The Microsoft Small Business Specialist certification is designed to show that a company has proven experiencing in designing and implementing IT solutions for small businesses. It gives the company benefits that are only available to certified small business specialists including additional technical and sales support.
To gain the Small Business Specialist certification the company must first be a Microsoft partner. This can be either a registered partner or a Microsoft Certified Partner. Each has its own entry requirements that can be found on the Microsoft website. The company must also take a Microsoft Action Pack subscription and pass a Sales and marketing skills assessment. This is a small test that is taken online to verify that the applicant has the necessary knowledge to be able to sell appropriate IT solutions to small businesses.
The last requirement is that the company employs someone who has passed one of the required Microsoft technical exams. The most common exam to take is the Small Business server exam. Before switching to the 2008 exams this was the 70-282 Planning, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for the Small and Medium-Sized Business. With the 2008 exams you can now take the Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuring certification.
When the requirements have been met you have access to several benefits including partner logos and specialist support. This gives you access to another level of support which includes 5 free incidents a year. There is also an active online community which you gain access to, this is helpful for resolving difficult technical issues and for getting help on selling solutions to small businesses.