Cabinet NG keeps tabs on its channel before resellers even sign a deal. About 70 percent of leads go through the channel, and the vendor keeps prospect folders on each reseller to ensure it doesn't interfere if someone with whom they've started a relationship calls Cabinet NG directly.
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"By doing that, you're creating an environment where they want to work for you. If you favor the channel, they begin to trust you," says James True, vice president of business development.
Cabinet NG is also careful not to overpopulate a particular region with resellers so they are not stepping over each other's toes.
Resellers pay a $2,500 registration fee, which includes a five-user license of its main product, Cabinet NG-Safe (purchasing it at this price would only include two users), lead-generation assistance, technical support and marketing materials. They typically receive a 30 percent product discount as well as free ongoing maintenance and support after the first year.
Longtime reseller Roger Veach, CEO of Chillicothe, Ohio-based Advantage Data Systems, continues to see an increase in support from the vendor when it comes to lead generation and overall sales assistance.
"On several big projects, we needed aggressive help. They'd fly a guy in and help us with the demonstration," Veach says.
Of his roughly 650 clients, only about half a dozen are Cabinet NG customers, but those are "huge rollouts" with 50 to 100 users that often start in one department and carry through to the rest of the business.
Now ADS is in the process of creating a division with four people focusing on that product line.
"We see Cabinet NG as being a focal point of our business for many years to come," Veach says.
Connecting With Quickbooks
In May 2006, the vendor introduced a program for QuickBooks ProAdvisors to expand their offerings to include its QuickBooks-specific document management application, CNG-Books. This application allows users to scan in vendor bills and other documents and import the information directly into QuickBooks and file the image in Cabinet NG's shared access filing environment.
Cabinet NG is considering developing a similar program for Sage Software resellers, as it already has two products that might appeal to them-CNG-Safe for Peachtree and CNG-Safe plug-in for Act-but that process is still in a very early stage.
"The ProAdvisor program fills a unique need in the industry by focusing on accounting departments across several verticals including manufacturing, construction, finance and medical/health care," True says.
The CNG-Books Advisor Program attracted 45 resellers within a year of launch, accounting for more than half of the vendor's total channel. Participation costs $495 per year and includes on-site and remote support, access to online product training, business collateral, and two seats of CNG-Safe and CNG-Books software for internal use.
"If you're using the product, you're better qualified to show it. You need to eat your own dog food," True says, adding that his company uses its products internally as well.
One QuickBooks ProAdvisor who signed onto the program, Jeff Siegel, CPA, of Siegel & Stacey in the Boston area, uses it in his firm and enjoys the workflow and preview capabilities in addition to the QuickBooks integration.
The selling process has been slow for Siegel and some of the QuickBooks ProAdvisors because paperless is a low priority for their clients right now, but they believe that being in the know will prepare them for when their clients start asking for it, instead of having to refer those customers to someone else.
"I need to be knowledgeable on it so if I see the client needs it, I can offer it. The client sees part of my value to them is I'm up on all this [knowledge]," says Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, of Fort Lauderdale-based Daszkal Bolton and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor since 2002. "Since I'm doing all that legwork, I'd like to be in a reselling position so I can benefit."
This kind of mentality is part of the thought process behind creating the CNG-Books Advisor Program, and goes back to the idea of establishing trust.
"ProAdvisors are very strong influencers. There's a trust and relationship between the ProAdvisor and the customer," True says. "They present a value-add as opposed to trying to sell them something. It's that special bond between them and the people that we're trying to reach."
Siegel says he would like to see some more marketing material designed for QuickBooks users.
"They're missing a ProAdvisor kit to let me blast a [targeted] email out," he says. "Their approach is, 'We're small. Call us and we'll help you.' They want to do it right and they're going out of their way, but they're still in their infancy in terms of having all the infrastructure in place."
Letting Go Of Paper
The concept of "going paperless" became a stated goal of many of Siegel's clients, but he believes businesses often don't know what the process entails or how to get started. Even some of those that do still are not ready to let go of their paper and pencils.
Cabinet NG aims to ease the transition with a document management system that resembles a real filing room, complete with cabinets and folders with colored tabs.
"The software interfaces with the user in a physical world that's a familiar one," True says.
"A lot of document management systems are Windows Explorer-type (with hyperlinks)," he says. "That's OK for small audiences, you can maintain consistency if it's controlled. When you add users, that's when it breaks and people get frustrated. The fundamental benefit is being able to find what you're looking for."
This intuitive environment helps many of Cabinet NG's roughly 80 resellers convince prospects to make the investment.
"It is pretty simple just to put documents into it. You can train in 15 minutes. Other features you can learn later on if you want to," says Paul McDonald, owner of Stuart, Fla.-based Practically Paperless, which started reselling Cabinet NG in 2003.
McDonald also appreciates that the product stores everything relating to a client in one folder, regardless of whether it is in Excel, Word or another type of file.
"A lot of people file all their documents in My Documents, [so] if I need to see something you're working on, I need to get a hold of you," he explains. "If I set up a procedure to save everything in Cabinet NG, I know where everything is. I can come in and show them how to manage data and help them with things that normally get overlooked, like disaster recovery."
Florida obviously faces some bad weather, and going through rain-soaked documents can be horrific. Because everything is stored electronically with Cabinet NG, clients can retrieve all their documents within hours of rebuilding their networks, McDonald says.
Workflow features in the vendor's main product, CNG-Safe, allow users to establish rules to route documents to individuals or groups to speed up approval processes.
Version 5.8 of the product, which launched last November, introduced Dynamics Workflow, which enables users to route documents based on criteria like invoice amount or customer name. The status of all in-process workflows are displayed and can be approved or rejected from a single computer screen. Email Alerts show receipt of documents into each employee's Workflow Inbox and can escalate notifications to managers, if necessary.
Another feature that resellers appreciate is Preview, which provides a snapshot of documents without having to open them or the application in which they were created.
They also like CNG-Batch, added to the product last April, which allows for scanning several documents simultaneously and then filing them manually or automatically based on the individual's choice. Those who wish to do it manually can review each document on their monitor and select where to file it in CNG-Safe. Automatic filing can be achieved through scanned barcode data that identifies documents and determines where they should be stored.
Alexandra DeFelice is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cabinet NG Snapshot
HQ: Madison, Ala.
Phone: (800) 621-6501
Web site: www.cabinetng.com
Products: CNG-Safe, CNG-Books, CNG-Safe for Peachtree, CNG-Safe plug-in for Act, CNG-Forms