How to Negotiate With Microsoft

Can you improve your odds when hammering out licensing contracts with Redmond? One "licensing geek" says yes.

How you can negotiate better software licensing deals with Microsoft — even if your company recently signed a new contract with the Redmond software kingpin?

The question is especially pertinent now, with many users three-year-old Software Assurance (SA) licensing deals set to expire on June 30.

But negotiating a licensing deal with Microsoft is a skill worth honing any time. And who better than a former Microsoft large account reseller (LAR) to walk you through the paces?

Without further ado, here are some negotiation guidelines from Scott Braden — a self-professed "licensing geek," who personally negotiated more than 600 volume license deals for customers with Microsoft (and lived to write about it in his forthcoming e-book "Microsoft License Secrets"):

Hone Your Microsoft Negotiation Skills

By Scott Braden

In order to negotiate effectively with Microsoft, you must be able to answer four key questions:

  • What software do you currently have installed on all the PCs and servers in the relevant enterprise?
  • What licenses can you prove you own? And when did you buy them?
  • Whats your technology roadmap for the next one to five years? The real one - the one the CFO and CEO like. (You do have one, right?) Where is Microsoft in that plan? Let them help you make the most of their technology. Youre using it anyway.
  • What is your real budget? Or to ask another way - has the CFO approved the cost of that roadmap? You dont have to reveal your budget to your Microsoft or reseller rep, but youve got to know what you can actually spend in order to move Microsoft in that direction, and to know whats feasible.

Most companies fail to answer these completely and accurately and arrive at the negotiating table at a disadvantage. If Microsoft finds out you dont have solid asset management, a defined roadmap, or clear spending plans, suddenly you could find yourself the proud owner of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) that you probably didnt need. Do the hard work up front before you invite the Microsoft rep to the table.

Microsoft employees genuinely believe they are selling the best products. Take advantage of this! If you have the four aforementioned questions answered well, you can build a business case for how you need to acquire/deploy Microsoft technology. Your Microsoft rep will love this and help you get there.


For more negotiating tips, read the full article