Building relationships with customers is at the heart of many businesses. But keeping track of evry interaction with each customer can't all be done in an executive's head. Enter CRM technology.
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Sage Software has three versions of its customer relationship management software, not including ACT, which is more of a simple contact management tool. They include SageCRM, SageCRM.com (the Web-based version of SageCRM) and SalesLogix.
Roughly 450 North American resellers of Sage's 6,000 total concentrate on CRM, and only about 35 percent of them sell both the CRM and SalesLogix product lines. The latter tends to be a sweet spot for companies with 50 or more users seeking deep customization. CRM is popular among Sage's Accpac ERP user base because of the strong integration and lower price point-starting at $595 per-user license for a limited functionality version of CRM scalable to 30 seats compared to $1,095 per user for SalesLogix.
"Larger customers typically have a unique business need with huge amounts of customization. It's almost a development environment," says Bob Neeser, vice president of sales for CRM solutions.
His philosophy is backed up by Sage's search for new partners not based on geography, but rather on vertical expertise, particularly in the financial community. If a VAR is successful with one product, Sage might encourage him or her to take on additional products or open another office in a region where partners are scarce.
In May 2006, Nicholas Kyriazis, partner at SalesLogix reseller SyncSite, agreed to take on SageCRM and completed three installations within a year.
Now Birmingham, Ala.-based SyncSite, which consistently has been among the top sales performers comprising Sage's President's Circle for SalesLogix, is "trying to make it happen with CRM."
The company dedicated two tech people and one sales person to the CRM product and would like to install 10 new CRM customers and 20 SageCRM.com customers in addition to at least one SalesLogix customer per month by next May when Sage will hold its next reseller conference.
THE NEXT TIER
Sage also is encouraging resellers of noncompetitive products or with diverse areas of expertise to partner with one another, thereby bringing the partner program to the next echelon.
Tony Castle, CEO and founder of New York-based Castle CRM, is taking this mission seriously. In April, he and four other resellers joined forces to form Consilience Global Partners. By definition, consilience is "the linking together of principles from different disciplines."
This group plans to drawn on each member's technical skills, certifications and product focus to create a nationwide presence with offices in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Presales and marketing efforts are consolidated and they present each other as partners to their prospects. Ultimately, they plan to provide a common help desk for customer support and offer a variety of vertical market CRM applications, including those for investment banking, equipment manufacturers and distributors and commercial real estate offices.
Castle also teams with resellers behind the scenes. As customers increasingly express interest in taking their information on the road, resellers must figure out how to mobilize CRM for them. He eliminates that learning curve by providing remote installation, configuration and testing of SalesLogix Mobile for five users at a one-time cost of $1,995 under the Quick Start Program.
Enhanced capabilities in version 5.0 of SalesLogix Mobile is a big selling point for R.J. Ledger, president of Mansfield, Mass.-based RjlSystems, who began selling SalesLogix around 2002.
"Now we can write something and push it to multiple platforms. That's a tremendous strategic weapon in the war of the software business," he says.
He applauds Sage's September 2006 acquisition of the mobile division of Canadian software company Corum Corp., which specializes in mobile CRM technology and provides Sage with the infrastructure and functionality needed to design, build and deploy mobile applications.
Castle and other resellers also appreciate that Sage is expanding its products beyond its core competencies. Many point to advanced customization and the business intelligence capabilities found in Visual Analyzer in the 10th anniversary edition of SalesLogix, version 7.2.
Visual Analyzer utilizes QlikTech's BI applications and features 10 interactive and customizable dashboards, including those for forecasting, marketing and opportunity management, to provide a consistent perspective of data analysis for employees at all levels throughout the company, helping them make business decisions.
"They want to extend the product to the executive who pays for the system, driving BI to the mid-market at a cost-effective price," Castle says. "It's a dashboard that can wow executives. It's got pizzazz and it slices and dices information (as opposed to providing static reports). You'd have to hire someone to manage it and figure it all out."
Version 6.0 of SageCRM and version 6.1, scheduled for release this summer, also focus on user friendliness. The new Training and Coaching area provides step-by-step instructions on how to get started and provides quick tips on recurring themes through an extensive online library that Sage's Neeser says helps drive adoption.
Sage also is trying to make sure its reseller become familiar enough with these tools to teach their clients to use them effectively. It is offering free two-hour Web-based implementation training on 7.2 through September, when the cost will be $195, according to Neeser. Classroom development courses will cost $995 or $1,800 for two people.
"We're trying to encourage our partners to go fast and spend less time in the classroom," he says.
BEYOND BASIC BENEFITS
At Sage's May 2007 reseller conference in Orlando, the vendor also launched new sales and marketing coaching, recruiting and healthcare programs for all channel members, adding to more than a dozen opportunities resellers already can take advantage of under the Partner Advantage Program, several of which earn them increased margins and co-op dollars:
Marketing: Duct Tape Marketing will provide a series of seminars and workshops on creating a marketing strategy. Referral Flood provides the tools to set up a referral network through powergroup teleconferences for one month for $399. Search Engine Local Directory Listings to help VARs appear high on local search sites cost $179 per year. The company also will generate referrals for accountants and provide personal coaching for a negotiated monthly fee ranging from $1,500 to $2,500.
Helping Sales People Succeed: One-on-one weekly training sessions with Mahan Khalsa, a business development expert and author of "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play."
One hundred slots were announced at Insights and all of them were filled within two days. Resellers currently pay $800 per month per salesperson. In January, that fee will increase to $1,000 per month and the program will be extended to other channel members.
Timeshare Recruiting: Business owners can pay up to one-third of an employee's salary in recruiting cost. This program offers a flat fee of $6,500 per position.
BenefitProtect: Healthcare is among the top three expenses small business owners encounter, along with salaries and rent, according to Taylor Macdonald, executive vice president of channel and sales operations.
BenefitProtect provides coverage options from insurance companies including Aetna, Humana and Assurant and ranges from major medical to dental and term life insurance. Premiums can be collected from each employee or executive's individual bank account so there is no payroll administration, and each employee or Independent contractors can keep his or her individual policy with no financial responsibility to the business owner and no minimum requirements.
The Step Up Promotion: This financing program lets members acquire software now and pay only $99 a month for the first six months for terms ranging from two to five years.
Saving Money with Sage: This program already existed but now adds services from FedEx, infoUSA, Orbitz, OfficeMax and Sprint for volume buying power.
Alexandra DeFelice is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.