Could Master VARS Be On Sage’s Roadmap?

On Friday Accounting Today reported that Sage partner Blytheco hired former Sage executive Lori Seal to become their new COO.

Seal replaces Ruth Menter who departed along with several other executives in early June 2012.

Blytheco is a perennial Sage partner-of-the-year award winner and was just listed at # 10 on the Accounting Today VAR 100.

Initially the buzz  has been that Lori Seal may be on board at Blytheco to beef up Blytheco’s SaaS capabilities. The company recently became a Netsuite authorized partner after many years of exclusively representing Sage products.

This is quite possibly her mission – however I’m wondering if this hire could signal a more strategic change in the Sage channel.
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Sage All Hand Partner Meeting Hints At New Pricing Model Within 12 Months

Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon skippered an all-hands partner meeting Friday afternoon where all Sage North American partners were urged to attend.

The purpose of the call :

” to connect with our business partners and it is a result of my desire to communicate more with you. I look forward to speaking with you during this session. Please make every effort to attend.”.

The group call started around 1:05 PM and clocked out almost exactly at 1:15 pm ET making this possibly the shortest Sage all hands conference call that many had attended.

One commenter on the Sage LinkedIn group noted publicly “It ended so abruptly that I had a picture in my head of Pascal staring at a pile of note cards he had just dropped and ending the call in a panic”.

Still, by my count I’ve already met (twice) and heard from the new Sage CEO at least a half dozen times more than the prior CEO who was widely regarded by partners as distant and impersonal.

Whether it takes an hour or 15 minutes to deliver a message – what should matter is the message and not the time spent in idle chitchat.

So what was the message?

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Rob Johnson to Depart Sage for Avalara

I’ve been hearing for three weeks about possible changes at Sage however nobody was giving up any hints of who may have been leaving or what may have been changing.

Today I heard from two sources about one reported change.  Sage Senior Director, Channel Programs & Readiness Rob Johnson will supposedly depart the first week in September. According to those in the know Rob has accepted a position with sales tax automation and services provider Avalara as National Sales Manager.

Rob’s position as Sage was to work at the direction of  VP of  Channel Management  Tom Miller and prepare channel readiness programs – primarily in the form of sales training.

In addition to his speaking skills Rob is also the author of the book Kick Your Own Ass: The Will, Skill, and Drill of Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible. His Amazon bio describes him as:

 Robert Early Johnson is the head of all sales training for Sage North America, the leading supplier of business software for small and medium-sized businesses to over six million customers worldwide. He is Sage’s “front man” for transforming businesses and working to improve sales performance for Sage employees, partners, and customers worldwide. Previously, Johnson developed the Sage Sales Academy, an award-winning training program that has helped thousands of salespeople change the trajectory of their careers.

Rob’s departure follows additional recent departures this year – including the July 2011 departure of Laurie Schultz, SVP and GM, Mid-Market ERP Solutions, the May 2011  departure of Scott Zandbergen , VP Product Management, the April 2011 “retirement” of Sally Craig, VP Sales and the departure of CTO Motasim Najeeb.