Jane Johnson, CPA and president of CoActive Consulting Group, has found an effective way to keep existing clients happy: Web-based seminars and training.
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Located in Wakefield, Mass., CoActive hosts a series of approximately ten Webinars every month using Webex. Johnson conducts a ‘live’ session using a browser and a teleconferencing service. “So many clients have busy schedules that they do not have the time to travel and physically attend one of our seminars. Webinars are good because they can attend them right from their desks,” says Johnson.
Clients simply go to a Web site where they join the meeting. Then they call the teleconference phone number so they can hear the meeting and ask questions. Johnson gets a great response with at least 10 attendees per Webinar. The course lasts for about two hours and costs $150 per company.
With annual revenue of approximately two million dollars, CoActive has been a Great Plains reseller since 1994, and has served 350 clients. CoActive’s staff of thirteen consultants provides clients with technical support, training, and implementation.
CoActive’s Webinars cover the latest version of Microsoft Great Plains’ upgrades, overviews, and demos of modules. For example, the Dynamics and eEnterprise Payables Management online training course is an introductory overview. Clients will learn how to set up vendors and enter their purchases from them. They will also learn how to record payments to their vendors and generate a computer check to automate the payment process.
In addition to reaching client through Webinars, Johnson sends e-mail blasts through Reachmail. “Sending e-mail blasts is a great way to stay in touch and in front of our clients. I send e-mails three times a month when we have promotions, big announcements, or upgrades for the software,” she says.
Johnson spent more than eight years in public-sector accounting and financial strategy, including several years with General Electric, before starting her own consulting practice in 1990. Johnson’s company, Financial System Strategies, specialized in implementation and training on Great Plains software.
After four years, Johnson wanted to expand her firm’s market base, as well as products and services portfolio, and merged Financial System Strategies with new staff that now comprises CoActive Consulting.
CoActive has been authorized to sell Dynamics and eEnterprise since version one. The two products are now branded Great Plains Edition under the Microsoft Business Solutions umbrella.
Johnson is excited about the opportunity to add Microsoft CRM to her product bag. In fact, CoActive is going full force with the product. Johnson says, “It just starting shipping and we’ve already sold one deal and have several more in the works.”
One of CoActive’s clients who has purchased Microsoft CRM will use it to replace an Access database. The client is a not-for-profit lender for low-income housing projects in Massachusetts. Johnson says, “They will use the Standard Sales module of MS CRM to more effectively manage their accounts, contacts, opportunities, leads, activities, calendar, and tasks.
She adds, “It will be a small services engagement due to the low number of users that they have on the lending team”-that is, the client’s employees who handle all the contacts related to granting and processing loans. “This will probably represent one of the smallest engagements for CRM that we will have. We are currently working on larger deals for at least two of our clients that would need hundreds of CRM licenses,” she notes.
Looking toward the future, CoActive is a beta test site for a BankOne integration module that allows CoActive to electronically import credit card charges directly to the Accounts Payable module of Great Plains.
“This eliminates the manual processing of expense reports and/or credit card company invoices that are sent to our clients through the mail. It will cut accounts payable processing costs dramatically,” says Johnson. Corporate employees would have credit cards with spending limits by transaction, by month, and by type of merchant.
Carly Lombardo is Assistant Editor of
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