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Sage: ‘We need to be more focused on our core partners’

Sage is changing its global partner programme to focus on its roughly 350 “core partners”, offering a single-point-of-contact account manager, and more face-to-face time as “a trusted adviser” to help firms migrate to and grow in the cloud.

Speaking at Sage Sessions in London today, Lance Gilmour, VP Partner Sales UK – who joined Sage three months ago from Oracle – told CRN that “committed partners” will soon see a more personal service from the Newcastle-based accounting software powerhouse.

“We’ve not been as focused as we should be,” Gilmour said.

“We have some organisations that work with Sage in a very sporadic way, and we’ve dealt with them, not exactly the same, but broadly in the same way as we have our bigger partners.

“This change is about us looking at a blank sheet of paper, and asking where does our business come from?

“And we can see that partners don’t want multiple points of contact based on product, because that’s irrelevant to them, and it’s what they’ve had with us in the past. So we’re addressing that.”

Gilmour said partners that sell Sage more occasionally, meanwhile, can expect “much more online and telephone support, and less face-to-face support”.

With this change in strategy, Gilmour has set a target of doubling Sage’s partner business as a percentage of overall revenues over the next two years.

He explained that this growth will be driven by increased cloud adoption by Sage partners and their customers.

“My message to cloud deniers is that cloud is definitely here…I’ve been selling this for 12 years before it was even called cloud,” he said.

“Look, 51 per cent of IT spend in 2020 will be on cloud, 94 per cent of software spend will be SaaS by 2020…The tipping point is on the horizon.

“Some of you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

“Our goal is that we want to help partners with customer acquisition, through cloud adoption. So we need current partners to be cloud supportive and more partners who embrace cloud.”

However, Gilmour wanted to reassure smaller partners, and those not yet willing to fully embrace cloud, that Sage won’t abandon them.

“We must never be glib enough to force partners to move to cloud. We’d love everybody to move to the cloud, but we think it’s important to continue to support our customers who are small businesses, entrepreneurs and business builders…

“The SMB space has always been part of our DNA.”

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