY/NJ March – SMB Nation is the original.  The 3rd annual East derivative of this conference with approx 200+ attendees is geared to “sbsers,” IT consultants and SMB IT providers looking to grow their business.  The event in NJ will have business sessions and a ton of info on Microsoft Response Point, which if you haven’t heard, is Microsoft’s phone system for the SMB Market.


  • SMB Summit – Dallas, TX April – the 4th annual conference is shaping up to be a tremendous event.  The focus is two fold for this 4 day conference – the first 2 days are all about Cougar (next version of SBS) & Centro (a mid market version of SBS).  – the last two days are all about business sessions.  One Man shops be warned, a lot of the sessions are geared to IT providers with 3 + employees.  Expect about 500+ partners in attendance.


  • SMB Nation (East)not a typo – in early May, SMB Nation East is in Toronto.  This conference will likely be very similar to the one in NJ with one significant difference – no Response Point (it’s not available in Canada yet).  Our friends in the Great White North don’t get conferences up there too often, especially focused on SMB so I am expecting more than the 200+ attendees than in NY/NJ.  This will be a mostly business focused conference and I’m looking forward to seeing what is all abooot.  (couldn’t help it)


  • SBS Migration – New Orleans – May.  Jeff Middleton is not a fan of the normal power point session lecture style conference.  Expect a lot of interaction learning from experts with experience.  This is an intimate (and fun – hey it’s in New Orleans) hands on conference with from 150+ in attendance.  As an added bonus, after the 3 day conference, expect about 1/3 to 1/2 of the attendees to board the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship for another 5 days of interaction with fellow SMB providers and a daily conference session on the ship.  I was disappointed I missed the inaugural conference last year, and have heard all good things and after extensive conversations with Jeff, I know this will be even better.


  • ICCA – Washington, DC – early June – I am just getting to know this organization and have spoken at some of their Chapter meetings.  The “Independent” part of the name suggests that this conference will be attended by approx 200+ one man shops looking to grow.  The ICCA is serious about its membership so this should be a valuable event.


  • Microsoft Small Business Symposium and WorldWide Partner Conference – Houston, TX, July – this is the big one.  WPC is 3 days preceded by the SB Symposium which is a full day.  While WPC is over $1,000 to attend, the SB Symposium is free to SBSC partners (at least it has been the last 2 years).  WPC will host 15,000 attendees representing 5,000+ partners from around the world.  The SB Symposium reaches the 600-1000 attendee marks.  While some SMB IT providers come in town for the Symposium and then split, I think the WPC is one of the best conferences to attend because you get a chance to see a lot more than you’re used to and meet partners who were small once too… It’s expensive, but I think worth it.  Register early for savings (a good tip for all conferences btw).


General conference tips:

  • Come early stay late – plan on arriving the early part of the day prior to the first day – there is always something valuable going on.  There is also always something fun and valuable the evening after the last session.  (hint – don’t book an early morning flight – 11:00 AM should be the earliest)
  • Plan ahead – get an idea of sessions you don’t want to miss and put them on your calendar with reminders before arriving in town.  You will get engrossed in fantastic conversations with other partners in the “hallways” of the event that you may miss sessions you were looking forward to (most are NOT recorded for later viewing)
  • Get a room mate – this cuts your hotel bill (one of the largest travelling expenses) in half
  • Bring LOTS of business cards and notebook paper – also develop a system and put time in your schedule upon returning from the conference for the follow up you’ll want to do – otherwise your investment will be (at least partially) wasted
  • Listen more than you talk – ask partners questions.  People love to talk about their business.  Be willing to share as well.  These conversations will be the most valuable take a ways upon your return home.

Have fun, safe travels, and I will see you at (one of) the conference!Matt Makowicz“Let Ambition Be Your Mission.”

Rooms filling up for SMB Summit in Dallas in April!

January 24th, 2008

If you’re planning to go to SMB Summit this year in Dallas, GOYA and book your room.  The OMNI Mandalay Hotel, which is a beautiful place normally charges $249 and up for rooms per night but the conference block has rooms for only $149.  So register today for the conference and reserve your room.

Conference registration at

Room reservations at

Good luck and see you in Dallas!

Announcing Open Value Subscription licensing

January 18th, 2008

Microsoft will be launching a program on March 3rd called Open Value Subscription (and yes licences purchased under this program can be part of the Big Easy promotion).

Basically, this is Microsoft’s “lease” program for software.  I will explain the program in terms of a customer buying Office Profesisonal:


via OPEN license – customer pays ~$440 now & gets to USE the license forever, etc…

via OPEN VALUE license – customer pays ~$290 now (which is 1/3 the license + SA cost), $290 in a yr, $290 in 2 years and then ~ $110/yr forever to keep benefits

via OPEN VALUE SUBSCRIPTION – customer pays ~$180/yr forever to keep USE RIGHTS & Benefits

Here are some other goodies:

  1. If the customer has Office Pro already EVEN IF OEM (current version or 1 version back) then the FIRST YEAR payment is only ~$90/license
  2. If the customer starts off with 15 PCs, then within the next year, they add 5 more, they can install software and won’t have to pay for 20 until a full year after the agreement started.  This also works down, if the client looses 5 staff, then on the anniversary date they would now only pay for 10 licenses.  (this is trued up or down annually)
  3. It works out to be ~$10 more per license to make the desktop “Company wide” which will encourage more of Windows upgrade licenses and fewer license violations and less headaches with needed upgrades (or downgrades)
  4. OVS licensing is avail for Office Pro, Office SB, Core CAL, SBS CAL, Windows Upgrade, plus SB Desktop Suite & Desktop Pro Suite

 Microsoft has Partner Lice Meeting sessions to learn more:

  • Jan 10th 9:00-10:30 AM PST
  • Jan 17th 9:00-10:30 AM PST
  • Jan 23rd 8:00-9:30 AM PST
  • Jan 29th 11:00-12:30 AM PST
  • Feb 6th 8:00-9:30 AM PST
  • Feb 14th 9:00-10:30 AM PST
  • Feb 19th 1:00-2:30 AM PST
  • Feb 28th 9:00-10:30 AM PST

Ambition Mission Products

Book’s CDBook Cover  


A guide to selling managed services, faster, easier, & for greater profit by Matt Makowicz

Matt Makowicz’s successful Managed Services Practice has created millions of dollars in recurring revenue. Matt has sold managed services since before the industry had a name for it! Now he is sharing all his secrets to selling managed services! As an MCSE and sales professional Matt unveils his tools, tips, and strategies for sales success.
Matt continues to sell managed services and IT service contracts to small and medium businesses. In addition, Matt now coaches and trains on sales and selling managed services as well as continuing to speak about sales, selling service agreements, and various topics for IT providers to grow their businesses.
He lives in New Jersey with his lovely wife and four children.
Table of contents of „A guide to selling managed services “ 

CD-ROM include with book contains 18 documents, letters, tools and two sample contracts to help jump start your managed services practice!

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