Sage Accpac: On The Grow

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It's always been the Canadian club, that's the channel of value-added resellers that handle Sage Accpac ERP, the product that was once known as Accpac Advantage. Roughly 600 active Sage Accpac dealers in North America are certified to sell and implement the company's software. Historically, about 50 percent of Accpac's business has been in Canada, where the software has dominated the mid-market.

Since Accpac International was acquired by Sage Software, the company is focusing its recruitment efforts in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Tom Knight, vice president of sales for Sage Accpac declines to break out the numbers in the United States, compared to Canada, and also would not discuss if there's an extra effort being made in trying to enlarge the base in this country specifically.

Partner Insights

The number of VARs stayed flat in the last year at a time in which the international flavor of Accpac is awakening interest in both resellers and Sage Software executives.

"We're consistently recruiting more partners, but the value part we're looking at is beyond someone who's just going to sell software," says Knight. "We're looking for a level of expertise and a niche partner."

The cost to join the program varies depending on the number of products and how much each partner sells.

New partners, who want to resell Accpac ERP, pay $5,995 the first year, and receive a 40 percent margin, and can renew each year for $750. They get 5 percent in co-op marketing funds, while receiving a five-user enterprise edition for in-house use.

Those dealers that sell only Sage products under the Sage Select program receive an additional 2 percent margin on new product sales; 2 percent credit for all software sales added to co-op funds; a free boot camp; and registration to Sage's Insights conference.

Of the 352 Sage Select participants in North American, 71 are Accpac resellers. That includes David Beck, CPA, president of SystemLink's North America group in Herndon, Va.

"It never made sense to me to carry multiple competing product lines. That's stress and pressure on us to be experts at all these products," Beck says. "We can take this application and make it fit into all the opportunities that are presented to us."

The one frustration for Beck is that Sage doesn't recognize SystemLink's UK sales in calculating the company's U.S. margins. That volume could add another five points to his margins.

Dealer pricing is calculated on the volume of purchases and there are five tiers in the program-Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, with margins topping out at 55 percent to 57 percent. SystemLink currently is a Platinum member.

Other benefits include:

100/100: Begun in 2004, this program annually provides a pool of $1 million to assist 100 firms expand their sales channels in 100 days. Each participant must hire a salesperson within 90 days from joining the program. Once trained, sales representatives are required to submit sales activity and pipeline reports every week for a year, which the peer advisor reviews. The $10,000 each reseller receives is designed to help in the period when the sales person has not begun generating revenue. Applicants must sell more than six new units in a 12-month period and want to expand their sales channel to the next level.

Fast Track for Growth: Focused around companies with a particular commitment to growing their business and acquiring new customers, partners invest $5,000 and receive free training; $3,000 in lead-generation assistance; one-on-one access to a peer advisor; an executive-level manager; business partner mentor; and the ability to earn back their initial investment by increasing their incremental new unit sales over a base number of units established in the prior 12-month period. For each new unit sale, they earn $1,000, up to the maximum of $5,000. To be eligible, a firm must currently be selling fewer than five new units in a 12-month period.

Fast Track for Consultants: Introduced at Sage Software's Insights reseller conference in May, this program is designed for partners who have had to slow sales efforts because they have trouble finding consultants to perform implementations.

"(Partners) can sell software, but implementing solutions at the back end is critical for the success of our customer satisfaction," Knight says. "They can only implement so much so fast."

Participants pay $5,000 ($1,000 upfront and subsequent $800 monthly payments for five months thereafter) and are eligible to receive more than $8,000 in benefits, including candidate pipeline building assistance to help hire a new full-time consultant; candidate profiling of up to three profiles; free registration to core certification training; free registration to Consulting Academy Level 1 Essentials; educational Webcasts; and access to solution consultants to assist with product questions.

Marketing Alliance: Includes lead generation and consultation. "The goal is to help them become much more self-sufficient at developing their own leads," Knight says.

"They're doing a super job putting together good marketing programs that help you sell the products," agrees Alex Solomon, cofounder of Manhattan-based Net@Work, one of the largest Sage-only software resllers. Net@Work has roughly 80 employees, 1,500 clients, and $11 million in revenue.

Solomon appreciates Sage's customer account managers, who call Net@Work's customers and look for opportunities for the company.

"A team is dedicated to help resellers tap into larger opportunities. It's like an extension of our sales force," he says. Solomon notes that that this is a huge improvement from the past, when, if a reseller would engage Sage's strategic sales staff, the VAR would only make about 10 percent of the sales he gave them to work on.

Not all companies will want to utilize these program. For example, some partners are very strong in their sales strategy and don't necessarily want to take part in the 100/100 program. "They're going to look at, 'Where's an inherent weakness in my business and how can Sage Accpac help me through this process?'" Knight says.

Although these programs are available across all product lines as part of the Partner Advantage Program, when it comes to Accpac specifically, resellers speak highly of the product's multiple languages and currencies, database independence, and out-of-the box browser readiness.

"A lot of products grew up in the U.S., and that's fine if you don't plan to leave the U.S., but a lot of our clients are overseas," says David M. Cieslak, principal of Information Technology Group, a Los Angeles-area Sage reseller with $4.8 million in revenue and more than 300 customers. "For a lot of (other) products, it's an add-on module. That's a huge difference from having it been built that way, grown up and interfaced with it as if it were designed for us (regardless of the country)."

Remaining database agnostic is also a competitive advantage. The software runs on both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems and with databases including IBMDB2, Pervasive.SQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server.

In July, the company launched Sage Accpac ERP 5.4, containing a whopping 267 new features, including a Return Materials Authorization module that allows clients to quickly track and bill for repairs; centralized, integrated returns management for tracking of sales items from the initial purchase order through the return; built-in Crystal Reports; and the ability to specify a tax reporting currency and to enter receipts with different currencies in a single batch.

In the end, what's important is keeping the lines of communication open with Sage about what their customers want, according to SystemLink's Beck.

"It's important that you manage your vendor as well as your customers," Beck says. "Good relationships (can result in) leads, PR opportunities, and you know who to ring if you need to get something accomplished."

Alexandra DeFelice is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at alexandra.defelice@sourcemedia.com.

Sage Accpac ERP

HQ: Pleasanton, Calif.

Phone: (800) 945-8007

Web: www.sagessoftware.com; www.sageaccpac.com

Founded: 1979 as Basic

Software Group

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