Last year at Sage Summit, newly appointed CEO Stephen Kelly stressed that Sage was returning to a channel-friendly position under his direction. This year, on the first day of the summit, devoted to Sage’s partners, the company repeatedly stressed the same position – and emphasized that progress has been made since last year.
CHICAGO – Sage Software kicked off its Sage Summit event here today with its Partner Summit, and the company went to great lengths to stress a dominant theme to its partner base – that Sage is truly serious about its partners.
That was also a major theme of the event last year, and for good reason. Last year was Stephen Kelly’s first Sage Summit as CEO, and he took pains to emphasize that Sage was reversing the channel policies of his predecessor. Sage has always done a majority of its sales direct. However, under the former CEO’s tenure, Sage took a major turn away from channel-friendly positions in favor of direct. It’s position with the channel suffered accordingly. Last year, the messaging was that with a new sheriff in town, the channel was once again a top priority. This year, the messaging emphasized that same message – repeatedly.
“This year, Sage Summit has one core message, said Alan Laing, EVP Sage Partners and Alliances. “Sage is truly serious about partners and how we grow and build together. You want to learn about our joint markets, new products and new technologies. We want to prove this all to you. It’s all about our joint growth.”
Laing said the messages from partners have been consistent.
“You want to see a product road map you can rely on,” he said. “We can be difficult to do business with. There are constant challenges around complexity. You want more lead generation. You want more brand awareness – especially in North America.”
Laing emphasized that Sage has been tackling all these issues, particularly the problems of complexity and doing business with Sage.
“Our CEO wants to build with you the best partner program in the industry,” he said. “We introduced a partner program in October last year, as we moved from 54 separate programs around the world to one global program, with one infrastructure, one set of assets and one set of benefits. We also have a world class portal, ecosystem and marketplace.”
CEO Kelly then took the podium to address the approximately 2000 partners in attendance, and emphasized that the company has made concrete achievements following up the pro-channel changes that he pledged to implement last year.
“Working with partners has always been in my DNA,” Kelly said, referring both to companies like Oracle where he had been tasked with deepening a channel component, as well as to the three companies where he has been a CEO.
“In all of these, a vibrant partner system has been core,” he said.
Kelly said that Sage will be demonstrating its channel commitment by sharing more of its direction, strategy and product road maps with the channel than it ever has in the past.
“We want you to understand how Sage is on a journey to be one of the greatest technology companies on the planet,” he said. “We are the only player in our business who can support a company through its entire lifecycle, from startup to enterprise.”
Kelly said that on a general level, Sage has five strategic pillars of its channel strategy
“First is winning in the market by building market leading cloud accounting solutions, and by having the best marketing and building the best brands,” he said.
“Second is the idea of customers for life, and we stand behind our commitment last year of no forced migrations.”
Third is revolutionizing the business.
“We aren’t interested in catching up,” Kelly said. “It’s all about leapfrogging. Our long term partners have said they have seen more innovation from Sage in the last year than ever before, but this is just the start.”
Fourth is capacity for growth, strengthened by the new partner program.
“Our partner platform is a capacity for growth platform,” Kelly said. “That’s why we are committed to best-in-class partner enablement, and superior margins, so you can win more new customers.”
Finally, Kelly stated the company’s commitment to One Sage – where a channel is a key part of the One Sage team.
“I am also announcing the setting up of the Sage CEO Circle, where I will host our 50 top partners and their significant others for four days in Costa Rica in February.”