Best Software kicked off its Insights 2005 partner conference in Grapevine, TX, by officially dropping the Best name in favor of Sage Software, a more internationally recognized brand inspired by parent company Sage Group. The change, first announced in March, is one of several programs that better present the company as a global organization providing a broad range of products and services to business customers.
After an introduction highlighting Sage's vision, President and CEO Ron Verni's keynote speech noted such statistics as his company's 30 percent CAGR, $1.3 billion in revenue, and 4.5 million businesses served. The strength built on these numbers, according to Verni, places Sage in a position to expand its business model with 25 key new products, major upgrades, and services launching between now and September 30.
The most significant expansion is Sage CRM, the company's first venture into software-as-a-service. Sage CRM is the same full-suite, configurable product already available as on-premise software, now in hosted form. This will tie in with Sage's new rent-to-own program, claimed as an industry first, wherein Sage will return up to 50 percent of a customer's hosted subscription fees if they move to an on-premises CRM suite from Sage Software in the first year of service. "You don't always know your business' true needs until the system is implemented," Verni says. The availability of Sage CRM as both software and SaaS, combined with the interchangeability in pricing, will open the door for sales to organizations regardless of their preference.
Another announcement with considerable potential is the expansion of Sage Payroll Services offerings to include midmarket companies. The outsourced payroll service, similar in nature to competitors ADP and Paychex, will build upon the company's existing Peachtree Payroll Service software for small businesses, which has gathered more than 5,000 users in the past four years. Sage Payroll Services features tight integration with Sage products MAS 90, MAS 200, and Abra HRMS, with more to come. Verni describes the pricing structure as "extremely competitive, and a great opportunity--you can deliver payroll any way your customers want it."
Verni turned the keynote discussion over to Taylor Macdonald, executive vice president of channel and sales operations for Sage Software, who announced a series of programs designed to assist Sage's partners. The company is renewing its 100/100 program, which provides $10,000 to each of 100 partner firms to select, hire, and train a dedicated salesperson. In a similar vein, Sage is introducing Fast Track 100, combining sales and consulting training, lead generation, benchmarking versus other partner firms, mentoring, and support to develop a custom sales and marketing plan. The partner benchmarking in Fast Track 100 is the fruit of an alliance between Sage and financial information network iLumen. In total, business partners will receive $8,000 worth of training and services for the $5,000 program investment. This cost can be offset by the $1,000 credit each participant firm earns for recruiting a new customer, potentially earning back the investment. Other programs announced by Macdonald include the creation of Sage Partner University, which includes Sage Alliance Boot Camp and Sage Project Management Boot Camp, and expansions to Saving Money With Sage and the Sage Channel Marketing Programs series.
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