If you want to learn the best way to be successful with Office 365 after Google — who do you listen to? If you say CEOs who have actually been through the process, I’m with you. Business leaders from around the globe have been sharing their first-hand experiences and advice with me. I’m excited to share those learnings with you.
Over the past several months I have spoken with CEOs who have shifted from Google to Microsoft offerings, or added Microsoft to a Google lineup. These CEOs were honest — sometimes brutally so —about what it takes to succeed in cloud services, what they see as the real differences between Google and Microsoft, how to boost margins, and where the next cloud opportunities are (hint: it’s not email migration).
If you’re considering adding or shifting to Microsoft solutions, here are the top four reasons they gave me for making the move and their tips for doing it right:
#1: Follow the money
Caase.com CEO Victor Leurs went all-in with the cloud in 2009, becoming the first and largest Google partner in the Netherlands. When Microsoft introduced Office 365, Leurs saw the market shift to Microsoft, and he followed it, selling both products. By 2014, he saw his Microsoft business growing at double digits—and his Google business stagnant. Customers, especially enterprise customers, wanted a cloud solution consistent with their existing IT. Leurs had invested $2.5 million in his Google practice but switched his sales in November 2014 to focus exclusively on Microsoft.
CEO tip: Partner with the local Microsoft sales people. “They’re bringing us leads, they’re bringing us deals,” says Leurs. “We’re really partnering on the deals, and that’s quite different from Google because with Google, we had to do everything on our own.”
#2: Leverage Microsoft’s well-established market
BetterCloud is a fast-growing ISV that made its reputation with a highly regarded IT management and security suite for Google Apps. So what’s it doing with a suite for Office 365? Said founder and CEO David Politis: “In order to increase our addressable market, we decided to build a product for Office 365. We launched our product in mid-February. [Five months later], we have 2,000 or so companies that use Office 365 using our product. It’s opened up a world that we can address and serve.”
CEO tip: “We realized we needed a separate practice [for Office 365],” says Politis. “We needed a separate set of developers [and] a separate business development function to work with Microsoft. It’s very different — it’s a larger, more established ecosystem. To successfully navigate it, we needed a dedicated team.”
#3: Boost your margins
Think your margins on Office 365 will be lower than on Google offerings? Think again. Mauricio Fernandes, CEO of Dedalus, says, “The profitability of Office 365 should be much better than Google. There are a lot of reasons. There’s a lot of opportunity to include services and… customers that usually buy Microsoft need services. It’s much easier to offer our services with Office 365 than Google.”
When measuring your margins, be sure to look at the total dollar, not just the percentage. NeoNova’s CEO Raymond Carey said that even when his company sets similar margins on Office 365 and Google services, it does better with Office 365 because it’s on “a higher dollar.” His Google range is $10 to $40 per seat. For Office 365, it’s $10 to more than $100 per seat — 150 percent higher.
CEO tip: Take advantage of the full range of the Microsoft offering to increase both your revenues and your margins. Leurs of Caase.com said “for us, it’s easier to earn money with Microsoft” because of all the services opportunities around OneDrive, SharePoint Online, and apps.
#4: Take advantage of the partner ecosystem
The #1 downloaded app on Google Marketplace — Insightly CRM — launched on Office 365 in January 2014 “to get in front of what we saw as a significant shift in the market to Office 365,” according to Anthony Smith, CEO at Insightly. Now, Smith sees his business continuing to grow rapidly on Office 365. To achieve that, Insightly developed an entirely new go-to-market strategy, one that takes advantage of the unique strengths of the Microsoft partner ecosystem.
CEO tip: You don’t need to go it alone. “We’ve been sure to have a deep engagement with the Microsoft partner ecosystem,” says Smith. “That’s enabled us to identify opportunities to sell Office 365 and Insightly through longtime Microsoft SMB resellers. Working with Microsoft channel partners will allow us to scale our business very quickly.”
Want to know more from these top CEOs? Check out Caase.com’s story, Dedalus’ story, and NeoNova’s story.
Each of these partners has discovered the Microsoft Advantage. Maybe it’s time you did too.
Are you experiencing strong momentum with Office 365 over your Google business? Share your stories and best practices with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.