If you’ve been reselling Microsoft 365 for a while, you might have noticed a few changes in the market last year. The pandemic forced many people to work remotely and many companies are still struggling to come up with new strategies for data security. It’s also forced managed service providers (MSPs) to step up their efforts to satisfy customers.
Now that we’ve turned the page on 2020, you might be wondering if you’re still up to date on all the latest features and services in Microsoft 365.
Alex Laflamme, Sherweb’s Modern Workplace and Microsoft 365 subject matter expert says this is a great time for MSPs to be promoting Microsoft 365, especially Business Premium. We sat down with him recently to learn more about Microsoft 365 tips and opportunities, as well as some lesser-known features you can use to grow your business in 2021.
Please note this interview has been condensed for clarity.
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Microsoft 365 tips and opportunities for resellers
What are the biggest problems end users have with Microsoft 365 these days?
Alex: The biggest problem I would say is getting their money’s worth. They know there’s a hundred different services included, but they’re only using five and they’re very frustrated. They know that all these features; all the dashboards are there, all the bells and whistles are there. They just don’t know how to use, deploy or take advantage of any of them.
What are some of the best Microsoft 365 features you’ve found?
Alex: Most of these little-known features have only been available with Microsoft Business Premium since last April. That’s why a lot of MSPs don’t know about them. But once they do learn what’s available, they’re pretty amazed. I think the main features we can get excited about are the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Shared Computer Activation, upgrading to Windows 10 and Windows Autopilot and Intune.
Are MSPs are doing enough to promote all the features in Microsoft 365 Business Premium?
Alex: MSPs are very interested in talking to their end customers about all these features they may or may not know about. But they’re unsure about how to deploy all of these features, how to manage them and how to promote certain things. Pretty much all MSPs are desperately trying to find resources to scale up, to train their people, to get educated and to find tools to educate end clients. It’s the top priority.
How can MSPs get help?
Alex: I do my best to find all the best resources, the best assets available from Microsoft so I can connect point A to point B for partners. I help them find out where this training is and where those demo environments are. Then they have to go through the process with blood, sweat and tears to learn. I also provide partners with free internal use licenses so they can do the proof of concept internally. By using the product internally, whenever they’re talking to clients they know about fringe cases, little quirks and things like that. That’s been very, very successful.
What’s your favorite feature?
Alex: Shared Computer Activation! I can’t mention it enough, because I always come out the hero. This feature gives users in Microsoft 365 Business Premium access to Remote Desktop Services. Until April of last year, you couldn’t use Office applications with remote desktop unless the user had an Enterprise level license that included ProPlus. This meant users could only install and activate the Office 365 business client on five devices. Luckily, that has changed. It really is the one tip that we can’t emphasize enough because the market right now—working from home, security concerns, etc.—really makes Business Premium shine.
I go on Reddit all the time and half the threads are from partners telling each other, ‘You have to stick with Office 365 E3 if you need to use RDS or a terminal server.’ I can’t be there all the time to say ‘No, it’s already there,’ but at least I can tell our partners about it. Also, just knowing about the upgrade rights to Windows 10 became a paradigm shift. We’re talking about a hardware upgrade, getting the right operating systems from the provider, the right type of licenses. Everything else will be done magically, so to speak. Using Intune and Windows 10 Pro with the Autopilot feature makes the out-of-box experience for the end user completely seamless.
How should MSPs present these features to clients?
Alex: If it’s an existing client, it’s always good to start with the situation they’re facing right now. MSPs can expect clients to be receptive to upgrades and upsells if they start the conversation by talking about value. You have to look at your clients’ pain points: users, data, applications, devices. You have to tell them, ‘If you don’t take care of these four categories and you’re working remotely, you’re at risk.’ And Business Premium is the first SKU that encompasses all of them.
So, since it’s the hero SKU that partners want to promote, having the conversation around ‘What are you doing to manage your users, what are you doing to manage your data, your devices, your applications? If you don’t have the EMS (Enterprise Mobility Suite), those apps could be introducing malware into your environment. But if you have Business Premium, we can enroll just the Enterprise apps so that anything the user does with his personal device that’s work-related is segregated from anything personal.’ Having those conversations in a very granular way with tons and tons of real-life examples pertaining to their business makes it so that end customers tend to say, before the end of the conversation, ‘Okay, let’s do this now. Sign me up. Whatever it is, I want it now. Let’s get this going.’
What kind of profits can MSPs make by promoting these features?
Alex: During our Microsoft consultations at Sherweb, we talk about the bottom line for the partner and how all these scenarios, which promote the best advice for the end client, also give them better incentives and better margins for all these products. Microsoft 365 Business Premium is being heavily promoted by Microsoft right now. There’s an extra 19% that you can get from Microsoft on top of your provider discount when you’re enrolled properly and you follow the guidelines.
We’ve talked a lot about Business Premium. Are there other features in Microsoft 365 that MSPs should know about?
Alex: There’s still quite a few. The unlimited archiving is one that comes to mind. But I’d say that if we stretch the definition of the word “feature” you could say that one thing MSPs should know is that Microsoft 365 is one of the most incentivised licenses on the backend.
Do you think we’ll be seeing other new features for Microsoft 365 in the near future?
Alex: There’s always a million new features in the pipeline, but one great way to find out if a feature you’re looking for is on the horizon, is to take a look at the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.
Here’s what I found:
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As you can see, there are a lot of great ways to convince your clients to make the jump to Microsoft 365, especially Business Premium. Are you ready to put these new sales strategies into action? Our cloud experts can help you reach your business goals. We have the programs and resources you need to grow your business with solid sales strategies, go-to-market expertise and cloud services. Join our partner network to get started!