By Eric Martorano
Any partner will tell you that Microsoft Office 365 is a key product in managed services. Customers demand it, and partners like to sell it because of the productivity benefits it delivers. But determining how to make Office 365 profitable is one of the biggest challenges partners face. According to MSPmentor’s 501 Global Edition Study, 70 percent of Office 365 resellers said they feel margin pressure, usually driven by the sheer number of other resellers in the same space selling the same services. This competition leaves many partners unsure of how to differentiate their offerings.
My advice: Incorporate value-added solutions and managed services into Office 365, in addition to what Microsoft provides, and tailor them to the risks and realities customers face doing business today.
For example, the increasing popularity of freelance and contract workers, combined with the trend of flexible work hours, has changed the structure of a typical office — now, it’s common to have at least part of the workforce offsite. With mobility in high demand, customers are looking for easy access to data from any device, with all of their files available 100 percent of the time. Plus, the amount of intellectual property contained in email (through conversations, negotiations and attachments) continues to increase, and security threats including ransomware are on the rise.
As if this weren’t enough, for companies in vertical industries, compliance regulations also impose mandates that require additional security measures on communication and collaboration services. These intricacies offer a unique opportunity for partners to create customized Office 365 offerings.
Below are some add-ons partners should consider selling alongside Office 365 to achieve these goals and increase overall profitability:
Partners must be able to adapt to the changing needs of their customers and offer additional services that not only support their customers’ growth, but their own growth as well. When we asked in a Buyer Persona study if adding complementary add-on services increased their profitability, nearly three in four (73 percent) solution providers selling Office 365 confirmed that it did. Even more, by embracing a white-label model and selling these add-on services under their own names, partners can bring an additional layer of value, while distinguishing themselves from both their partner competitors and giants like Microsoft.
These are just a few of the ways that partners can differentiate themselves from other vendors today. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that requirements are always changing. Beyond the services they sell, a key component to a partner’s value lies in the ability to anticipate and respond to the factors that inevitably shape a successful business.
Eric Martorano is responsible for Intermedia‘s global sales and strategic partnerships. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Martorano has deep expertise in working closely and strategically with a range of customers and partners, and a passion for customer and partner success. Prior to Intermedia, Martorano spent over eight years at Microsoft, most recently as general manager of U.S. channel sales.