We don’t have to tell you that the market to resell Office 365 is pretty hot right now. If you’re a value-added reseller (VAR) or a managed service provider (MSP), you’re probably chomping at the bit to go to market and resell Microsoft’s most popular product. Do you have a plan? Will you strike out on your own or look for a reliable cloud provider to work with? It’s a tough call.
To help you sort through the pros and cons, we’ve put together a six-point guide that will show you exactly what to look for when you’re trying to choose a cloud provider for Office 365.
1. Your provider is focused on the cloud.
You have to look for a provider that is both a cloud specialist and an expert in Microsoft technology. Experienced cloud providers will be more involved in your business and will understand your customers' unique requirements. In the end, this will make your life a lot easier. In a previous blog, we talked about traditional hardware distributors like Ingram Micro and TechData that are struggling to deliver cloud solutions for their partners. It’s just not their core business model. An organization that sells hardware and deals in one-time transactions doesn’t really have the background to understand your cloud business.
2. They offer flexible reselling models.
There are probably hundreds of contract details you’ll have to plow through when you start comparing Office 365 reselling models. But, ultimately, it all boils down to three main components: technical support, migration and billing. If you’re just starting out with Office 365, you’ll want to know which of these services your cloud provider offers and how it can help you go to market faster. SherWeb, a leading cloud solutions provider, offers three distinct business models under Partners First, its partner program: white-label reseller, co-branded and advisor. This means you have the flexibility to choose whether you want to outsource support, migration and/or billing as individual components.
3. Your provider has high marks for technical support.
When you choose a cloud provider, you want to be sure you’re getting the best technical support available. If your client needs help for Office 365 on a Sunday morning, or even on New Year’s Eve, you want to be sure he or she can get it. While some big companies offer a great online knowledge base and help site, it’s pretty hard to get a real person to answer the phone. Make sure your provider offers free support 24/7/365 for every client, not just the managed services accounts. You should know where the support team is located. You should also have several options to reach the team, such as phone, email or chat. Response time is also critical. Some providers make a point of answering telephone support calls in 40 seconds. And, if it's any good, your provider should be able to resolve most support tickets within one business day. You might even try asking about the provider's Net Promoter Score. This number measures customers' overall satisfaction with a company’s service, which, in this case, is technical support. It might be worth it to see how your provider stacks up!
4. You'll get complete migration and onboarding services.
Migration is an important issue for a lot of clients. As an Office 365 reseller, you want to know if you have to do it yourself or if the cloud provider will help. A lot of customers are nervous about migrating their data to Office 365, especially email. They worry about losing archived email from their desktops, or they think their email services will be down for several days during the transition. Some providers have a dedicated team of experts that will guarantee seamless migration and onboarding for free as part of their service. Still, there are other providers who will migrate your data and charge you for it. And they might also charge you for the migration tools. So, ask a lot of questions. You want to be sure you’re getting the help you need.
5. You get sales and marketing support, not just a pile of documents.
So, you’re interested in reselling Office 365, but you need more information. Look for a cloud provider that offers free, unlimited access to solution specialists as part of its program. Some partners have a whole team of experts that will show you different ways to grow your business. These include Office 365 business specialists who will teach you how to market your offering and close sales faster. You should also look for providers that offer webinars and workshops to develop new skills and help you learn about different kinds of markets for Office 365. And, you want to be sure your provider has a wide range of white-label documents that will help you go to market faster with Office 365.
6. Your provider offers honest margins.
Let’s face it: You’re in this business to make profits. But, be careful. Read the fine print in your partner program’s business model, and make sure you really understand the margins, spending thresholds and monthly fees. Some providers will try to lure you in with a percentage profit margin on all Office 365 sales. Make sure to compare these margins with the provider’s sales price. The best way to do this is to get their price list and compare it with what you’re paying to buy its solution.
Signing up to a partner program gives you more than just a price list. You can take advantage of sales and marketing documents, special training, promotions and more.
Want to know more about SherWeb’s Partners First program and how it can help you grow your business for Office 365? Read about it here.