Mark Hickman becomes one of the rare executives from outside Sage to take the Canadian country manager position, and he talks with ChannelBuzz about how he sees the company and what Sage partners can expect going forward.
SMB-focused business software vendor Sage has reached outside the company for their new Managing Director for Sage Canada. Mark Hickman, Hickman came to Sage from APOLLO Insurance, where he was the CRO, and while he has had multiple employers over his more than two-decade career, he is likely best known in the Canadian channel for his eight year tenure at WinMagic from 2010 to 2018.
Hickman’s appointment goes against the grain of their recent Canadian managing directors, who have been hired from within Sage itself – and who also have all remained within Sage once they leave the Canadian role, with a promotion to another part of the organization.
“When I was approached, I knew them well because Sage is a well-known brand in Canada,” Hickman told ChannelBuzz. “Our SMB focus is the perfect fit for the Canadian market, which really allows us to address the marketplace well. The Canadian economy has comparative advantages of significant immigration and a major construction boom. We think there is a real opportunity to grow quickly here. Our culture at Sage is very special. We are innovative and we bring great solutions to the market.”
Sage competes both with some vendors who are more enterprise players, but who reach down into the midmarket, as well as a growing number of cloud-based small business accountancy packages.
“We fit into both spaces, competing with both types of vendors,” Hickman said. “We have many smaller competitors and it’s our job to deliver quality solutions to our customers in that market. Then we keep them as they grow into medium businesses with products like Sage 300, Sage X3 and Intacct, the latter of which has been growing significantly in the last year.”
The fact that all of Sage’s Canadian country managers over the last decade have been promoted out of that job indicates that the Canadian organization has been a well-oiled one, not something that needs a fresh set of eyes to fix things. Still, Hickman said that there are always things that can be improved.
“There’s always something that can be fine-tuned in a well-run organization,” he stated. “Sage’s growth in Canada over this last year was one of the best of the global businesses phase, but we want to grow things like our Intacct and Sage Accounting footprints. As the Canadian director at Sage, I have say in how this is all done. A lot of the country leaders in Canada are focused only on sales, while at Sage there is more authority over the business overall.”
Sage has a fairly complicated hybrid channel model, including a large channel of accountants, and Hickman said that they are looking to grow it further.
“My experience with Sage is that the company is very channel friendly,” he indicated. “Our channel is of major importance to business in Canada, and we need to scale it further. Growing our reach through the channel is part of my mandate. It’s a significant percentage of the business now, and I would love to see that continue to grow. The VAR channel that adds services and support and own the customer are the kind of partners we are particularly looking for at Sage.”
Hickman also provided some updates on what’s happening at Sage, including their acquisition two weeks ago of Seattle-based Lockstep, a provider of cloud native technology that automates accounting workflows between companies. This includes streamlining accounting processes to save time, eliminate human error and improve cash flows, and applications to automate accounts receivable and accounts payable workflows.
“We want to enable customers to fully tie into the digital network, and this will enable them to build out solutions that will transform how they go to market,” Hickman said.
Intacct, which Sage acquired in 2017, had no French language version when Sage acquired them, and that is still the case, although possibly not for long.
“The French language version is still on the roadmap, and hopefully we will have some news on that soon,” Hickman noted.
Finally, Hickman highlighted Sage’s upcoming Sage Transform event, for their Intacct customers and partners.
“It will take place in Orlando next month between October 10 and 14, and we are now setting up things for partner teams travelling there,” he said.