Orlando, Fla. (June 3, 2003) -- Between healthy rounds of Microsoft bashing and quelling concerns over the company’s recent internal consolidation, Best Software chief executive Ron Verni mapped out “a clear path to growth” in what he still sees as a “three-horse race” among accounting software makers.

Verni made pointed remarks about his company's prospects in competition with Intuit and Microsoft as he addressed an enthusiastic crowd of 2,200 (mostly resellers) here to kick off Best’s Insights Conference.

Verni said he feels Best has a better game plan than his chief competitor: Microsoft and its Business Solutions division.

“Their strategy is not clear,” Verni said. “They don’t have the good [product] migration we have. We are not going to flood the market with 10,000 other partners and you will get better margins.”

The issue of Best creating two new divisions from six business units and how the move will affect the company and its resellers dominated the majority of Verni’s speech.

“All we want to do is make this company easier to deal with and I know in the past it wasn’t there,” Verni said, referring to difficulties resellers have had in doing business with so many different units. “We will make mistakes. We won’t be perfect. But if we are to be simpler, more streamlined, and customer-focused we will need your help.”

Verni indicated there would be several incentives for resellers to consider in exchange for their aid. For this, he brought out Dave Butler, head of customer & channel operations.

Butler described a partner referral program that encourages resellers to partner with others who sell products that they do not. In return, the referring partners will earn a 10 percent margin and a 50 percent tier credit in their product category.

Butler also briefly mentioned a plan whereby partners who switch to exclusively reselling Best products “will be generously rewarded.” He also mentioned to a new product coming in the next three-to-six months that will aid product integration for their customers.

Post speech, some resellers were cautiously optimistic.

“I understand their position and these are good programs, but many of us who have been reselling Best products for a while know it hasn’t always been easy,” said Lissa Johnsen, a CPA and president of Raleigh, N.C. reseller Business Technology Solutions Inc. “There was a time when you had to deal with two or three different people just to sell one product, but it looks like those times are behind us.”

-- Seth Fineberg

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