How Consultants Can Win With The New Sage Business Care Changes

Thought for the day.

As a Sage partner do you feel as if you’re taking a spanking with the new Business Care changes – which boost the lowest priced Sage ERP 100, 300, 500 maintenance plan by 3% and add 5 customer calls direct to Sage?

Are you thinking your days of selling support to customers are done and over – just because Sage is going to duplicate your offering and deliver a limited help desk experience?

One thing to remember. With these changes to the Sage 100, 300, 500 Business Care plans — customers will no longer have an pay-as-go support option with Sage.

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Why 2012 Should Be Your Year of Being Local

Now is the time to call your support agreements something other than support  and make services other than help desk/ break-fix be the focus of those recurring plans. You are offering recurring agreements to customers, right?

For MAS90 we are largely over the complex upgrade hump so creating an “access agreement” where you:

– provide x on-site planning and strategy meetings – up to y product update installs – up to z version upgrades

This is our “special sauce” that will keep out most competitors who don’t have a local presence.

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My Heating Company Is Smarter Than Me

My heating guy is here. He’s looking at my furnace today.

The checkup is part of the annual maintenance plan. It doesn’t cost me anything.

The issues he found (which require repair) are probably going to run me $2,500. My zone heating has been putting out heat — but only to the first floor. And he spotted that the reason is that the control panel is fried.

Honestly, it’s bugged the crap out of me all winter long. Only one zone in my house would get heat. But since heat rises — it really wasn’t a problem – though I knew it would have to be fixed “someday”… Continue reading “My Heating Company Is Smarter Than Me”

Sage’s Many Dilemmas: Why Channel vs Direct Is The Tiniest

This morning there was an interesting email in my inbox concerning Sage’s increasing willingness to tackle customer issues directly either through their professional services group or via a new Gold level of support that promises to offer upgrade assistance direct to customers via a pre-schedule appointment (See New Sage ERP MAS90 and MAS200 Maintenance Plans ).

Both of these services sound an awful lot like the consulting services provided by Sage’s channel partners.

Sage is offering these services not because they want to take money out of the pockets of their business partners. Rather they offer these setup or upgrade services because increasingly customers are demanding less complex products that they can self install and/or upgrade.

When Sage offers to provide these services directly the issue of channel conflict arises. Consultants cry poverty because Sage is marketing directly to the customer and according to the consultant when Sage also provides services (aka consulting or support) direct to the end user then the consultant’s revenue stream is in jeopardy.

It’s a dilemma for Sage. They have two choices – do nothing and have competitors react by pointing out that Sage’s products are complex and requires lots of consulting time to install or upgrade. Or Sage could change their technology so customers who want to self-install — whether it’s an upgrade or a new implementation — can do so.

Therein lies Sage’s true dilemma.

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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.

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Don’t Let Support Freeloaders Turn You Into a Crazy Cat Lady

On Tuesday I attended Ed Kless’s one day consulting class in New York City at the Affinia Hotel. This excellent session gave those in attendance a lot to think about in the area of fixed cost engagements and how to better control and manage consulting engagements.

Ed has a full week session that’s happening from June 7 to 10, 2010 in Dallas where he’ll share even more ideas and information. There is also a Sales Academy led by Rob Johnson happening at the same time. Log into the Sageu site and browse to the academies section for more.

One of the topics that is near and dear to my heart is Service Level Agreements. In short – phone support agreements. In the last 10 years we haven’t accepted a single client  that was not agreeable to an agreement 😉

And I’ve quickly compiled some tips on how I’ve adapted my plan to be sure that the agreement is fair to both parties.

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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?

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