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June 15, 2011
Google Chromebooks officially debut today (June 15). Google is preparing some sort of partner program to help promote Chromebooks for Business into the channel. But in the meantime, MSPmentor sees at least four potential ways MSPs can indirectly profit from Chromebooks. Here they are…
1. Think About the Larger Conversation: Google and its Chromebook partners (Acer, Samsung, Amazon and BestBuy) will spend a ton of money promoting Chromebooks. I’ve already seen online ads. And I suspect we’ll even see print advertisements in Sunday newspapers soon.
Already, Microsoft’s “To the Cloud” television advertisements have stirred consumer mind share for cloud computing. I think Google Chromebooks will stir even more conversation. In short: Customers will start asking MSPs about Chromebooks within the next six months… if not sooner.
That doesn’t mean all customers actually want to buy Chromebooks. Some of those customers will merely be asking for an informed opinion about Google’s cloud strategy and the potential implications for SMB customers.
When customers ask about Chromebooks and Google, take a tip from TruMethods CEO Gary Pica. His standard reply to unsolicited customers questions: “Why do you ask?”
That simple question can help you to re-frame the conversation… and discover the customer’s true need or pain point:
Is the customer seeking mobility solutions?
A hardware refresh from old Windows XP systems?
iPad vs. Chromebook information?
Once you discover the customers’ deeper questions you’re in better position to offer recommendations.
2. Think Total Engagements: During the recent TruMethods Schnizzfest conference, multiple MSPs described how they no longer offer per-user pricing, and they certainly don’t offer itemized pricing (for spam filtering, anti-virus, remote monitoring, etc.). Instead the best MSPs offer a top-tier fixed prices for a complete engagement.
If low-cost Chromebooks become part of the SMB solution, some MSPs worry they’ll face even smaller margins. After all, the Chromebook for Business effort (Google’s hardware as a service strategy) will cost only $28 per user per month in business, and $20 per user per month in academic settings. Surely, there won’t be much margin in that cost structure for MSPs and VARs.
But think of the Chromebook for Business pricing in another way: If basic hardware costs continue to fall, SMB customers could have more money to spend on total IT solutions — including help desk and NOC (network operations center) services.
3. Think Leasing, Financing and HaaS: Explain to your customers that Google’s ultimate goal is to give customers a single monthly bill for all Chromebook hardware and software. Then, explain that you offer similar services — total IT at a predictable cost. The big difference: You’re a local business with local support. You’re uniquely qualified to include HaaS (hardware as a service) to your local customers.
4. Think Scripting: Roughly 25 percent of top cloud VARs and cloud MSPs now offer Google Apps to their end customers, according to the Talkin’ Cloud 50 report (which debuted June 14). Google Apps only costs about $50 per user per year, with $10 per user per year flowing back to the VAR or MSP. That’s not much money.
But take a look at the Google Apps Marketplace and Google Apps Script. Admittedly, many MSPs lack in-house software development skills. But a growing number of MSPs are learning some simple Google Apps Script techniques to piece together multiple Google Apps for their end-customers. That’s a big value-added service for customers, whether they run Google Apps on Chromebooks or elsewhere.
You’ll notice: The tips above don’t specifically focus on reselling Google Chromebooks. Instead, they focus on profiting from customers who inquire about Google, Microsoft and other major vendor cloud strategies. Instead of reacting to customer inquiries it’s time for MSPs to lead the conversation.
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