Earlier this month, Microsoft Partner Sales Executive, Justin Slagle, wrote a great article with a simple message: “You should stop pitching Office 365!” No, Justin has not gone rogue. He is trying to teach his partners a valuable lesson about differentiation. Office 365 has become a household name among businesses small and large and enjoys a dominant position in the market. On the surface this seems like a good thing for Microsoft partners but this actually creates several problems for resellers:
- Even though Microsoft has done a good job of carving out opportunities to add value to Office 365 for partners, they still sell it directly on their web site and through Enterprise Agreements. Customers can and will buy direct if they aren’t educated on the value of working with a partner.
- Tens of thousands Microsoft partners sell Office 365 today, making the competition for customers a lot more stiff than it was just a couple of years ago.
- Some of the early service offerings partners used to add value to Office 365, like data migration, have themselves become more competitive and commoditized.
If you’re an Office 365 reseller and you don’t have ways to deal with these challenges, there is a good chance your business will fail. So what is a partner supposed to do to differentiate their version of Office 365? Justin and Microsoft recommend creating and bundling in your own packaged intellectual property. This is an excellent option for partners that count application development and content creation among their core strengths. But what if you’re one of the many partners that does not possess those areas of expertise? We will explore some options in part two of this series “Packaged IP Is Not For Every Partner” which is coming in just a few days.