Don’t say “can’t” when you mean “won’t”


When I present the Office 365 opportunity to IT resellers I typically show them the above slide which provides an overview of the major Office 365 suites and services that they contain.

I them ask them what is the most typical Office 365 suite they sell and is sold in overall in SMB. The answers is generally always Office 365 Business Premium. I then ask why that is? The response is that it is the cheapest way to get hosted email and the latest version of Office applications on the desktop.

I then suggest that instead of Business Premium they should be focused on only presenting the top of the range suite, E5, to all their customers as the starting point of any discussions about Office 365. It is at this point that I am greeted with the complete range of negative responses, from incredulity to outright hostility. At least I have you attention eh?

When pushed, most resellers retort that their customers “would never” pay for E5 over Business Premium. The reason sighted for that is purely based on price. My response is that ANYTIME you get push back from customers in regards to the price of a product, including Office 365 E5, it is because the seller has failed. They have failed to show the customer the value the E5 suite holds.

You then typically hear how resellers “know” their customers will never pay the extra for the E5 suite. Are you sure about that or just making assumptions based on your own prejudices? People will only ask for what they know, if they don’t know there is something better they won’t for it will they now? They haven’t been educated in what the full range of Office 365 plans offers so how will they “know” to ask for things like unlimited inboxes, unlimited personal file storage, legal hold, information rights management, customer lockbox, etc., etc.?. It’s not the customer’s job to know the product range and details, that’s the role the reseller should play.

So, the reason customers aren’t asking for the E5 suite is probably because they don’t even know that it exists or what it includes. Again, the responsibility falls to the reseller not to “guess” what the customer wants but to “show” them the what’s available and how different options may suit their needs. Showing them may in fact open their minds to opportunities in their business. It may show them how to solves a challenge or concern in their business today. But how the hell will they ever see that if it isn’t shown to them? They are being deprived of choice because a reseller “thinks” they understand what their customers want.

However, on the other hand, being able to demonstrate the benefits of the E5 plans means the reseller has to actually invest the time and firstly learn what the plan includes and then how those options help solve business needs. “Oh, I can’t do that”, is the typical response, “I don’t have enough time to dig into that” or “I don’t know where the information for that would be” or a variety of other lame excuses.

It comes down to saying “can’t” when you really mean “won’t”. It means you “won’t” tell customers about the value Office 365 E5 provides because you don’t know it yourself. It means that you “won’t” because you aren’t prepared to invest the time to learn about the benefits the E5 provides. It means you “won’t” try doing something different. It means you “won’t” focus on value rather than price. It means you “won’t” help give your customers the best solutions for their business. It means you “won’t” because you don’t want to invest the proposal process.

What do resellers have to lose by focusing on E5 and presenting this to customers? If you learn about E5 you learn the full suite of Office 365 services because every other suite is simply a subset of this one. E5 provides over twice the number of services that Business Premium provides. That means additional services you can enable, configure and bill for as a reseller.

Another benefit of focusing on E5 for customers is that if you have your business value proposals down and the majority of customers agree with you and go E5, but that one customer doesn’t. It might be an indication that that customer is focused more on price than on value. That means they are always going to be beating you down on the price of everything. Do you really want those sort of customers or the ones who see the value and are excited for you to enable everything E5 provides for them? I know what I’d be doing if faced with that decision.

Finally, by focusing on the right hand side of the above list of suites, you have a first fall back from E5 being E3 which still provides a HUGE amount of value and opportunity for customers and resellers. Why start trying to sell from the cheapest option? Pushing uphill than down is much harder in my experience. A much better approach is to educate customers on the full features set and help them understand the value. If you only show them the cheapest option, you are doing them a complete disservice as their technology provides and should hang your head in shame.

Everything I hear the phrase “I can’t sell anything but Office 365 Business Premium” I know that it typically really means “I won’t sell anything but Office 365 Business Premium because I have a closed mind set”. If you open your mind, invest in some deliberate learning around what the full suite Office 365 provides and develop business value scenarios, then have the courage to step outside your normal “won’t” mentality,  you may be surprised to find out what customers actually will buy!

If you focus solely on price, then that is how people see you as well. But if you focus on value ,you’ll graduate to a completely different level where price isn’t part of the equation.

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