Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy is positioning itself to drive more sales to the SOHO and SMB markets by having its small business experts become Microsoft Certified Professionals.

Three hundred Best Buy for Business small business experts have achieved the certification to date, and the company’s goal is 900 by December, Best Buy and Microsoft announced May 18. Best Buy For Business solution centers, found in about 115 of Best Buy’s 940 North American outlets, are “stores within a store” catering to small business customers.

All Best Buy Business Technology Specialists and field-based Business Technology Consultants, as well as the chain’s 12,000 field services agents—the well-known Geek Squad—are required to pass the MCP exam that covers Windows Small Business Server 2003 by December, the store said.

At the district level, some agents are required to achieve an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certification.

Lenovo aims to be a bargain for SMBs, with shelf space in Best Buy retail outlets. Click here to read more.

Best Buy expects the training to drive sales to customers who have small but increasingly complex IT needs, the company said in a prepared statement.

“What our customers have said is, ‘I know you know about computers, but what do you know about my business, about my needs as a business?’” said Hillary Metz, customer solutions manager for BBFB, based in Minneapolis, Minn. “We train our staff on the technology needs associated with small businesses.”

Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Wash., said it hopes Best Buy’s effort will drive sales in a market it says will eventually be driven upward to partners as their IT needs grow. According to Microsoft, 45 percent of the SOHO (small office/home office) market procures PCs from retail outlets and 22 percent buys productivity applications, such as server software, from the same.

“These are customers who are already turning to the retail channel for their needs,” said Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning. “They’re not dealing with business partners … By enabling the retail channel to better serve the needs of those small businesses it will raise the knowledge and usage by all. If we see greater adoption and use, the channel will see more business.”