Best Heeds Sage Advice


Newly renamed company launches new products, services


Best Software has a new name and a slew of products and programs for the channel.

After a futile attempt to pull together under the Best Software umbrella various products acquired during a multiyear buying spree, Best gave up and renamed the company Sage Software.

The decision to change the company's name starting this month was announced in March. Partners have until March 2006 to come into compliance with the new branding schemes.

Ron Verni, president and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Sage Software, said that while the company's efforts to create a single brand around a range of business applications continues to be "a journey," the North American unit of Sage experienced a 30 percent increase in revenue and a commensurate increase in net income through acquisitions and organic growth. The company now has revenue of $1.3 billion and has software installed in more than 4.5 million businesses.

In addition to launching the new naming convention for the company, Sage Software also unveiled 25 new products, upgrades and services that will be available between now and Sept. 30. The products, announced last week at the company's Insights 2005 partner conference in Dallas, include a range of new software-as-a-service offerings.

The new services include Act! Premium for the Web, which is a hosted implementation of Sage's contact management application; a rebranded SageCRM.com offering based on the Accpac product Sage acquired from Computer Associates; and Sage Payroll Services, which can be integrated with Sage's on-premise accounting applications.

Sage also released a rebranded Sage CRM on-premise application as part of an effort to give partners the option of selling either a hosted or on-premises CRM solution. Like its online counterpart, Sage CRM is identical to the company's existing Accpac product.
Gary Phillips, president

of Executive Automation, West Lafayette, Ind., said while he does not yet fully comprehend all the changes being made, he is generally comfortable with Sage's approach to the market because it allows him to sell applications that are tailored to specific markets rather than forcing customers to adopt a single application for all solutions.

"There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all market," Phillips said.

He added that he likes the idea of being able to sell Web-based software or install the same software at a customer's site depending on the requirements of the customer, because "either way, we can still make the sale."

To provide an added incentive to that model, Sage also announced that customers who want to switch from a service model to an installed software model can devote 50 percent of the money they spent on the Sage CRM service in the first year toward the purchase of installed Sage software.

For the channel, Sage announced it would renew its 100/100 program under which it will spend another $1 million over the next year to train another 100 field sales executives across 100 different partners in 100 days.

The company is also creating a Sage Consulting Academy to fund training of consultants working for solution providers, and has a Fast Track 100 program under which partners can invest $5,000 to receive sales and consulting training, lead-generation tools, partner benchmarking, custom sales and marketing plans and mentoring relationships. Sage will give partners a rebate of $1,000 for each new customer acquired, until the $5,000 investment is recouped.