Redmond Negotiator

Last-Minute Deal Tips

About to sign on the dotted line with Microsoft? You still have time to get the best deal possible.

Even if you're in the final stages of a deal with Microsoft (or any other software company), there's always time to make some last-minute checks to make sure you're getting the best deal. Here are some reminders for things to check before you sign:

Did You Compare Apples to Apples and Apples to Oranges?
By "apples to apples" I mean, did you take Microsoft or the reseller's quote(s) at face value, or did you build your own, independent analysis of your needs? Of course, you'll need Microsoft or your reseller to provide you with price list help for this part, but when you do this, you'll have a better understanding of your options and trade-offs.

By "apples to oranges" I mean, did you truly look at your alternatives to the Microsoft products? Did you consider:

  • Traditional commercial competitors, such as IBM, Oracle, Sun, Peoplesoft, Novell -- you can add to the list.
  • Hosted Microsoft products from third-party hosting companies? You do know that just about every Microsoft product is available as a hosted service, right?  
  • Open source? No, I mean, really, did you give it a fair look, or are you just humoring the in-house Linux freak with an occasional test server?
  • Build-it-yourself? Sure this one's out of favor lately, but if you have the talent and project management skills in house, it's hard to beat a custom app for business alignment.
  • Have it built for you? Yes it's expensive and fraught with risk. But isn't everything in technology?
  • And the ever-popular "do nothing" option? If your budget's so darn tight, why are you buying SA for upgrades that haven't shipped yet, might not ship at all during your contract, and you probably won't get around to upgrading for years anyway?

Microsoft Promotions
Always check Microsoft's promotional offers page to see which ones you qualify for. Some of the current promotions include:

  • Windows Rights Management Promotion for Core CAL Customers
  • Managed Exchange Promotion
  • Exchange Server CAL and Windows Server CAL Promotion
  • Windows XP Pro Upgrade Licenses with SA Price Promotion
  • Office Professional Rebate for Open License Customers
  • Microsoft Office Live Communications Server Promotion
  • Core CAL and Live Communications Server CAL Promotion

And many more, so pop over to that page today.

Keep Asking, and Offer Back
To make sure you're getting the most out of your deal, go through this checklist and take an honest look at whether you've accomplished the following:

  • Did you ask for, and get, extra free services such as training, or support, or implementation or design help from Microsoft or a partner?
  • Did you get a complete and thorough understanding of all of your prices, the alternatives that were considered and rejected, and the logic that built the pricing? Do you understand how SA is priced and blended with license costs for your particular situation?
  • Did you identify the top dollar value line items in your deal?   Did you spend more time negotiating price for the top dollar value line items than for the rest of the deal combined?
  • Did you get at least three significant price concessions for the top dollar value line items?
  • Did you get at least one concession regarding payment terms, financing or timing?
  • Did you ask for and get at least one concession that you thought was pie-in-the-sky?

If you haven't signed yet, keep asking for more. Keep asking until the absolute deadline. Keep asking until you get at least two "no's." Keep asking for more pie-in-the-sky. Keep asking for more concessions that are valuable to you but don't cost much for Microsoft.

In return, offer up concessions that are valuable to Microsoft but don't cost you much (or anything). Need some ideas? Here are a few:

  • Agree to be a customer reference.
  • Agree to do a public case study.
  • Agree to do a press interview.
  • Agree to pilot test a product you're not really interested in or able to fund.
  • Agree to host a user group meeting and talk about your use of whatever Microsoft products the reps are pitching.
  • Agree to do a presentation at a Microsoft event.
  • Agree to switch from a competitive product that you were going to phase out anyway.

So if you still haven't signed, don't worry and get cracking! In my next column, I'll discuss lessons learned and what to do differently next time.

About the Author

Scott Braden has helped more than 600 companies negotiate Microsoft volume license deals. For a free case study, "How a Mid-size Company Saved over $870,000 on a $3 million Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, in Less Than Three Weeks," visit www.MicrosoftCaseStudy.com.

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