Google announced the launch of an authorized reseller program for Google Apps.
While some might see this as a direct attack on Microsoft’s core product line (which it very well may be), Web hosting companies should really be the entities worrying. If web hosting resellers shift from promoting entire Web business configurations over to Google Apps, small hosting companies could end up all but obsolete. For this to happen though, Google will surely need to beef up its own services. But the threat is certainly there.
For those unfamiliar with Google Apps, it is a SaaS package of business applications such as email, calendar, group site creation, and document collaboration (watch a video on Google Apps here). Over 1 million companies already use the product, and some 3,000 new businesses sign up each and every day.
The challenge, however, for Google is that many of the businesses right for Google Apps don’t have the expertise or resources to implement it correctly and integrate it into their existing business processes. That’s where authorized resellers come in. Google is aiming to steal away some market share from hosting companies by training affiliates to resell its application bundle.
The Google Apps Authorized Reseller program gives affiliates the opportunity to earn product and service revenue (20% on each $50 per user/per year price) from their new and existing customers by deploying Google Apps. Google provides resellers with the standard marketing collateral (sales tools and technical training) and management accounts (console to create and manage customer accounts).
What is the Google Apps Authorized Reseller program and how does it work? Take a look at the short video for a program overview. Then browse this web site for more on the business opportunity, the program requirements and benefits, and the roles you and Google play in the customer relationship. If this all sounds right, then get started by applying here.
Can we make money? Since Google Apps is so affordable for our clients, doesn’t that mean less margin for us? While the per user list price of Google Apps is likely much lower than the cost of your clients’ existing systems, that doesn’t mean a lower total margin for you. The change in paradigm to SaaS and the constant incremental improvements from Google mean a wealth of new recurring revenue opportunities for resellers, integrators and other solution providers.
Businesses of all sizes are looking into how these products can best fit into and enhance how they work. From business process consulting on Google Apps adoption, to worry-free management of the application services, to comprehensive end user and administrator support — deep knowledge of our product and interfaces will offer you new revenue opportunities at a fraction of the overhead cost you’re accustomed to. Also deployment, data migration, change management, and systems integration projects should fit into your business just as they do today. In fact, because Google Apps is so affordable, customers have more budget for additional valuable services from you.
Do I provide front-line customer support as a Google Apps reseller? We don’t require this, but we encourage resellers to be as proactive as they can in supporting their customers. To help you with this, your contact info can be listed directly in the support options in your customer’s administrator control panel. Or you can choose to use the control panel to manage your customers’ accounts yourself.
We’ve worked hard to build up our client list. How do we know that Google won’t later take the relationship direct and cut us out? Google’s mission of "organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful" hasn’t changed. Google focuses on building great products that users find intuitive, fast, and powerful. We fully recognize and appreciate the complementary role you play as a solution provider in bringing these products to business customers.
With this reseller program, you own the relationship with your customers. You create and sell a complete solution that includes Google Apps and your own services, you bill your customers for the solution you design, and we encourage you to provide front-line support as well. We’re also working to improve the level of control that you have over the customer experience and delivery of Google Apps.
My clients have existing applications for email, document editing, and calendar management. Will they need to replace those with Google Apps? Your customers won’t need to replace their existing systems if they are happy with them. Google Apps includes a modular set of services that are designed to be used together or independently. We’ve specifically included interoperability support for popular systems from Microsoft and others. For example, some users can be using Microsoft Exchange while others are using Google Apps and they can still schedule meetings with each other. You can help your clients chose the best of breed applications for their specific business needs – down to the individual employee level.
And of course, all of this means you as an independent advisor are able to provide comprehensive, objective guidance to your clients that isn’t tied to any one vendor or technology platform.
Will we need to make a heavy up-front investment before we know whether Google Apps will work for our business? You can grow your investment in the Google Apps side of your business as your appetite and results dictate. The low risk and low up-front investment of not having to acquire new hardware or hire a team of sales and support representatives makes it easier to smoothly grow your Google Apps business based on customer demand. While it is crucial that you invest some time in product and sales training, we’ve made this part as painless and lightweight as possible. The reseller program also has no entry fee and there are no minimum volume requirements.
And if you’re not currently investing in growing your business, you may find that the smooth nature of subscription-based software revenue and longer term service contracts entices you to invest more in customer acquisition and hiring. Being in a high growth market backed by industry trends and Google’s innovation doesn’t hurt either.
Is Google Apps secure? What about data privacy? Why should my clients trust their data with Google? From our physical data centers, to our application level authentication and authorization systems, to static vulnerability checks in source code, Google was built from the ground up with data security in mind at every level. Our success is based on users trusting that their data is safe with us. We’ve been processing billions of dollars of financial transactions for our global advertising business for years, and we’ve now completed a SAS Type II audit for Google Apps, which requires an extensive complete third-party inspection of our internal processes. Google takes security and data privacy very seriously, and to help you handle client questions in this area, you’ll learn much more about how we address security and privacy in our reseller training material.
We’re looking to grow our business. How and where can we find new clients that are best suited to Google Apps? We’ve put together sales and marketing materials for you to assist your sales reps in identifying and closing new business. These include customizable collateral and sales presentations, sample demos, tools to find business online, materials to host your own event, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller logo, and more. We’ve found that Google Apps appeals to business customers of all sizes and to many different industry verticals. Read some of their stories here.
Once you feel comfortable explaining and demonstrating the value propositions, we suggest speaking with some of your existing clients and developing a strategy for approaching your target market.
We encourage you to sell solutions and service contracts that align with the subscription-based software pricing model. In this way you’ll be able to more accurately forecast revenue and you’ll be able to grow your sales and support headcount smoothly along with customer demand.
How can I train my employees to handle deployment and support? We’ve put together multimedia technical training materials and exercises to assist your employees with initial ramp-up and ongoing deployment and support work. These include an extensive deployment guide, material to assist with migration and mail routing, and guides for supporting and troubleshooting the services. You’ll also have access to reseller-specific support from Google and a solution provider discussion forum monitored by Google technical representatives.
Should you choose, one of the best ways to get your entire team up to speed on the benefits of Google Apps is to deploy it for your own business. We did this for the entire Google workforce many months before Google Apps was publicly available, and it dramatically helped Google employees learn the ins and outs of the service.
Do you have an official certification program? We do not currently have a certification program for resellers, but we’re working on it because we realize certification by Google is an important decision criteria for your clients. Today, prospective resellers are required to demonstrate real-world skills and experience by finding and deploying a customer before being fully admitted into the reseller program. We feel this investment of your time and energy will better equip you for success with this program.
What is the Google Enterprise Partner program and how is it related to this reseller program? The Google Enterprise Partner (GEP) program is a sales and marketing development program for strategic technology partners focused on bringing Google’s enterprise search, Google Apps, and Google Maps products into large businesses via product extensions and implementation services. Everything you need to be successful as a Google Apps reseller is part of the Authorized Reseller program described on this site. If you are interested in joining the GEP program, you can learn more about it here.