Service Compromise as a Service

IT Business
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Sometimes as a business owner you have to put your foot down and say: No, I will not do stupid things. But then you realize just how many stupid people are walking around with stupid amounts of cash and the only stupid thing is your ignorance and unwillingness to take it out of their pocket. As many of the people who have worked for me will gladly say: “Vlad never met a dollar he didn’t like.”

A while ago we announced that we are working on making changes to our Exchange Essentials product and we’ve spent the past few months looking at what our partners do with the service, how they sell it, how they position it and what we could do to help them out. I have my own opinion of the people that compete on price, but the reality is that there is a market for people that don’t have critical email needs and we can make money by adjusting our price and service points to fit the special needs.

Not to mention that this product has been growing a lot and with the upgrade to 2013 it made a lot of sense to take it much more seriously. So we did. We talked to people that sell the crap out of it, we talked to people that sell Office 365 and Google Apps, we talked to people that previously asked us about Zimbra, and we talked to folks that wanted Exchange Essentials but with full ExchangeDefender.

Then we went all IKEA on it – started with the price and talked about what we could include to hit that magic number. Then we spent a few minutes trying to figure out what our value proposition should be. We came up with the following:

  • Our platform will never go down, thanks to ExchangeDefender LiveArchive and Emergency
  • We do not compete with our partners, we will not try to sell any services to your clients
  • Your client remains your client: You market to them, you support them, you choose what to bill them

The first point was our own – we know what happens when you stick all your Exchange servers into a single data center; so we threw in several different business continuity solutions to be able to say that no matter what happens you will always be able to send and receive your email. That right there ought to kill any “so how is this different from Microsoft/Google” questions.

Then we looked at the list of reasons why people did business with us. After we eliminated all the “Because Vlad is sexy as hell” comments, the rest of them were typical business competition on price: We want to bill the client and we don’t want you to try to sell Office, Xbox, laptops, bags, phones or any other flea market grade electronic to them. Fair enough, I will do my best.

If you’d like to find out more, there is a webinar about this in a few weeks:

ExchangeDefender & Exchange 2013 Essentials
Wed, Mar 26, 2014 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT

We haven’t announced the pricing but it’s basically head-to-head with what Microsoft and Google are doing. Which is what everyone really wanted.

I aim to please

Hope you enjoyed the infomercial. I know, everyone loves that fine ExchangeDefender SPAM but here is the real deal. For literally a year random people on my team would come up and ask why we don’t put together an Office 365-type product.

I’d send them away to do the research, calculate the compromises and then sell me on it. So they did.

And then they came back and tried to navigate me through the modern world interpretation of Dante’s circles of hell.

“So with these people you basically get the email to contact when the email goes down.  But they are super sure that it never will so don’t worry.”

“OK, this package here is an awesome deal but you have to prepay for a year and promise not to grow beyond 20 users. If you do, you have to blow the whole thing up and rebuy the next one up.”

“This one sounds great but their support chat gave me 3 different answers so I’m not sure what’s what.. but it sounds great.”

So I sat there and laughed at them as one idiotic compromise after another came up, pretty much getting ready to dismiss the whole thing. Until this line:

Now here is the funny part – what kind of an idiot would buy this? A reckless and uninformed one – and @#% makes a billion a quarter from them so here is what we are going to do:

Whenever I talk to my partners I either have someone sophisticated that layers a top of their own stuff on top or they are bitching about how @#% stole their client and they pretty much had nothing else to put on the table at $4.99 and they are out of the picture, permanently. So let’s stop comparing this to the kind of a product we sell here and build another product.

Half of this product is the solution itself. That has to be rock solid. The other half is the sales process. If anyone came into my office and told me they are going to cut me a really great deal on a mailbox at $5 and that the solution was only down about 3 days last year depending on which services you consider critical… I’d dropkick them in the face. But I’m not the guy trying to save $2 on email because I live in it. Many others don’t.

So let’s talk about marketing. We can make money on this? Let’s make money at this. But marketing this – it’s also not the same marketing for the kind of a product we sell. The marketing for this product is training partners how to explain to the business owner the extent of a compromise they are about to undertake. Making them think about how long they are willing to wait to get a response to a support question. Whether they want someone to be there for them on the phone or via email.

Ultimately, it’s up to the buyer to pick the solution they want. We build our services and products for our clients. Without them buying these solutions we’d be doing something else. So we’re building a product for a wider range of people.

Everyone aboard with that? You have one objective: Make sure the client actually signs off on the solution that they picked, so when they wish they got something else in the future… we can gently remind them just how much $ they are saving.

The moral of the story is, would you rather be right or be paid? We’re in business of getting paid, we have a process and a strategy and we push forward with that.

But if we have an opportunity to create another line of business.. who am I to discriminate against green presidents? Smile