Oracle VAR Shows How To Play In Peoria

That's because Zapar, CEO of Oracle reselling partner Re-Quest, focuses on businesses that can fall below the software vendor's radar.

That certainly was the case with MultiAd, which typically pulls in less than $20 million in annual revenue. The Peoria, Ill.-based company prints high-gloss advertising materials and manages digitally formatted ad collateral for its clients. But although MultiAd was a longtime user of Oracle Database 7, Oracle had practically forgotten about the company. By the time Zapar first called on MultiAd in 2001, almost seven years had passed since Oracle had last contacted the company. It was Zapar who alerted MultiAd to Oracle's E-Business Suite of financial applications. And it was Zapar's company, Re-Quest, that pursued the applications sale for more than a year.

"During that sales cycle, Oracle went through four applications reps, so that we were the only consistent face to the customer," Zapar said. "Without a partner's help, that deal would have fallen through the cracks."

Indeed, in many ways, Re-Quest's efforts with MultiAd provide a textbook example of how solution providers can play in places like Peoria when a vendor's direct-sales force cannot. Because while Oracle's internal sales reps came and went, Re-Quest's unflagging presence has produced a longterm relationship with MultiAd.

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"Re-Quest has the ideas and knowledge we need for changing our business," said Shelby Vaughn, MultiAd's controller. "They will be our implementers as we continue to grow—not only as a company but also as we add to the Oracle umbrella. They will suggest which new Oracle modules make sense for us to purchase."

Ironically, Zapar's initial call to MultiAd—part of a six-company road show in Peoria—had been set up on behalf of Oracle's database business. A rep from Oracle's core technology group even accompanied Zapar to MultiAd's offices to suss out potential reasons to upgrade. Then, as the meeting wound down, Zapar asked: Is there anything else MultiAd needed to know?

The answer: Did Zapar know of any financial applications that would work with Oracle's database?

Zapar put on his applications hat, telling the CIO—and then the CFO—about the Oracle E-Business Suite. "While I'm talking, the core tech guy is tapping his fingers and looking at the ceiling," Zapar said. "We agreed that I should come back later with my own salespeople, talk about their business processes and understand how the Oracle applications can help them."

More than a year later, in 2003, MultiAd bought Oracle E-Business Suite. Over the course of 2004, Re-Quest's team helped MultiAd create a single financial system to handle its accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger and inventory. That single system will save at least six workdays a month by eliminating the need to hand-enter information between the different functions, Vaughn said. Earlier this month, MultiAd placed new orders for Oracle's CRM, Human Resources and Project Costing modules.

It's important to note that Re-Quest started this process long before Oracle introduced Special Edition, its E-Business Suite packaged and priced specifically for the small-business market. Yet Re-Quest sold the whole soup-to-nuts solution—starting with what the customer needed immediately, then laying out a growth path enabling online invoices, business-intelligence analysis and a Web site for taking orders.

"We differentiated Oracle Financials applications from the other vendors MultiAd was looking at—not because it's particularly sexy, but because it addressed the big picture vision of where they could go," Zapar said. "An Oracle rep will try to get a quick transaction and then get out and forget about the implementation. But Oracle didn't even know who this company was, even though it had been a database customer. We helped MultiAd start today and then grow."