Microsoft Office 365 is nothing new to the industry. It makes sense to deploy for customers that have different versions of Office floating throughout their 100+ machines. Those that are mindful are annoyed that a new version comes out every three years. Additionally, more costs come into play with yearly licenses for Microsoft Software Assurance, ensuring rollout of updates. Microsoft Office 365 has a small monthly user fee, with the most current version, without a large capital expenditure and without the Software Assurance purchase. The enterprise full Office allows IT to free up, with far less time spent managing, upgrading, account management and licenses especially with turnover, remote office closures and new hires.
TBI partners have been selling Microsoft Office for a few years now, but it produces little margin. Some organizations receive it free through their voice and data plans. But deploying many of its functions and integrating with other apps eats up time and resources. The functions of Office 365 are plentiful, but often overlooked and not rolled out for many reasons including lack of staff, technical expertise or time to develop a strategy and go-to-market plan within the entire company. That’s where a Managed Microsoft Office 365 solution comes into play. VARs and MSPs particularly like selling value added features and benefits to Office 365 as a partner resource helps with as much or as little of a rollout, architecting a solution, deployment strategy, adoption, training, support and maintenance.
Managed value-added solutions from a CSP include:
- Environment assessment and recommendations
- Strategic planning and infrastructure/solution assistance: roadmapping, discuss tools, audit and assess current systems to integrate
- Set up, migration, deployment and support of individual Microsoft Office functions – SharePoint, Lync and Exchange
- Consulting services for unique or custom built requirements
- Integration of 3rd party services
- Dedicated specialist or account manager (perhaps onsite assistance) to discuss and plan around business requirements, update organization with product changes or upgrades, review account, advise, escalations directly to Microsoft Premium Support
- 24/7 support (admin and end-user)
- Systems integration assistance, monitoring, maintenance, real-time troubleshooting, reporting
- End-user adoption and rollout assistance and training
- Other services which could extend to hardware, security, patching and mobile device management
But selling anything cloud is difficult. To effectively articulate the benefits of hosted or managed solutions, it’s important to identify current inefficiencies, understand business problems, customer bottlenecks, possible solutions, and introduce a credible CSP that can design a custom solution. Meaning, no cloud solution is ever really going to be turnkey. But the benefit to starting this conversation could mean lots of money and a potential customer for life. The 365 managed solution conversation is a nice segue into a broader SaaS management conversation.
Discovery Questions to further sell in your cloud portfolio:
- How many applications do you have running and how many vendors do you work with now?
- Which applications make the most sense for clients to take to cloud environment vs those that are user dependent like SQL (when you can’t deploy in the cloud, there’s too much data processing). What are you not moving into the cloud?
- What applications are mission critical, need network prioritization?
- Of mission critical apps and those you’re considering to move off from physical, are you considering seasonality, cyclical spikes or steady workloads?
- Who handles data and app integration?
- What are you doing for DR and backup?
- With your cloud initiatives, how are you planning to handle compliance and security requirements?
These questions lead into network, security, storage and transport and bandwidth needs, assessing how current systems support your applications and business operations today and where are white space opportunities. Only with the right questions, can TBI selling partners become true technology consultants and key influencers, helping to recommend solutions and solve real business problems.
Why should you care?
- With network solutions selling partners can make higher margin.
- There is no waiting around for install, there are no lingering issues once a solution has been selected. You sell it and leave it.
- Stickier solutions lead to greater involvement within the IT environment and will ultimately lead to your organic growth with that customer.
Shift mentality as it’s about solution selling vs product selling, understanding business outcomes. Leverage resources like TBI to understand vendor value propositions, receive training, technical resources and engineering access. Work to gain greater customer context so you can confidently sell your cloud portfolio today.
About the Author
As Director of Marketing at TBI, Cohen is responsible for managing TBI’s marketing communications and implementing multi-channel branding and press strategies. In addition to driving TBI’s overall marketing strategy, Cohen directs both internal and external communications to ensure the delivery of valued products and programs to providers and partners alike. You can contact Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.