• August 9, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Sage Taps Experience to Lead Its Midmarket Segment

Sage Software has appointed Elvin Monteleone senior vice president and general manager of midmarket CRM solutions, placing him at the head of the company's attempt to grow the middle of its business and complete the change in North America from Best Software to the more international Sage. Monteleone will report to Jim Foster, executive vice president of Sage's midmarket division. Monteleone returns to Sage from financial services software vendor Omicron Financial, where he served as chairman and CEO; he had been executive vice president of sales, marketing, and services for Best Software specialty products before Sage Group acquired the company in 2000. Prior to that, he was vice president of marketing for Holistic Systems, whose BI technology is now part of Business Objects Crystal Reports. "Elvin has deep industry knowledge and an aggressive record contributing to business management success," Foster said in a prepared statement. "His skill set will help drive the growth of our market leading CRM solutions and enhance our freedom-of-choice strategy to provide the on-premises and hosted offerings today's customers require." "Sage is trying to streamline and incorporate its other brands under the Sage umbrella, and this is part of that initiative," says Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst for The 451 Group. "The company has many popular brands, so that means Sage has a lot of work to do in order to make this happen." The issue, according to Schneider, is the reseller-only distribution model Sage uses. "Sage is very popular in Europe and the U.K., but they're a virtually unknown software brand in North America. It's up to the partners to make rebranding a success, but thousands of partners makes this very complex," Schneider says. "Sage needs somebody who can maintain focus; Elvin Monteleone knows what it's like to deal with big brands." According to Schneider, this appointment and the overarching rebranding strategy is what Sage wants, but possibly not what it needs. "In my opinion Sage was better off streamlining the company, but leaving the brands alone," he says. "The end user doesn't consider that they're buying from Sage--they're buying from a local integrator, or one who specializes in their particular needs. So as a buyer, I may not care." In addition, he believes, there is the danger of muddying the waters. "ACCPAC customers became Best customers, and then became Sage customers, while ACCPAC is being replaced by Sage CRM. Loyal customers and partners have had to shift gears several times, and they may be wondering if they're still dealing with the people they know and trust at Best, or if Sage is a new entity who will change the landscape," Schneider says. "Sage is risking alienating their channel partners. They might get some marketing synergies by going global with a unified brand, but it will confuse things down in the trenches where individual sales are made." Related articles: Research Cuts to the Heart of the CRM Market
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