Sage makes channel program changes

After Sage North America announced its most recent round of job cuts last week, a number of other changes were also made affecting the channel, including the introduction of the company's partner advocates, new tier and margin adjustments, and new co-op marketing dollar incentives for partners, and more.

David Lahey, vice-president of sales for Sage North America, said the company has a new channel marketing organization which focuses on channel marketing, partner programs, partner education and partner strategy. Under its ERP solution division, the company has also announced a more streamlined regional sales structure, making it easier for partners to connect with the right people in the Eastern and Western part of the U.S. and Canada.

Each region has a dedicated executive overseeing it and Lahey, who has just re-located to Vancouver, said he will now be the executive taking care of Canada.

Paul Johnson, enterprise vice-president of sales for Sage North America's Sage business solution division, said that under this regional-based ERP strategy, Sage is aligning its sales teams under each regional leader. These individuals, he says, are what Sage is calling its partner advocates.

"We're committed to the channel and our partner advocates will be able to help our partners with their businesses," Johnson said.

"There will probably be about 20 people reporting into David in Canada."

The objective with the company's new partner advocates are around helping channel partners improve their businesses, in addition to helping them transition away from a transactional-method of selling towards a relationship-based sales model.

Partner advocates are essentially channel account managers that serve a particular region," Johnson said. "They also interface with people and provide sales tools too."

Darren Bibby, program director for software channels research at IDC, but based in Toronto, said the introduction of Sage's new partner advocates is a good thing for the company and its channel.

"Sage seems to have good relationships with partners because they're a channel focused company," Bibby said. "Regarding the channel advocate roles, it seems Sage has done a good job of rethinking the naming and structure of this role, which was already kind of in place before. This role should end up helping partners even more because it's one go-to-person for each partner now."

In addition to these new partner advocate roles, Johnson said in the next two to three weeks, Sage North America will be introducing its vice-president of channel management, which will report directly into Johnson on a daily basis.

"This person will be responsible for partner strategy, channel marketing and channel education," Johnson explained.

Johnson said Sage has also re-evaluated and adjusted its tiers and margins to be more industry competitive. For example, he said Sage has adjusted its partner level thresholds by 25 per cent up or down in some cases.

"We changed the tier structures because we want partners to earn more money by being able to reach these (higher) tiers," he said. "We also wanted to be more competitive with our margin payouts for some products, so we made some adjustments to margins based on products. In some cases, we adjusted margins by as much as 12.5 per cent up or down in an effort to drive more and new business into the Sage family and to also focus on new product generation."

Sage has also rolled out what it calls its Partner Re-Investment Initiative, which aims to put more marketing money into partners' pockets, Johnson said.

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