“It’s difficult to stay entrepreneurial,” says Lisa Parr. But while occupying the helm at EZ Access for the last thirteen years, she has demonstrated it can be done.
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With just a tad of understatement, she describes EZ Access as hewing to an “interesting” business model. There’s only she and co-partners Lee Matson and Fred Heiler on the official employee roster, yet the company managed last year to chalk up three-quarters of a million dollars in Accpac Advantage software sales. The key has been partnering with a trusted crew of Accpac Certified Consultants out West and in Florida.
| EZ Access |
San Jose, Calif.
“My way” is selling software and services, which is a full-time job in itself, she stresses. “If a product’s not sold with the proper expectation set, then it’s not sold properly.”
Of course, first you’ve got to grab the prospect’s attention, so Parr has a well-oiled “marketing machine” in place. She does a “tremendous amount of direct marketing and tons or seminars.” Increasingly, she has been exploiting the low-cost convenience of the Internet to do Webinars and opt-in e-mail. Then there are postcards. “They’re quick and easy and get a hold of people’s attention in thirty seconds,” explains Parr.
A sense of humor doesn’t hurt, she mentions, in order to pique the prospect’s interest. She recently targeted manufacturers with a card showing a guy with a clipboard, and the superimposed question: Is This Your M[aterial] R[equirements] P[lanning]? The card’s reverse side followed up with: What happens when he gets sick?
Parr, who first encountered Accpac as an employee of parent Computer Associates’ PC-related products division, has developed a Midas touch for “getting people out of their chairs and into our chairs.” She’s achieving as high as a ten percent response rate on some targeted mailings.
She confides, “I was never a GL/AR/AP accounting reseller; I always sold full systems.” In EZ’s case, that means the entire Accpac Advantage Series: Enterprise, Corporate, Small Business, and Discovery Editions; eCRM, HR, Warehouse Management System, eTransact, eXchange, ePOS, Accpac Plus, and more than two hundred vertical and add-on products.
“They keep adding all the things you need,” says Parr approvingly, which means she can compete against not only traditional mid-market accounting software vendors such as Microsoft Business Solutions or Best Software, but increasingly against the upper-tier likes of PeopleSoft and SAP, “who typically are out of our league.” As a result, “There’s not much we have to say ‘No’ to.”
Through its network of consulting partners, EZ has a continuing presence in eight locations: San Jose, Santa Clara, Salinas, and Sacramento, Calif.; Portland, Ore., Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; and Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. The company relies on as many as ten Accpac consultants in California alone. “I can keep them busy,” assures Parr. “When you’re selling as much as I sell, you have to have someone to support it.”
Parr is finicky about whom she partners with; she wants to go to market with resellers who share her values. A case in point in the San Francisco Bay Area is certified Accpac solution provider Computer Business Consultants. CBC provides a full range of consulting services that include on-site training, system analysis and design, implementation planning, and classroom-style training for group. In Florida, she partners with NextLevel Information Solutions, a staunch Accpac-only house and Premier-level reseller who’s committed to supporting the entire product line.
Before a client hands over a dollar, “an awful lot of homework has been done,” she says. “I do quite a bit of qualification on the phone,” establishing the client’s pain points and available budget. Seldom does a sale go through without add-ons, whether it be ePOS or WMS or eCRM. “I’m actually leading off with eCRM in some deals and bringing in the accounting afterwards,” notes Parr.
“I don’t drive product at people; I sell solutions,” she concludes. Her soft-sell approach is paying sizable dividends. She estimates as much as 70 percent of new business derives from favorable referrals. “I’ve had referrals from people I haven’t sold a thing to,” says Parr. The referrals had been told, she recounts proudly, “She may not always tell you what you want to hear, but she’ll tell you the truth.”