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But the company has undertaken a number of initiatives -- some unveiled at Insights -- to improve the competitive position of the company and its channel partners.
Of most direct interest to channel partners are a number of new leadership and business strategy training courses, marketing assistance programs, and efforts to help partners hire marketing and consulting talent. Those initiatives were detailed by Tom Miller, vice president of channel management, in a keynote speech Tuesday.
“It really helps us to put together our marketing plans. They’re really giving me the tools to run my business more effectively,” said Mark Dresser, president of Dresser Associates, a reseller of the Sage Abra human resource and payroll management application, praising the new channel training and marketing assistance programs. “We’ve had to become more customer-centric and they’ve had to become more business-partner-centric.”
On the product side Sage has consolidated management of its ERP products, a move the company hopes will result in more efficient product development and encourage channel partners to cross-sell more products. The company also is focusing more on markets rather than individual products. At Insights, for example, opening night receptions for partners were organized according to product groups, rather than specific products, bringing together resellers of the company’s CRM products: SageCRM, SalesLogix and Act, for example.
The company has beefed up its product review processes to improve the quality of new and existing software products. And it’s improving links between its products, such as its CRM and accounting applications, to broaden sales and encourage cross-selling by solution providers.
“They been doing an impressive job,” said Sam Biardo, CEO of Technology Advisors, a Des Plaines, Ill.-based Sage partner, of the CRM development and product integration efforts.
Sage is also trying to build up the “Sage” brand name and Swenson said a company survey of SMBs in the company’s target market found a 33 percent improvement in name recognition. Plus Computer Solution' Gorrie said, however: “There’s work to be done on the branding side.”
The company also unveiled a “connected services” strategy to expand into cloud computing. But Sage executives were careful to say channel partners would play a major role in selling cloud-based products.
And under the ubiquitous mantra of “extraordinary customer experience,” repeated by Sage executives throughout the conference, Sage is making it easier for customers and channel partners to work with the vendor. Sage, for example, previously had 41 customer support and maintenance plans. Those are now consolidated into a simple Bronze-, Silver- and Gold-tier support program that spans all of the company’s products, Palsule announced.