Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 Re-Branding Kicks In Starting May 15, 2012

Sage is starting to make notifications to at least one owner of a LinkedIn group with the brand name Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 that starting May 15, 2012 the name must be changed to reflect the new Sage 100 ERP branding.

This is the first time that we’ve noticed a timetable for the Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 products. Previously the timetable had loosely been defined as starting with the next major product release. For Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 that would have been late 2012 when Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 version 5.0 is due to be released Q4 2012.

5 Reasons MAS90 Quarterly Product Updates Were A Mistake

Sage 100 ERP (Formerly MAS 90 and 200) Product Updates issued quarterly have, in my opinion, been a failure.

Time to admit it. Bring back an annual upgrade and monthly service packs.

First some background.

Sage began issuing quarterly product updates with version 4.30 4.4 of Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200.

These updates contained feature enhancements (mostly folded in Extended Solutions which Sage used to sell but had since open sourced). Rather than increasing the version number the product update would add a corresponding Product Update version to the end of the customer’s version – for example Version 4.4 with Product Update 1 was 4.4.0.1.

Prior to version 4.30 4.4 Sage issued monthly bundles of program patches that they labeled as Service Updates. These were self-installable bundles of fixes which in turn had replaced the old method of requiring customers (or more likely their VARS) to install fixes individually.

The Service Updates rarely included additional features and instead focussed on stabilizing the existing code.

In theory these Product Updates would make customers happier as they introduced new features in each release and replaced the prior practice of annual upgrades and monthly service packs (primarily bug fixes).

Unfortunately from my vantage point quarterly Product Updates didn’t make most users’ live’s easier.

Continue reading “5 Reasons MAS90 Quarterly Product Updates Were A Mistake”

I’ll Get Back To You After I Check With My Boss

Despite Google’s turn away from a lot of inbound links as a determination of page ranking/relevance – the method still seems to work very well. These guys have done a great job of building inbound links and seem to be overtaking most people for the keyword of “MAS90”.

I’m not entirely sold on the value of single keywords. We get a fair amount of traffic from people searching for MAS90. Of that traffic a high percent converts to an inquiry. A very low percent converts to a paying engagement.

Web visitors asking for pricing information have been our most disloyal customers. If we lose a customer – more often than not it’s someone who found us via a generic web search.

Can you make money from these folks? Yes. Is it long term recurring revenue? In some cases it is but you sure have to “kiss a lot of toads” to find that diamond in the rough.

I’d guesstimate that to create one recurring revenue (meaning you’re paid an annual fee for support or other services for three years or more) that you have to talk with between 40 and 80 online inquiries.

And these initial discussions, based on my experiences, are usually more like hour long question and answer sessions. My guess is something like 90% of inquiries have no intention to pay anything for your help (you’ll recognize them because they’ll end the conversation with “I’ll get back to you after I check with my boss/mom/wife/grandma/wife/cfo/priest/accountant…”

My close rate on opportunities that I personally visit in my state or have been referred to is orders of magnitude higher than web leads (I bet we close 1 in 2 orphan visits) . Continue reading “I’ll Get Back To You After I Check With My Boss”

Why 90% of Web Inquiries Mostly Suck

The ugly truth behind web site forms…

People often ask how well web forms work for pulling in leads from visitors to my web site.

They’re not asking the technical how-tos of setting up the form – more like whether posting a form on your web site to gather names of leads works.

I typically use either Google Docs (Which allows you to create free forms to embed or link into your site) or on WordPress – Gravity Forms http://www.gravityforms.com/ – which I like because the CAPTCHA (anti-spam code you enter to submit the form) seems to work well. All other forms I’ve tried on WordPress produced more spam than they were worth. Continue reading “Why 90% of Web Inquiries Mostly Suck”

MAS 90 Inquiry: The Most Dangerous Kind

Last night just as I was going to bed I received an unexpected email from a user of Sage ERP MAS 90 version 3.xx.

It wasn’t from someone who I know – though that’s not all that unusual. We’re in the age of “self serve” where a Google search and an email solves nearly all problems – for free.

I’ll have to admit I’ve fallen for this trick once or twice in the past.

Here’s how the situation typically evolves.

A user of MAS90 software emails out of the blue stating that all they need is MAS90 software. No service. No advance discussions.  They’ll manage everything themselves.

Customers don’t know it. Some VARS don’t either. But there are several huge problems with this request – which is why I refuse to sell a box of software with no services.

There are many VARS under increasing pressure to meet software publisher sales goals or win an award who make the sale. And for a very short while they think that they “got lucky” to make such an “easy” sale.

In my experience these sales to strangers who have self–diagnosed their needs are the most dangerous. Though the stranger states that they need no assistance with installing, converting or configuring their software — the actual experience is quite different.

Here’s how it rolled last night — and my thoughts.

If you’re a Sage ERP consultant reading this – there’s an excellent chance you also received a copy of this. Most of these inquiries are email blasts sent to the first 10 or 20 consultants that the customer can find on the Internet. Never fool yourself into thinking that an inquiry such as this has singled only your company out for assistance (Tip: The last line of the request virtually guarantees that I’m not the first to have received this — the sender knew enough from prior quotes to ask that we not submit a price including any services).

Continue reading “MAS 90 Inquiry: The Most Dangerous Kind”

uh, there won’t be any money [How Internet Inquiries Are A Lot Like Carl Spackler’s Encounter With The Dalai Lama]

One of my favorite movie scenes is in Caddyshack.

It’s when landscaper Carl Spackler is talking to a caddy describing how he worked once for the Dalai Lama hauling golf bags through the Himalayas. After 18 holes of golf he finds suddenly that he’s not going to be paid – but the Dalai promises another form of “compensation”.

Carl’s oblivious to the reality that he’s been promised some future potential compensation for hard work delivered in the present.

Is the story of Carl and the Dalai all that different than the experiences you might have with consulting clients? Generally I find that most referrals turn into long term mutually beneficial relationships.

However one type of prospect has proven to be tougher to convince of the value of experienced  consulting services. Like the Dalai from the story told by Carl, these types of prospects want all your hard work for free — or for the promise of some future possible compensation.

I’m talking about Internet support leads – and  here are my experiences with trying to be fairly compensated.

Continue reading “uh, there won’t be any money [How Internet Inquiries Are A Lot Like Carl Spackler’s Encounter With The Dalai Lama]”

Craigslist As A Lead Source

This morning I spotted a posting on the free online classified advertisement site Craigslist for MAS90 MAS200 EXPERTS!!!

You can click the image on the left and read the whole advertisement. The bigger question for most consultants is whether these types of free advertising sites work to attract prospects?

Yes! This advertising works. It will attract responses. You may even be busier than you ever imagined – so long as you don’t mind working for three kinds of people (and they all share a common distaste for paying for consulting fees).

Here are the three primary types of prospect you’ll be sure to attract with a free advertisement that primarily offers low cost services.

Continue reading “Craigslist As A Lead Source”

If you’re not offering support plans then your clients are stealing your time

bank robberThe best way to assure that you never make any money on support is to promise  you’ll create a prepaid annual support plan for your clients — some day.

That mythical  “some day” never seems to arrive for most of us.

Because we’re busy putting out other client forest fires. Then for a while the “pay as you go” support works pretty well.  Since you’re busy – no need to worry about changing the way you bill.

Suddenly as the economy ebbs and flows your billable support calls trail off. Clients stop calling. Without incoming phone calls you have no reliable source of income. Yet you still have the expense of paying staff to sit by the phone and wait for calls.

Think of how crazy the pay-as-you-go support model is.

For absolutely no money (unless a client calls) you staff a call center with people who will respond to a client call on a moment’s notice. If you’re not offering a support plan – clients pay you nothing for setting up this support center.

See a problem yet?

Continue reading “If you’re not offering support plans then your clients are stealing your time”