Sage Channel Chief Foresees Channel Consolidation

Joe Langner, EVP of midmarket solutions at Sage North America

Joe Langner, EVP of midmarket at Sage North America

While Sage Group plc expects to see more individuals in the channel representing its products in the near future, it doesn’t necessarily expect to see more organization in its channel, the company’s North American channel chief says.

Speaking at the company’s Sage Summit in Washington, DC Monday, Joe Langner, executive vice president and general manager for the midmarket business at Sage North America said the company expects to see more channel consolidation.

“There will be more individuals in the channel, but probably fewer organizations,” Langner, the company’s de fact North American channel chief, told press and analysts in attendance.

While channel consolidation is evident on many fronts, it’s something of a reversal for Sage Group – which has long had a huge channel program due to its tendency to work with small specialist solution providers and accountants and other independent financial professionals. Langner’s suggestion: the smallest of the company’s small partners are starting to band together to survive in the market.

Such a move would no doubt serve Sage well, particularly as Langner took the cross-sale message to channel partners, urging them to “take advantage of new solutions to expand their business,” particularly as the company moves to a simplified product lineup of ERP offerings for startup, small, and midsize businesses, all backed up with a variety of common connected services such as payment and mobile apps that work across its offerings.

A new tool from the company may play a role in building the connections that will ultimately lead to these consolidations. At the show, the company’s is introducing Sage City Online, a new forum-style site with areas for business partners, accountants, and customers to collaborate, exchange best practices and tips. While the idea is to get solution providers collaborating amongst themselves and with the company’s accountant partners on an informal but more regular basis, the tool providers a place for solution providers to get to know each other on an online basis, and one only needs to look at the history of mergers and acquisitions within solution provider communities like Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network to know what’s possible.

Such a consolidation in the channel would match the vendor’s own moves, as it has consolidated its own product lines over the last year, bringing the Sage brand to the forefront, and getting rid of product lines it deemed non-core to its business, such as Act and Saleslogix, two CRM properties it sold off last year.

Over the last year, the company has increased its net promoter score in North America from 11 percent to 24 percent, said Pascal Houillon, the company’s North American CEO.

“We just couldn’t continue to work with so many different brands – after rebranding all our products, we see an energy around the Sage brand like never before,” Houillon said.

The executive said the increases were largely because customers better understand the Sage brand now, and because of its efforts to consolidate R&D, marketing, support and other horizontal functions across its products last summer, breaking down some of the internal siloes that were familiar features of the Sage landscape for many years.

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