The Microsoft reseller was quite candid—Sage Software’s MIP nonprofit package was better than what Microsoft offered for the same purpose, and less expensive. Similarly, even though the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 was substantially better than the previous package, it was still nowhere as good as Sage’s SalesLogix.

The way to combat these products was to sell the Microsoft name.

When competing directly with SalesLogix “feature for feature, we lose.” So the reseller pitches the Dynamics line based an Outlook-like interface, selling it as “Outlook on steroids,” and said the only way to get Dynamics CRM up to snuff was to use a variety of third-party products.

Ah, the advantages of the brand name.

A vendor that recently visited our offices made the same point when asked about why its marketing efforts weren’t better in getting its software known among end-users.

“We’re not Microsoft,” he replied.

The reseller used the same comparison I’ve used in explaining the power of the Microsoft name. In the 1980s, the phrase applied to IBM was, “You can’t get fired for buying IBM.” In the last 10 years, that can be amended to, “You can’t get fired for buying Microsoft” although there are instances when buyers should be fired.

But the name breeds a feeling of security.

There’s no secret that the Great Plains name is probably the only general accounting software package that is widely known. But clearly, Sage and other competitors have been able to overcome that initial advantage.  Still, there’s evidence that the Microsoft name is tipping the CRM market more toward Dynamics.

How can Sage more effectively compete?

The reseller had the same thought I have had which is that it should use the leverage it should get from its ancillary products, such as the FAS fixed asset line, and the ABRA human resource and payroll products.

If Sage could get more exposure for its accounting line among those customers, it could do well. But I think it needs to move quickly, before the Microsoft name gathers even more momentum.


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