Selling Google Apps: One Partner's Story
Many solution providers are unsure if there is real opportunity to be had in partnering with Google. The answer is yes. But the ones who will benefit most from the relationship appear will be those willing to make the greatest overall commitment.
Just ask Shawn Wilke, president of Sheepdog Inc., a Nova Scotia-based company that exclusively resells and implements Google Apps. Wilke, who launched the company in January, was one of the original beta testers of the Google Apps suite in 2008. In nine months, Sheepdog has gone from two original employees to 10 and is on target for revenues of $500,000 this year with $2.6 million projected for next year. Those numbers includes the margins Google provides for reselling Google Apps combined with a host of professional services that Sheepdog wraps in and around the suite.
Much of the business has come from enterprises and educational institutions migrating email systems off of Exchange and Lotus Notes, he said. But he's also seen rising uptick among customers looking to switch away from Microsoft Office.
The Office migration is less robust than email, with Wilke fully acknowledging that Google Apps are not yet an equal to Office in functionality. But simplicity is actually the point, he said.
"The neat thing is that blows Microsoft away is that Google put the collaboration tools right into the applications so, for example, users can collaborate around one spreadsheet," he explained. "Sharepoint, by comparison, is not simple. You need a course."
He acknowledges that the partner program is in its infancy, but for solution providers willing to commit while kinks are worked out the pay-off is there.
"For partners like us, Google is pouring all kinds of resources and opportunities," he said. "I don't think that will be for everybody out there, but we are all in."
All in translates into getting three Google executives to support you during a customer sales call, he added. That level of touch won't be sustainable if Google decides to blow out its partner ecosystem into thousands beyond their current 400 Google Apps resellers. But Wilke said from what he has seen that shouldn't be a problem. Google has been highly selective in choosing partners and unlikely, he believes, to go for high volume.
For Wilke, the relationship's working. How about you? Have you considered partnering with Google and whether your business is a good fit?