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Vendor using big data to help partners design the right pitch for clients

Software

Business software vendor Sage North America has made a number of partner program enhancements as it looks to help partners add value and realign its channel structure – including making use of big data.

With the pending retirement of channel chief Tom Miller, the vendor is realigning its channel program and integrating the formerly separate channel team into the rest of the business, so it’s more closely aligned with Sage’s overall go to market. Accordingly, in the midmarket, Joe Langer will now be the channel lead as executive vice-president of midmarket solutions.

Sage is also well into a wider shift in strategic focus, moving away from emphasizing individual products to building the Sage brand and focusing in developing its core platforms, and acting more like one unified company. Channel investment has been part of that process, and Langner said it has already been paying off in growing new license sales and renewals, and increasing maintenance and support revenue.

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They’re building on that focus with three key new initiatives, and the first involves big data. Looking to use the information Sage has to help partners be better at working with customers, so Langner said they took data on 190,000 midmarket customers and built custom models predicting the probability of customers receiving value from various Sage products, and within different verticals. The model has ocer 130 variable including industry and location, within 18 products.

“We’re meeting with partners and showing them where there may be great opportunities for them to grow their business by introducing customers to new solutions,” said Langner. “What we’ve found is customers that use more than one product have higher net promoter scores and higher levels of satisfaction and retention.”

The second initiative is around supporting partner marketing. Sage had a co-op program, but Langner said it wasn’t as targeted as they wanted it to be. So, in concert with the data analysis, they’ve modified their sales support structure to include a new position – business growth managers. One will be assigned to each partner – in addition to their current partner account manager – focused exclusively on working with partners to craft strategies to better serve their customers.

“We’re reinventing co-op as an MDF (marketing development fund) program, and will have dollars available for investing in specific marketing campaigns,” said Langner. “We’ll get together with the partner, identify a strategy to help them grow their business through marketing, and co-fund it.”

Thirdly, Sage is supplementing its annual Summit conference with regional customer symposiums across North America to help the company reach more people. The current round is events is in the United States, but Canada will be part of phase two.