ERP vendor Epicor looks to channel for aggressive growth in Canada

Epicor has doubled the size of its Canadian business over the last couple years, and while most of its business in the U.S. is direct, the growing Canadian business is going entirely through channel partners.

John Matterson

John Matterson, Senior Director, Channel, Epicor

SMB and midmarket-focused ERP vendor Epicor does the vast majority of its business in the U.S. direct. But Canada has a completely different go-to-market motion, with all of its growing sales in recent years going through channel partners.

“We have eight partners in Canada, of whom four do the majority of the sales,” said John Matterson, who was hired as Canadian country manager in October 2014, and a year later was promoted to Senior Director, Channel, which made him responsible for channel sales in the Americas as well as all sales in Canada and Latin America. Matterson has worked primarily in various VAR capacities over the last 20 years plus.

“Epicor ERP 10 is sold 99 per cent through partners in Canada,” Matterson said. “We also have a partner in Quebec selling our Prophet 21 [supply chain management solution], and we are looking to expand that.”

Matterson said that the Canada strategy is basically the same as in the U.S. – except that it’s done through partners rather than direct.

“We don’t have a professional services team in Canada, so we rely on partners there,” he said. “We also find that Canadians like to buy American innovation from Canadians. The last couple years, we have sold 100 per cent channel in Canada. I don’t want to say we are completely committed to that. There’s always the possibility we would get direct into a very large account if that was required, but we have been 100 per cent channel.”

Epicor is fairly close to having a national presence in Canada. They are strong in the Toronto area, have a good presence in Quebec, and are building out a presence in the west.

“We strongly engage with our partners,” Matterson said. “With our partners we manage the pipelines together. We manage customers together.”

Recent results have clearly been there.

“We have doubled in size over the last couple years in Canada,” Matterson stated.

Epicor’s reigning global partner of the year [which includes the U.S. as well as all other geos] is a Canadian company. Six S Partners an ERP consultancy based in Waterloo ON. While company President John Preiditsch worked with other ERP vendors while in other organizations, from the time his current company began in 2007, it has been focused exclusively on Epicor.

John Preiditsch Six S partners

John Preiditsch, President, Six S Partners

“I was an Infor partner, and found that in bakeoffs, we were losing to Epicor, so I concluded that this product needs representation,” Preiditsch said. “We became their first hard core manufacturing partner for Ontario west. Since then we have grown our business from being regionally based to pretty much Canada wide, and have customers from Vancouver Island to New Brunswick.” They have customers in Quebec but don’t actively market there, while their business is strongest in Ontario, Alberta, and BC.

“Last year we added 26 net-new clients,” he said. “For us, it’s about quality. Epicor requires a high level of qualification. On our end, my two sales guys are past plant managers and engineers. They have a better understanding of the customers’ business, and aren’t just tech guys.”

Preiditsch said they have a strong working relationship with Epicor.

“We joint market with them,” he said. “They give us leads, but we also bring in our own and register those with them. For a while, we did four-legged sales calls with them, and we still bring them in on larger accounts. We are all Epicor University-certified, the same as their own staff.”

Epicor is now engaged in a big push to try and get customers to realize that the cloud is the future, but Preiditsch said that has been a relatively slow process. About 95% of their customers are on-prem, and even among new sales, only about 15-20 per cent are cloud.

“It’s not really a surprise,” he said. “We do enjoy a really nice spot in that the Epicor product doesn’t have to be specifically selected as cloud or on-prem early. We can leave it to the last second and the platform becomes irrelevant.”

About a third of Six S’s sales replace an existing ERP product.

“The rest are net new,” he said. “These are companies that typically had some kind of point solutions before, but not a full ERP system.”

Epicor is also attempting to make a major push beyond its traditional SMB and midmarket base into the enterprise, a strategy that Preiditsch said has good prospects for success in Canada.

“We have been able to go head to head with SAP and beat them on a functional footprint,” he said. “Epicor has a very robust suite, and we have been true multi-company since ERP version 9. If you are looking for true depth of manufacturing functionality, you won’t get that from SAP. In Canada, the very largest customers are taken, and they are running Oracle and SAP, but we are a good fit for customers under that, who still require multi-company complexity.”

Epicor can draw on U.S. resources for assistance in selling into these larger accounts.

“As we move up from the SMB space, we can work with the U.S. teams on some larger accounts,” Matterson said. “Reebok Canada is a customer, and we have engaged some of our U.S. resources for that.”

Preiditsch said that the biggest challenge for Epicor in the enterprise isn’t the technology, but their sales strategies, which were developed more for mid-market sized companies.

“It’s less a factor of the products, and more a matter of sales strategies that might hold them back,” he said. “If Epicor just goes to a product shootout, it will do very well in chosen markets in enterprise, like aerospace. But while getting into one part of an enterprise isn’t that hard, convincing an entire organization to roll over, that’s a different strategy than the midmarket, where a smaller number of people make the decisions and the sales strategy is different as a result.”