AccountMate Gets with the Program

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AccountMate has had resellers for years. What it really hasn't had is a structured reseller program, including elements such as its new "boutique" channel marketing program heavily subsidized by co-op development funding.

Currently, the channel has 1,200 partners covering a broad array of vertical specialties. And now they are getting things competing VARs have had all along.

"We feel that the growth of our channel partners relies in strong part on their ability to differentiate their business," notes Laureen Ryan, who is the newly named market vice president for Softline North America. With that objective in mind, the vendor plans to "help them acutely market to their current customers' specific requirements," says Ryan.

Partner Insights

Ryan's appointment is part of the process of building a channel support structure, one that relies heavily on veterans from the former SBT Accounting Systems, purchased by Accpac in 2000. Both Ryan and public relations director Brian Austin went to Accpac from SBT and on to AccountMate, which was independent until purchased by Softline in 1999. AccountMate executive vice president David Dierke left SBT before the Accpac purchase. In the channel support structure, you can also throw in Julie Kruger, one of two channel marketing representatives. Krueger was at SBT and served two years in Intuit's channel marketing before joining AccountMate. All together, 10 managers, directors, or vice presidents are SBT veterans.

The fit is a natural. AccountMate's source-code product is related to the former SBT ProSeries line, now sold by Accpac. AccountMate also made a deliberate effort to recruit disgruntled ProSeries VARs two years ago. It claims the enlistment effort was a success.

AccountMate, founded in 1984, had the kind of techie reputation that is common for source-code vendors. It has played around in different product lines, including an AS/400 version of its Visual AccountMate line that has been discontinued. It still markets the Visual AccountMate LAN software, but is moving away from that to the AccountMate 6.0 line. The company also sells compiled versions of that line.

Suffice it to say, technically oriented VARs need help in other areas.

"We have found business partners of accounting software are not good sales and marketing people," says Murray Aston, president of Softline North America, AccountMate's parent. "They're good at technology, training, and support-they're solution-oriented. As a result, we provide the marketing because they're not going to do it well on their own."

There's not much unusual in the new co-op and marketing programs. It's just that AccountMate hasn't had such offerings, says Austin. "It's really a change to an industry-standard kind of channel marketing program," he says. "We did not have that before."

Under the new marketing strategy, business partners who purchase more than $10,000 in AccountMate product sales in the most recently completed quarter receive co-op credits equal to 5 percent of their recent quarterly sales.

Partners get access to a broad array of marketing programs including direct mail, telemarketing, newsletter creation, and public relations assistance-all eligible for co-op dollars. Direct mail, seminars, Webinars, and search engine placement receive up to a 75 percent funding level, while business plan creation, trade shows, telemarketing, sales literature, newsletter, print ads, and Internet banner ads can receive as much as 50 percent funding.

Furthermore, partners can create their own marketing program from scratch, using AccountMate's Business Partner Tool Kit to learn how to conduct direct mail campaigns, seminars, and other marketing activities.

Resellers also have the option of applying their co-op dollars toward a direct mail campaign that AccountMate develops each quarter.

"Stated most simply, the business partners who take the time to work with our channel marketing group in executing direct mail and other co-op activities see leads generated and sales closed. So, they benefit by bottom-line business growth," says Ryan.

Natural Resources

Meanwhile, the company also has worked to increase the number of vertical-market packages available to its resellers through its existing base of third-party partners.

The channel currently includes "an unusually large number" of partners who are both certified resellers and vertical partners, according to Ryan. While AccountMate recently signed a distribution agreement with Radio Beacon, it has put more effort into cultivating relationships with VARs who have their own software packages.

"These are well-established, fully integrated solutions. What we put behind it is our marketing engine," says Austin. Verticals presently covered include business intelligence, manufacturing, point of sale, distribution, warehouse management, direct deposit, e-commerce, service, hand-held and mobile devices, EDI, and customer management.

One example is Everest Manufacturing of Saint Clair Shores, Mich. Everest's president, David Bilbrey, has been an AccountMate reseller for two years. Already, he has been able to use the new co-op funding to advance sales not only of AccountMate, but of his own Everest Manufacturing Software, a modular system designed for a variety of production houses including discrete manufacturers, made-for-stock, made-to-order, assemblers, and process shops.

"As a vertical partner, AccountMate helps us market, whereas we enhance their product portfolio because, before us, they didn't have a strong manufacturing suite," Bilbrey says. He estimates he sells three dollars of AccountMate software for every dollar of Everest software.

"I leverage the [channel marketing] program to help my software. For example, in the month of June, 30,000 brochures went out to manufacturers, and 75 percent of the cost to do this will be covered by AccountMate," he says. Increased demand has led Bilbrey to hire more staff.

Highly Customizable

AccountMate, of course, is a customizable business management and accounting solution designed to address the needs of medium-sized businesses. There are two versions: The MSDE offering is available for small businesses with up to five users, and the SQL flavor is designed for hundreds of users and larger databases.

The package comes in three languages-English, French, and Spanish -and can be localized to fulfill the specific financial management requirements of a country. Also, the software has multilingual and multi-currency capabilities, and can accommodate differences in regional tax systems, and costs approximately $19,000.

A qualified reseller can sign up for $2,995 and will receive a five-user system manager with three compiled resellable financial modules; an in-house system, also with five-user system manager and three modules of the business partner's choice; and a business partner start-up kit with combination literature pack.

There is no renewal fee for business partners.

Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of
Accounting Technology and can be reached at
carly.lombardo@amgpubs.com.

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