At some point in a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA Renewal) negotiation, a physical meeting usually takes place and a literal army of Microsoft badge wearing folks fills your boardroom. Who are all these people with job titles that are generally two or three letter acronyms? It’s helpful to really understand who these folks are and what will be important to them in the negotiation.
In simplified terms, your whole Microsoft account team is compensated on the sales of products and services, attainment of a growth number and also for the attainment of scorecard metrics. These scorecard metrics generally include bonuses for the sale of certain quantities of key products that Microsoft has determined are strategic at a corporate level. It can also include punitive measures for account teams which fail to meet their scorecard metrics. This may explain on certain occasions the baffling behavior by an account team in which they appear laser focused on continually positioning a solution for which the client has no particular interest or actual business needs. Odds are it is critical to the account team’s scorecard.
Microsoft arranges their Enterprise Account Teams into virtual teams. At the simplest level, these are comprised of an Account Manager (AM) and various subject matter specialists. As you would expect, the AM is responsible for the all up management of your account and is also responsible for delivering a sales number to Microsoft. As a result, this person is concerned with every product line and upsell opportunity on your renewal.
Closely linked with them will be your account Technology Specialist (TS). The TS is responsible for the more general technical aspects of the sales process. In fact, my former TS (I was an AM) would often describe himself to our clients as, “his (referring to me) technical conscience” which was a very accurate way of explaining how we worked together. Together the AM and the TS form the core of the account team.
Surrounding this team will be various Solution Specialists. These are presales resources that bring a certain level of technical expertise coupled with sales expertise around a specific Microsoft solution(s) such as Office or SQL Server. It is important to understand that these roles are only concerned with ensuring that the product lines they represent are attached to the new agreement. Behind the scenes, there may be some active politicking going on to make sure that the AM and TS view their products as strategic to the sale so they have a seat at the table.
In a renewal meeting, the team will likely include a Licensing Specialist (LS) who is often the only Microsoft person at this meeting who has anything more than a rudimentary understanding of how the products are licensed. They will have worked (possibly with your reseller) to create a series of licensing models that they will present to you. These models will commonly include some variation of renewal of your current state and then a series of models that build on that. I like to call these additive models “Microsoft Aspirational”.
Occasionally the meeting may also include a Sales Manager or Sales Director to whom the account team reports to. If this person is present, it can potentially create a new dynamic in the discussion. They may be present for a variety of reasons ranging from demonstrating Microsoft’s commitment to you, assessing their account team, helping to “seal the deal” or something as simple as just actually meeting with a client for a change. Regardless of the reason that they have joined the meeting, they are sometimes able to take a different view of the situation. They are generally less concerned with the granularities of your EA as they are more concerned about an all up regional number. This sometimes allows them to step back from your deal and take a bigger picture view. It’s also worth noting that among this group they are the only individuals who have any real ability to influence anything beyond basic concessions.
In our experience it’s very important that you set the stage with the account team early in terms of expectations and direct your requests to the right Microsoft person. This sets the tone for the negotiation and does not need to be confrontational. We understand that Microsoft is a strategic vendor for most of our clients and you will want to have a strong and positive relationship moving forward. MetrixData360 specializes in helping you to understand how to ask for concessions in language that the account team will understand and help you to avoid asking for things they cannot give you. To arrange a free 30-minute consultation with one of our Microsoft negotiation experts, please call or email us today.