I have heard from other people that they worked, but they haven’t worked for us. The biggest problem is that you can get basically one of these relationships to work at most, because the CPA doesn’t want you recommending business to anyone else.
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Precision Computer Methods
West Chicago, Ill.
CPA recommendations are extremely beneficial because the prospect is arriving at your doorstep already at the recommendation of a trusted source. The biggest challenge is the over-involved CPA-one who doesn’t allow the VAR to then lead the sales and implementation processes, many times leading to longer and more tedious implementation times and frustration on the part of all involved. An active CPA encouraging and nurturing a client can be beneficial for a VAR team. But there is a fine line the CPA can cross into becoming a hindrance. All in all, I wouldn’t wish the CPAs, their leads or referrals away in any form. CPAs and their organizations are significant allies in our line of business.
Accountant referrals work great and are a win-win-win. From the client’s side, they are getting a firm that their CPA knows, trusts, and has a working relationship with. From the CPAs side, they are sticking their necks out recommending a VAR, so they mitigate their risk by recommending and working with a VAR they have had past experience with. From our perspective, a CPA referral gives us an established key working relationship to help ensure a successful implementation. We have a very high percentage of closings with CPA referrals.
To be honest, I’ve rarely seen them work well. Software publishers are focused on generating revenue, and they do not seem to recognize the indirect nature of some of that revenue. As a result, most recommender programs are “throwaways” designed to pay lip service to the recommender. In “A Separate Peace,” I think there was a line that said (paraphrased, perhaps): “Always say your prayers at night, just in case there is a God.” Well, the recommender programs seem to be the same type of thing-have some sort of program just in case they really can generate revenue. But most of the software companies don’t really believe it.
This is somewhat of a mixed bag. On the plus side is the obvious answer that the client usually respects the accountant/CPA’s recommendations. Over the years, we have had clients referred to us as a result of this. It makes for a great referral. However, many times the accountant/CPAs are using a different program, or want to still handle many of the entries themselves, which result in the General Ledger module not being used as it should by the client, so they are still dependent on the accountant/CPA for certain functions. The other downside is that many accountant/CPAs are also resellers of certain accounting products, and actually become competitors and not allies. But if you can establish the right relationship with the accountant/CPA, it is a great way to go.
Laguna Beach, Calif.
For the most part, I think the formal accountant/CPA recommender programs are a non-event. Ultimately, CPAs who are confident (that someone else won’t steal their clients) and forward-looking (fully appreciate that strategic relationships enhance their ability to grow their own practices) are aligning themselves with VARs and consultants, whether recommender programs exist or not.
David M. Cieslak, CPA,
CITP Information Technology Group
I believe that CPA recommenders are very helpful. Many companies seek their CPA’s advice on accounting software recommendations. The CPAs often understand the needs of an organization as well as the company’s management. Their general business experience enables them to provide sound advice. The only downside is if a CPA has requirements that are not directly related to the operation of the business, and is not flexible to alternative measures.