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Talk about the new tool you developed to increase your partners' skills around new customer acquisition and channel marketing?
I think that tool is going to be extremely valuable as we look at a launch of programs, market by market, and try to be more finite in terms of helping our partners identify narrower targets within their markets to drive new customer acquisitions.
What the tool does is look at the Dun & Bradstreet Moody's data, which is updated monthly, and then allows partners to go in and slice and dice all the businesses in a particular MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). So a partner could go in, for example, and look at wholesale distributors of produce. I can get that finite in terms of identifying the market opportunity. It also will overlay what our existing customer data is and the partners we have in that particular market. So you can get a holistic look in terms of the opportunity.
We are looking at the addressable market per year and then making some determination of our share and whether there is an opportunity that makes sense for that local partner to go after.
What has been top-of-mind for you since you took this job?
First and foremost it was a learning process. Having been in this business for an extended period of time, I had some perception about Sage and the channel. The reality of it is completely different than what my perception was. I have spent the majority of my time really getting out to meet partners face-to-face and talk about the challenges they face. That has helped shape what we need to do in terms of helping them.
Initially we were looking at the functions on my team. This is the first time we have actually had a channel management team at Sage. The functions I have are channel marketing, distribution optimization and channel programs and enablement. Those functions were in different parts of the organization. Just assembling that has been a learning process along with understanding how we interact with the business units.
We are basically a service to the business units. The primary focus was really getting to a more disciplined analysis of distribution and opportunity.
We are really looking at the economics of our channel model and trying to understand from a more detailed perspective all of the components. For example, we spend an awful lot of money on co-op [advertising programs]. Are we really getting the return? Should we be taking that money and putting it into market development funds? We are analyzing that. We are looking at the commissions that we pay our internal salespeople who support our channel partners. What is the objective of those commissions, and are we getting the right behavior for those commissions?
So it is taking a really detailed look at all the elements that affect our channel partners and looking at [whether] we are we doing the right things there. Could we do them differently and really get a bigger return to create more value for our channel partners?
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