A Microsoft Partner's Inside Tips for Selling Windows Intune
- By Scott Bekker
- October 18, 2011
- Read the related article, "Microsoft Releases Second 'Wave' of Windows Intune," here.
Lead with pain points, not the Windows Intune brand. Leverage Windows Intune to help SMBs upgrade to Windows 7. Pair Windows Intune sales with Office 365. Look for business incentive fund (BIF) opportunities.
Those were some of the key pieces of advice from Christopher Hertz, CEO of New Signature, a Microsoft partner based in Washington, D.C., for selling Windows Intune, Microsoft's cloud-based systems management and security product. Microsoft posted a recorded conversation between Hertz and Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, on Monday to mark the arrival of an updated version of Windows Intune.
Hertz, whose firm has five gold competencies and 10 silver competencies in the Microsoft Partner Network and has seen 40 percent year-over-year revenue growth, said New Signature originally ran into trouble selling Windows Intune. Few customers have heard of the brand, and the overall feature set is too broad for most situations.
"You don't necessarily want to come in and say, 'Windows Intune, this is what you need right now.' You really want to address pain points that the customer is feeling, and start looking at the solution not as everything that Windows Intune can do and pitch that entirety -- it's an overwhelming message for some customers," Hertz said.
"When we first started and we tried to sell Windows Intune, that wasn't as successful. What made it successful is when we started coming in and crafting the delivery of the solution to the pain points that the customer was feeling," he said.
A few scenarios among New Signature customers that have matched up with Windows Intune's features include:
- Needing better visibility into the health of their networks.
- Lacking up-to-date anti-virus software.
- Wanting to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 with minimal licensing headaches.
- Looking to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 7 Enterprise for BitLocker or other Enterprise edition-only features.
That Microsoft has put more marketing muscle behind Office 365 means, for Hertz, that the best way to introduce customers to Windows Intune is often in a cloud computing conversation prompted by customer interest in Office 365.
According to Hertz, bringing Windows Intune into the Office 365 conversation works for New Signature and the customer. "We see it as a double play," he said of the product combination.
For customers, the cloud computing conversation means they're already thinking about removing complexity from their environment by starting to outsource some infrastructure to the cloud, which applies to Intune as much as it does to Office 365, Hertz said.
"In terms of how we [the partner] actually win there, if you're deploying both Microsoft Office 365 and Intune at the same time, and you're charging the same amount, you're going to see some efficiencies there from that scope and that scale. So being able to come in there and actually deploy both at the same time really helps to add value and margins to your process," Hertz said.
Roskill expanded on Hertz' point by referring to the monthly Partner of Record fees that both Microsoft cloud products generate: "For the same effort expenditure, you're getting both the $12 and $6 on Intune as well as Office 365, and so, upside is there."
Hertz agreed, but with a wrinkle that suggested another source of money might be more important to New Signature than those Partner of Record fees.
"The Partner of Record fees don't hurt, and where you can get other funds around BIF or other opportunities, that's great as well," Hertz said in reference to the business incentive funds that often come with cloud deals.
The entire 7:40 conversation is available on Roskill's blog.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.