Microsoft Taps Ingram Micro

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Microsoft is enlisting Ingram Micro's help to sell its SMB accounting software through an emerging breed of influencer,the certified public accountant (CPA).

The developer believes Ingram Micro's SMB solution providers can help reach CPAs.

"We realized that to reach the scope of partners we were going after and the service we want to provide, we needed to engage a distributor," said Dave Waldrop, channel sales manager for Microsoft's Great Plains Business Solutions Division.

Stegner: Ingram Micro will team VARs with CPAs.

Ingram Micro has been named the first distributor for Microsoft Great Plains Small Business Manager 6.2. At the same time, Microsoft is recruiting CPAs.

"There are 132,000 independent CPAs in the United States. It's an open market for Microsoft and for Ingram Micro," Waldrop said.

Ingram Micro hopes to partner its solution providers with CPAs to create specific opportunities with end users, said Bob Stegner, vice president of channel and U.S. marketing at Ingram Micro.

Microsoft Great Plains Small Business Manager 6.2 includes banking, payroll, sales and purchasing capabilities and is available to all Ingram Micro solution providers, but the distributor's VentureTech Network members will receive initial incentives to sell the product, Stegner said. Many VentureTech members have expertise selling to accountants already, he said.

CPAs are increasingly influential partners for Network Management Group, said Steve Harper, president of the Hutchinson, Kan.-based solution provider. "The CPA is the trusted adviser for small businesses. We've found a niche training CPA firms on technology," he said.

Waldrop estimated that 75 percent of small businesses seek accountants' recommendations when purchasing accounting software. Resellers will receive the same pricing discounts from Ingram Micro that they received from Microsoft, he said.

This is the first time Great Plains software has been available in the two-tier channel, Waldrop said.

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