Sage North America is launching a new education program that includes development symposiums, workshops and Webcasts to help partners transition their businesses to a cloud-computing model.
Sage, which is holding its Summit customer and partner conference in Washington D.C. this week, also extended its cloud application product line with new online ERP and cloud-connected application services. The vendor also unveiled the Sage Partner Marketing Platform to assist resellers with their online marketing efforts.
The Sage Partner Transition Journey program, which was designed to help partners evolve their businesses for cloud computing, actually began earlier this year with a symposium called "Firm of the Future" that examined business models that rely as much on business consulting and intellectual capital as on technology. The symposium was designed to help partners expand their service offerings around cloud-based products.
"We have a lot of partners that we want to ensure make this journey with us," said Tom Miller, vice president of channel management at Sage, in an interview.
"In today's knowledge-based economy, customers expect us to engage with them in a more strategic relationship," said John Shaver, president of Aries Technology Group, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based Sage partner, in a statement. "The knowledge that we gain from the 'Firm of the Future' symposium, from learning how to establish value pricing to becoming effective project managers and executive leaders, will serve us well as we advise our customers on incorporating cloud services into their business processes."
Stephen Blythe, CEO of Laguna Hills, Calif.-based Blytheco, one of Sage's biggest partners, said of the symposium: "I learned that I have gotten complacent and it is time for a change."
Going forward the Partner Transition Journey program will offer Webinars and Webcasts and cover different computing models including cloud computing, outsourcing, hybrid systems and open-source technology, Miller said. Partners, for example, will learn what kinds of sales volumes they need to generate in a hybrid-computing environment to be successful.
Miller added that the program, which is open to all Sage partners, also would offer solution providers the opportunity to share knowledge and best practices with each other.
NEXT: Marketing Assistance Effort Already Generating Sales Leads
Sage began offering the new Sage Partner Marketing Platform on a limited basis with some 170 partners using the online system to send some 80,000 marketing e-mails that generated approximately 10,000 sales leads, Miller said. The company is now making it available to all partners.
While Sage solution providers are good at lots of things, "the vast majority would admit that marketing is the one thing they are not that good at," Miller said.
The platform assists resellers with a range of marketing activities including e-mail marketing campaigns, lead management, social media broadcasting, newsletters, sales prospect lists, integrated webinar and event campaigns, and product panels for partner Websites.
Miller said the online platform would help partners create and execute e-mail marketing campaigns, retain existing customers and upsell to them, promote new product and service offerings, qualify and manage new leads, and increase attendance at customer events. Partners also can measure the results of their marketing efforts, Miller added.
"Working with the tools offered through the platform, we simply loaded our prospect list, customized the ready-to-run campaigns and began sending monthly mailings," said Kent Hollrah, president of JMT Consulting, a Patterson, N.Y.-based Sage partner. "In just over three months we have generated 12 leads."
The Sage Partner Marketing Platform is the latest of a number of resources the vendor has developed for channel partners. The Marketing Assist Program helps partners improve their business skills and competencies while the Fast Track for Growth initiative helps them develop marketing campaigns to attract new customers.
At the conference Sage announced that it would launch Sage ERP MAS 90 Online, an on-demand version of the ERP application suite, this fall. Sage already sells a range of cloud-based applications and online services, including the Sage SalesLogix Cloud CRM application, Sage ERP Accpac Online, and Sage Payment Solutions for Sage Peachtree.
Sage also said that Sage SalesLogix Advanced Analytics, a new online analytics service for Sage SalesLogix Cloud, is now available. A version of the analysis service for the on-premise SalesLogix will be available later this summer. SalesLogix is Sage's enterprise CRM application.
Sage expects more than 1,450 partners to attend this year's Summit conference, up from about 1,000 last year, according to Miller.