Intuit Ramps Up QuickBooks Enterprise5:32 PM EST Mon. Nov. 05, 2007
After piloting a channel program for its QuickBooks Enterprise accounting software for more than a year, Intuit is ramping up the reseller effort and aiming to enlist 250 solution providers by mid-2008. The initiative will help Intuit expand its sales into the midmarket where it competes head-to-head with Microsoft Dynamics, Sage MAS and other financial management applications.
While Intuit has long sold its QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier applications to small businesses through independent accountants and financial consultants, the new Intuit Solution Provider Program marks a big expansion of the software vendor's channel efforts. "We feel we've now got a good framework to get us out into the marketplace," said Jim Gregg, channel director of Intuit's midmarket group. "This channel is giving us access to customers that we just couldn't see through direct sales."
The popular QuickBooks Enterprise has been around for about four years -- Intuit debuted QuickBooks Enterprise 8.0 in late September. But before now Intuit only sold the product directly. In mid-2006, the vendor created a mid-market group with some 200 employees and sales of about $50 million. That included developing the pilot channel program that initially included about 70 solution providers drawn mostly from the ranks of Intuit's Pro Advisor reseller network. Since then it's added another 30 who resell products from Microsoft, Sage and Novell.
The reseller program could number as many as 800 partners within three years, said Gregg, adding that he expects QuickBooks Enterprise direct and channel sales to eventually be evenly split.
Intuit is offering resellers 25 percent margins on QuickBooks Enterprise and the opportunity to earn additional commissions up to 25 percent based on sales performance. Channel partners can also earn quarterly commissions up to 2 percent for their participation in the Live Community QuickBooks Enterprise online forum and annual commissions up to 6 percent based on customer satisfaction scores through Intuit's Net Promoter customer satisfaction research program. (Channel partners that score high on Net Promoter also win credits for Intuit training and will be given first dibs on premium sales leads, Gregg said.)
And if a channel partner has done most of the groundwork for a deal and the customer chooses to buy directly from Intuit, the vendor will pay the channel partner a consulting fee equal to 15 percent of the software sale.
Technology In A Box, a solution provider with offices in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee, was the first to sign on with the new program and has made big investments in its call center operations and IT infrastructure -- including new Cisco voice-over-IP phone systems -- to support anticipated customers. "We really see in the next two to three years explosive growth in the QuickBooks Enterprise realm," said Andrew Abrams, Technology In A Box CEO.
Abrams, whose company also partners with Microsoft and Dell, said the high quality of the sales leads Intuit is providing to channel partners demonstrates the vendor's commitment to the channel. He said he's seeing a lot of demand from customers that want to migrate from Microsoft Dynamics to the lower-cost QuickBooks system.
OFFiS Corp., a Wallingford, Conn., solution provider, joined the program because QuickBooks "is ubiquitous and we were looking for a source for new business," said president Dick Harvey. While he said the base 25-point margin offered by Intuit is a bit low compared to other vendors' margins, he noted that Intuit is offering incentives for greater sales volumes.
"I like the company and the program they've put together," Harvey said. While he thinks the company is more used to working with end users and is still learning how to work with the channel, "They're listening, and that's refreshing," he said.
To join the program, Intuit requires that prospective channel partners provide a written business plan with details about the professional services and additional software they will offer as well as four referenceable mid-market customers. And they have to commit to having at least one full-time employee certified in all Intuit solution provider program requirements. They have to sell at least four QuickBooks Enterprise systems per fiscal year and maintain customer satisfaction levels. There is a $1,000 initiation fee, a $1,500 first-year membership fee and a $1,500 annual renewal fee.