SugarCRM Enlists Long-Time Sage Partner Blytheco

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Solution provider Blytheco, one of Sage Software's largest resellers, has joined SugarCRM's partner program and will resell the company's CRM applications under a deal disclosed Wednesday.

Blytheco CEO Stephen Blythe said his company would continue to resell Sage products -- including its CRM applications that compete with SugarCRM -- and he has no plans to decrease his Sage-related business.

"This was a big change for us to take on a non-Sage product," Blythe acknowledged in an interview, noting that the solution provider has been a Sage partner for more than 30 years. Additional partnerships with other vendors are likely, he said. "I would expect that we would be taking on other product lines shortly."

Blythe has been investing in employee training in SugarCRM's technology and is running a marketing campaign to promote Blytheco's new SugarCRM business. Altogether Blythe expected to spend between $500,000 to $1 million over a 24-month period on the new business.

Blythe was careful to emphasize that the decision to resell SugarCRM's products stems from Blytheco's desire to expand its CRM business and grow in new areas, rather than resulting from any discontent with Sage. CRM now accounts for 20 percent of Blytheco's business (ERP applications account for 80 percent), but Blythe said CRM is growing rapidly and his goal is for it to account for 50 percent of his company's business within two-to-three years.

"Sage has a large and diverse channel serving 3-plus million SMB customers in North America, and we are not heavily reliant on any one partner’s performance," said Tom Miller, Sage vice president of channel management, in a statement about the Blytheco-SugarCRM deal.

"Although we prefer that our partners focus their attention on Sage, this is a business decision that Blytheco has made, and we understand the nature of it. As always, we continue to value Blytheco as a Sage partner and to collaborate with them on a daily basis to support our customers and drive the business forward," he said.

SugarCRM touted its partnership with Blytheco, based in Laguna Hills, Calif., as a strategic win. "Our success is dependent upon signing up partners like Blytheco," said Nick Halsey, SugarCRM's chief marketing officer, in an interview. The company has some 350 channel partners and the channel accounts for almost all of the company's sales, he said.

Blythe was attracted to SugarCRM because the software is a platform that Blytheco can use to develop customized systems for clients in vertical industries and to build services around. "Customizations are critical for us and for our customers," he said. He also was impressed with the company's product roadmap and called the application's social media capabilities "very compelling."

SugarCRM offers both open-source and commercial versions of its applications and both Halsey and Blythe said that practice results in the product having high-quality code. Blythe also said SugarCRM has an online app store where it can sell its customized products.

Sage Software is in the process of renaming many of its products, dropping some original names of long-ago acquired products and emphasizing the Sage brand. Blythe acknowledged having mixed feelings about the re-branding effort, maintaining that it "takes away from some of the strong brands Sage has." But he said that issue was not a factor in his move to partner with SugarCRM.

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