Visiting Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center? Read This First.

September 16, 2022
IT Microsoft

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Large Microsoft enterprise customers are often invited to the Executive Briefing Center, and it is a visit well worth your time. As our former enterprise sales executives for Microsoft will attest, it’s a great opportunity for Microsoft to showcase its technology to customers in a purpose-built environment, along with fostering executive relationships. You should seek out opportunities to attend these briefings at least every couple of years.

Microsoft offers a variety of executive-level communication vehicles styled around the “executive briefing” concept. A visit to Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in Redmond is generally a very high-quality event and exposes Microsoft’s customers to its senior executives in the sales, business function, and product engineering groups.

Additionally, Microsoft offers a variety of EBC-like experiences at its regional Experience Centers, the Industry Experience Center, and various Microsoft Technology Centers. The key difference between the Redmond-based Executive Briefing Center and the regional centers is that the customer may not have the same exposure to Microsoft’s senior executives outside of the sales organization. The regional centers may include a general manager or vice president but will rarely include representatives from the product engineering groups or experienced industry leaders. This isn’t to say that the regional centers aren’t worth your time, as the speakers and product demonstrations at the regional centers may be led by dedicated regional resources or even technical members of your local sales team. Having said that, if you’re planning on bringing your CIO, CTO and other senior leaders, it may be of value to schedule a visit to the Redmond EBC.

Here’s a handy breakdown of what you can expect from each of their learning centers:

Don’t Let Your Microsoft Executive Briefing Center Visit Derail Negotiations

It is common for visits to the EBC to coincide with a pending Microsoft agreement renewal, so it will be important for all attendees to be apprised of what’s happening in the negotiations. Nothing derails a negotiation strategy faster than your senior executives telling Microsoft’s senior executives that you can’t wait to deploy that new technology! (Leverage going down the drain….)

Key to any briefing is to work with your account team to craft an agenda that makes sense for your organization.  Keep in mind that everyone you interact with at the EBC will be motivated to upsell you to Microsoft’s latest and greatest. To some extent, this is exactly why customers want to go to the EBC. They want to hear success stories and they want to have an opportunity to speak with those that have made a career with the product/solution being highlighted.

Microsoft will have scripted and prepared agendas that they’re ready to deliver for the “average” EBC attendee.  Don’t be afraid to ask Microsoft to address specific questions, technology issues in your environment, and even problems that you’ve had deploying Microsoft products.

If left to craft the agenda on their own, Microsoft will focus on what’s important to Microsoft – M365 E5, Azure, Zero Trust Solutions, the Power Platform, the Viva technologies, and more. NPI recommends customers also use the EBC as a resource to help answer questions that you may have about how to receive value from the products that are in your environment today. If you have competitive products in place, plan on discussions that will showcase how Microsoft products work with those competitive products vs. how easily it would be for Microsoft to simply replace those products with the Microsoft alternative.

Microsoft does put on a great show at these events – the key is to ensure what they’ll be discussing is relative to your use of the technology. We recommended keeping interest in higher edition products close to the vest unless you’re ready to buy those products. It’s ok to learn about what Microsoft has coming and to talk about futures, yet NPI recommends that the “listen-only” mode is appropriate unless or until you’ve made the decision to move to a new technology, and have a good negotiation strategy defined.

Don’t Be Shy About Getting the Most Out of Your Visit

It’s also okay to ask for the bio on the speakers that will be presenting to your senior executives. Don’t be shy about shopping for the right speaker or executive. Microsoft has a wealth of resources in Redmond and if it’s appropriate to have a senior leader from one of the product groups meet with your senior technology leaders, you should ask for those interactions. Microsoft is very focused on developing executive relationships within its sales organization – in fact, the individual sales representatives are evaluated on creating and maintaining these types of relationships. You should ask for the same.

Don’t forget that Microsoft is nearly a $2T multi-national company with 150,000 employees and is a consumer of their own technology. They share some really great information about how they use their own technology – this may be helpful for you when considering how to implement Microsoft within your own organization. Finally, most EBC attendees tend to be focused on IT and implementing Microsoft solutions. Keep in mind that Microsoft likely has the same type of corporate structure that you do – marketing, human resources, finance, and more. If it makes sense for your adoption of Microsoft technology, it wouldn’t be unreasonable at all to seek out connections outside of Sales and IT.

Do you have a large enterprise Microsoft purchase or renewal planned in the next 12 months? NPI’s Microsoft cost and license optimization specialists can help. Contact us today.