Office 365 has a new sales hook. Indeed, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is making a special Cloud Easy offer to US partners that promote Office 365, Windows Intune and/or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The Cloud Easy promotion, which runs July 1 through Sept. 30, 2012, offers special incentives to cloud customers and their channel partners.
At first glance, the Cloud Easy offer is designed mainly for cloud customers. But take a closer look and you'll see the program offers "money back on all Microsoft products to use towards future purchases, all through your Microsoft partner."
How much can customers save -- and potentially apply to additional purchases through partners? This Cloud Easy Calculator offers some answers.
Make Sure You Inspire Loyalty
But partners take note: Customers can purchase Office 365 components from one partner, and then that customer can leverage the Microsoft subsidy when working with any other Microsoft Office 365 partner. In a Q&A, Microsoft states:
Q: Do I have to use the partner where I purchased the subscription as the payee for our subsidy?
A: No. Customers who receive the partner subsidy funds as part of this promotion may utilize these funds with any eligible partner active in the Microsoft Partner Network for implementation of their Microsoft software, Online Services subscriptions or associated services. If customers do not have an existing relationship with an eligible partner active in the Microsoft Partner Network, they can select from the partner directory on http://pinpoint.microsoft.com.
The key takeaway: Make sure you're showing your value to customers to inspire loyalty.
Overall, I don't know how much new channel business the Cloud Easy incentive will drive. And I do wonder if this is the latest sign of a SaaS pricing war between Office 365 and Google Apps. Either way, this is the only new partner incentives offer for Office 365 currently running in the US, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
Separately, Talkin' Cloud has asked Microsoft for an update on Office 365 Open -- which allows channel partners to manage end customer cloud billing. Microsoft announced Office 365 Open during Worldwide Partner Conference 2012 in July, but we have not heard program specifics since that time.