Mining Sharepoint Gold

NewsGator announced last week our Social Sites product that bolts onto Microsoft’s Sharepoint. I’ve been using this product and think it’s PDC (pretty damn cool) because it leverages something that Sharepoint is really good at, presenting content in a personalized portal frame, with something we do really well, manage RSS content and the social interactions around content.

I wrote about Social Sites last week, highlighting the fact that while there are a bunch of techical features the product delivers, quite possibly the most significant benefit to organizations using Sharepoint is a social one.

One of the things about this product that concerned me, from a business model standpoint, is that the price points are a lot lower than our enterprise server product because Social Sites is an add-on. The lower price point requires us to have a low touch sales process pretty well baked otherwise the cost of sales just kills any margin we would have. We’re really not unique here, practically every company in enterprise software is struggling with this issue at the moment, even the big brands like SAP and Oracle.

My concerns were put to rest yesterday when we closed our first deal, a mere 3 days after making the announcement. I have included the timeline below, stripping out the names where appropriate:

  • Thursday, 10/18, 10:33 AM  –  contact sends us an email requesting more info on SocialSites following the PR
  • Thursday, 10/18, 11:21 AM  –  NG sales calls, qualifies them as a good lead and sets up a demo for Friday
  • Friday, 10/19, 10:00 AM  –  inside sales demo SocialSites
  • Friday, 10/19, 3:18 PM  –  send full price proposal for $11k (jn: for all their users) and license agreement
  • Monday, 10/22, 9:50 AM  –  inside sales receives completed license agreement and billing instructions

So there you have it, our outstanding inside sales team closed an $11k license (I thought about stripping out the price point, but decided there was no point in doing that) in 3 business days. All inside sales, remote demo, no travel expenses, quick turn and no drawn out negotiations. This is the promised land for enterpise software.

The more experienced enterprise software pros will immediately question how repeatable the above is. The honest answer is that we don’t know but having dissected the win it is clear that there are a number of targeting, sales strategies, and supporting material that are indeed repeatable. While time will be the ultimate judge, I feel confident that we’re onto something here.

I want to add a couple of other comments about this deal. First and foremost, it validates the notion that there are a lot of Sharepoint customers out there that will actively engage with you if you provide them with something that dramatically extends the utility of something they already have, in this case Sharepoint. MOSS (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server) is a critical platform for a wide range of companies, all sizes and in all verticals.

While it’s not trendy in the Valley to do so, partnering with Microsoft and developing on the Microsoft technology stack can provide companies with advantages not always achieved in other technology sectors.

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