Sage Canada to expand partner base when Sage Live arrives

While Sage is doing well in Canada, new cloud initiatives should strengthen it further. A cloud option for their Sage X3 offering is now available. Sage Live, a new type of cloud accounting product is now available in the U.S., will soon be in Canada, and will require new types of value-added partners.

Nancy Harris  Sage 300

Nancy Harris, EVP and Managing Director, Sage Canada

NEW ORLEANS – Sage is strong in Canada – comparatively, stronger than in the U.S. But this week at Sage Summit, the company announced Sage Live, a real-time integrated accounting solution developed in partnership with Salesforce, which the company thinks will take the SMB market by storm. That makes it a likely strong candidate for the Canadian market. It also makes it likely that they will be looking for new types of partners to sell it when the product comes to Canada later this year.

“Sage is very solid in Canada, and is the usage share leader in the small business accounting market in Canada” – with usage share being defined as generically by company, not by a specific brand – said Nancy Harris, EVP and Managing Director, Sage Canada. Sage 50, their low end, subscription-based product which was Simply Accounting in Canada until Sage’s brands were converted to numbers in 2013, is very strong here. It and Sage One, which is also aimed at smaller businesses, but ones which typically have fewer customers and inventory than Sage 50, are essentially direct and retail products. In Canada, the channel for these products in larger urban areas is retail outlets like Best Buy, Staples and London Drugs. Retailers in smaller centres are served primarily by Ingram Micro.

“We also have a very strong Net Promoter Score,” Harris said. That metric measures customer loyalty.

While the Canadian partners for the small business products are retail, Harris said the true SMB sector served by Sage 300 (which was ACCPAC until the 2013 rebranding) and Sage X3, and is where their reseller channel comes into play. Sage X3, which has the most functionality of any of the company’s products, and which had been an on-premise product previously, got a big boost this week when the newly announced version of the product will now be available in a cloud version as well.

“The cloud option will help us a lot,” Harris said. “On a customer tour not long ago, I visited a customer that was moving from Sage 50 to Sage X3.”

While Sage’s plethora of product options, which also includes Sage 100 (the former MAS 90) positioned between Sage 50 and Sage 300, gives customers a lot of options, Harris said all those choices also creates some challenges.

“We have such a broad spectrum of choices, that customers can start with Sage and evolve into another Sage product, but getting that story out, and getting people to understand that if your business increases you don’t have to leave Sage can be challenging,” she said.

Harris said that Sage Live has the potential to drive major new business in Canada. Announced earlier this year as Sage Life, and rebranded when U.S. availability was announced this week, it is the product of a partnership with Salesforce, and is built on the Salesforce1 platform.

Sage Live lets small businesses run completely in the cloud. Its innovative aspect compared to the other offerings is that it is designed to bring both front and back office together into a single real-time view with a multi-dimensional, multi-country accounting engine. That single real-time source of information integrates the front office and back office to create one office that both accountants and line business people can use with comfort, and it better enables both groups to work as a team.

“It’s important to embrace and attract more and more new customers, and Sage Live, like Sage One, can bring in hundreds of thousands of customers in a digital way,” Harris said.

Sage Live is not yet available in Canada. Harris said that she has been told it will be some point later this year, with nothing more specific than that. But when it does arrive, unlike Sage One, it will be open to the solution provider channel, and it will also involve recruiting new value-added partners, including born-in-the-cloud types.

“As we move more to the cloud, Sage Live will afford us the chance to bring on different types of partners to penetrate this market,” Harris said. “We have good partner coverage now, but for Sage Live, we will need to augment it with different types of partners.”