Sage’s Channel Challenge

sage hellpA consultant emailed me their opinion of  what they believe Sage North America’s biggest channel challenge is with respect to cross selling add-ons to existing customers.

I think this closely summarizes the thoughts of other partners who have been questioning the recent moves by the company to sell more servies (support) and products directly to customers.

Product sales have historically been offered only through Sage’s partner channel – though increasingly I’m told by multiple sources that Sage is ramping up what some may consider to be an aggressive push to market and sell more directly into some customers of smaller partners with fewer than 49 customers.

Certainly Sage is not alone in their channel challenges though it’s rare that we’ve seen a channel company bypass partners and remain a vibrant partner centric company (the old Macola and Epicor come to mind as two examples of ERP companies who bypassed their channels and never seemed to regain their full channel strength).

Here’s the summary – which to me seems to capture quite a lot of the backchannel chatter between Sage partners regarding cross selling initiatives under way at Sage:

If Sage has a partner channel, then sell and service through the channel. Partners don’t move product that they either don’t understand, don’t believe in or is too difficult to work with. If SI (Sage Intelligence)  was worthwhile, I’d be all over it. Who doesn’t want an easy tool to mine data?
We’re now getting to the point where both partners and Sage are calling clients, each with a separate agenda. Users will tire of being poked & prodded, and no one wins. Partners aren’t selling SI because they’re lazy. They’re not pushing it because Sage hasn’t demonstrated that SI is a superior solution (compared to alternatives). So when Sage can’t get the channel excited about a product, they’ll try to sell directly to customers.
When developers or software publishers call my clients, pitching products and services, they cease being business partners and become competitors… and I’ll treat them as such. It’s just that simple.