DAB Partners Client News: Summit Hosting CEO Stan Kania Featured on the Sage Advice Podcast

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CEO of Summit Hosting, Stan Kania, has been part of the Sage world for over 21 years. So when his old friend Ed Kless, Senior Director of Partner Development and Strategy at Sage, invited him to be on the Sage Advice Podcast, he was happy to sit down with Ed and talk about Summit’s story and company culture.

If you’re not familiar with the Sage Advice Podcast, the tagline host Ed Kless uses is, “energizing business builders around the world through the imagination of our people and the power of technology”. Ed’s guests are thought leaders in business and technology, within the Sage community and beyond. There are a wide variety of guests and topics, and at around 5-8 minutes long, they’re well worth a quick listen!

In this six-minute chat, Stan talks with Ed about why Summit Hosting has chosen to focus on ERP application hosting, and why he’s so excited about the technology Summit Hosting offers to their hosting customers. Having identified a need out there for small to mid-sized businesses to be free from servers and $200/hour IT people, Summit Hosting has grown to 20,000+ users between the US and Canada in the past ten years. Stan explains how they’re saving them money, and at the same time offering them faster, more reliable technology than they would be able to attain on their own, and that’s why Stan does what he does.

He also discusses a business model that they have in place at Summit Hosting that they refer to as a “results-oriented” environment. Stan first learned of this concept while attending a Strategic Leadership Association (SLA) conference. SLA is a think-tank for professionals who believe there is a better way of doing business and adding value to their customers, and Ed is on the Board of Directors of SLA.

The gist of the results-oriented approach is getting out of that “9 to 5” mentality and focusing on end results. Summit Hosting leadership measures their success not in hours worked, but in three key factors: customer satisfaction, profitability, and employee satisfaction.

The interview is around six minutes long, so give it a listen to hear more about Summit Hosting’s history, their technology, and why you should consider applying the results-oriented concept in your own organization!

Sage Partner – Stan Kania of Summit Hosting on becoming a results only work environment

Trending: AP Automation

With the recent introduction of Sage AP Automation powered by Beanworks, suddenly “AP Automation” is buzzy among the Sage ERP channel and their customers.

An article on the popular site www.top-sage-resellers.com reported that Sage had conducted a survey of customers that found AP Automation to be the most requested new functionality.

I’ve talked with a lot of partners about this topic, and many have told me that their customers are expressing interest in learning more about what AP automation can do for them.

While not directly revenue-generating or required for compliance like other add-ons, automating processes on the payables side can be an effective strategy for cost savings and increased efficiency.

But what do Sage users really want when they say they want AP automation? Is it invoice routing and approvals? Electronic payments? Document imaging? All of the above?

Or perhaps it’s more?

My friends at Paramount WorkPlace have a great procurement software that is complementary to AP automation and integrates not only with Sage, but with pretty much all the mid-market ERPs. While AP automation typically revolves around the invoice record, procurement (or “spend management”) software helps control the spend before it happens – or before the invoice even exists.

ERP resellers, particularly Sage ERP, should be prepared to discuss how procurement fits into the puzzle.

This blog article “Spend Management Meets AP Automation” helps demystify where spend management meets AP automation. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss further!

 

Beyond the Booth: 10 Conference Tips for ISVs

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I really do love conferences. When I’m at a conference, I’m totally in my element. I always look forward to certain events I attend every year like 90 Minds Meeting of the Minds, ITA, Sage Summit, and GPUG Summit to name a few.

But at one point in my career, I started to question the return on the investment, both of my time and of my employer’s money. I had a small child at the time, so traveling was that much more of a burden on my family, and I realized that if I was going to be away, and my company was going to be allocating funds for it that could be used elsewhere, then I needed to make every waking moment count.

There are all sorts of tips to share on branding, booth layout, lead collection, etc., but these tips focus more on the networking aspects:

  1. Start by reminding yourself of the potential. All the tips below are going to require extra effort, so push through and keep reminding yourself of the value of face time. Think about how many calls/demos/site visits you’d have to make throughout the year to build the same rapport you can get from sitting down with people over coffee (or realistically, their beverage of choice) at a conference. Remind yourself constantly of this during the conference.
  2. Get involved. Get on a committee if they have them. Request to present on an educational topic. Volunteer to stand in the common areas and help people find sessions, lunch, etc.. All of these provide for opportunities to meet people you may not otherwise encounter.
  3. Keep coming back. Think of the conferences you’ve attended regularly. Compare your experience the first time with your experiences in later years. It takes time to build a presence and make connections. It can snowball nicely for you.

    “I think consistency is a key attribute.  I realize that requires an investment, but the ones who show up at GPUG Summit consistently seem to grow their footprint each time, not to mention their level of comfort when executing a plan at an event. Some ISVs even send the same folks…they know what to expect.” – Bob McAdam, GPUG General Manager www.gpugsummit.com

  4. Schedule meetings ahead of time. At some conferences, the time flies by so fast that you don’t get working time with all the people you’re there to see. Try not to take, “I’ll stop by your booth” for an answer! Anyone who’s been around knows how that usually ends up.
  5. If there’s a trade show, be at your booth even if it’s not your scheduled “booth duty” time. Stepping away from a chaotic booth to hold a peaceful conversation is certainly a good thing, but when you’re done, head on back. You never know who might stop by while you’re away, leading to a missed opportunity to make a face-to-face connection.
  6. Get social. Jon Rivers of Marketing Monarchs has some great tips that even social media novices can follow:

    The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Using Social Media at conferences.

  7. Be a social butterfly. Don’t congregate with your own team or other ISVs too much. As much as you may enjoy their company, you should focus on spending your time with the people you don’t have access to regularly. (Or if you really want to be hit over the head with it, “people who can help you earn more money”).
  8. Be present and visible. Sometimes there are no Expo hall hours and no sessions that are even remotely interesting or relevant to you going on. While it’s tempting to go back to your room and catch up on email, don’t do it. Take your laptop if you must, but sit in a common area. Be where the customers and partners are.
  9. Recap your experience. Here are some tips for writing conference recaps.
  10. Remember: It’s a sprint, not a marathon! Double up on your vitamins and caffeinate yourself because this is your time make connections and build relationships with people that will be way more meaningful than anything you can do on a conference call.

Need a little help? DAB Partners can represent our clients at conferences, or just help your team put a plan in place to follow these tips. Contact us to learn more.

ScanForce Announces Alliance with DAB Partners

ScanForce logo

Miami, FL: ScanForce, the industry-leading  provider of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Mobile Sales for Sage 100/Sage 100c, has engaged the services of DAB Partners to strengthen and enhance their relationships with the Sage 100 ERP partner community.

 

With the inclusion of DSD/ScanForce Multi-Bin Basic in Sage 100c at no charge, along with the growing demand for their Mobile Sales product, ScanForce has seen a large increase in inquiries from partners in the past year. In order to provide the highest level of service to their resellers, they’ve partnered with DAB Partners to offer dedicated resources to make it easy for Sage 100 resellers to offer ScanForce’s solutions to their customers and prospects.

 

The additional resources are not only in response to recent growth in demand, but in anticipation of further growth resulting from the acquisition of an Ohio-based technology firm. The addition of this team and their unique mobile data capture technology has put ScanForce in a position to create enhancements to their solutions that were previously only available in high-end, custom systems.

 

With new solutions on the market in the past year and many more on the horizon, one of ScanForce’s key initiatives is enabling their partners to leverage warehouse management tools to acquire new Sage 100 ERP customers and retain existing ones.

 

“We recognize that our partners have helped us get to where we are today. Most companies like ours have the sales teams managing partner relationships while also trying to close deals. With the DAB Partners model, ScanForce’s partners will receive the dedicated attention and support they need to help make the partnership a success, while our sales team can continue to focus on winning mutual business”, said Mario Rodriguez, President of ScanForce.

 

Darcy Boerio of DAB Partners said, “At DAB Partners, our reputation with the channel is our biggest asset, so we only partner with companies who treat their channels with integrity. I’ve worked closely with Mario and his team for many years, and they exemplify the partner-friendly values we subscribe to –  plus they have amazing technology!”

 

About ScanForce:

ScanForce was founded in 2006 to assist small to medium-sized businesses implement scalable, easy to use, and powerful bar coding solutions for inventory management and process automation. Today ScanForce provides a full suite of Warehouse Management Solutions as well as Mobile Sales solutions for field reps. They are designed to be used at the point of activity, and are able to run on the latest handheld and tablet devices running Windows, Apple iOS, and Android. For more information, visit http://www.ScanForce.com.

About DAB Partners:

DAB Partners helps mid-market ERP ISVs and ERP resellers grow their channels and referral networks. To learn more, visit www.dabpartners.com. And be sure to subscribe to the DAB Partners blog to have fresh ideas to grow and strengthen your partnerships delivered right to your inbox!

 

ISVs: Do you want to know what your partners really think about you?

webinars are not the only way!

Can you remember a time in your life when you’ve received what you perceived to be bad service (and perception is reality), and rather than discuss it with your service provider, you terminated the relationship? Maybe it was a hairdresser who gave you a bad cut. Or a restaurant you frequented who gave you bad service.

If you’ve been an ISV in the mid-market ERP space for any length of time, you’ve experienced partners who have suddenly stopped referring leads to you. You might have the best service, margins, and technology, but sometimes you’re going to inadvertently upset your partners for one reason or another. The key is knowing about it so you can resolve it.

Are you analyzing the trends so you can identify partners who may be at risk?

Sales reps tend to work off anecdotal evidence when it comes to determining who their top partners are. They remember closing a lot of deals with them for a few years, and may not notice when it’s been six months with no new activity.

Some partners will tell you exactly what you did to alienate them, while others will avoid confrontation and just tell you they’ve been “busy” or “focused on other things”.

Years ago, I worked with a partner who would take my calls and tell me all the things I wanted to hear. Then one day, after realizing that something was amiss because the leads still weren’t coming in anymore even though the relationship seemed to be fine on the surface, I went on site with him. I did a presentation for his team, and then we all went out to dinner. That’s when he laid into me, telling me that we had mistreated several of his customers. At least that was his perception.

Well, we worked through the issues (now that I knew about them), and he agreed to commit to being honest with me moving forward. I learned a pretty powerful lesson. Ever since then, I’ve welcomed complaints from partners with open arms. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to have unhappy partners, but miscommunications happen, and I’d much rather know about it than not!

Are your partners being completely honest with you about the partnership?

In addition to services to help you grow and strengthen your channel, DAB Partners is pleased to offer independent partner program reviews. We’ll contact your partners as an independent, neutral third party and find out how you can do better – in their perception – which is reality!

Thinking Beyond the Webinar

Maybe it’s just a knee-jerk reaction, but doesn’t it seem like the go-to thing for ERP resellers and ISVs who want to promote their solutions is the tried-and-true webinar?

A GoToWebinar or WebEx event is set up, co-branded content is created and distributed via email blast & newsletter, time is spent preparing a presentation. A handful of people register. Half of them show up. You decide it’s ok, and all is not lost because you can still make use of the recording.

Sound familiar?

I don’t want to romanticize the past here, but I can recall back in the heyday when people needed to do webinars because they just didn’t have the bandwidth to have the one-off conversations. Webinars could weed out tire-kickers so follow-ups could be focused on those who were still interested after seeing the pitch. I would argue that times have changed.

Having spoken with numerous mid-market ERP ISVs and resellers about this topic, the general consensus is that there’s been a downward trend in webinar attendance over the past several years, regardless of how educational the content is purported to be. Yet people continue to dedicate time, effort, and communications to them because it’s what they know.

I have several theories on why webinar attendance is declining:

  • We live in an on-demand culture (thanks, Netflix!). Go ahead, go to YouTube and search just about any ISV you can think of…

…Are you back? See what I mean? Customers know this. They can go watch the first five minutes of any one of your recordings and decide if they want to learn more.

If you’re an ISV, and your potential customers searched for your recordings on YouTube right now, what would they find?

  • The partners aren’t promoting it properly. Sorry, I love partners, and I’m going to put this delicately so as not to offend. They’ve gotten very good at the act of sending out an email blast (check!) and maybe putting a registration link in a newsletter (check!), then sitting back and waiting. And if they’ve been doing this a couple times a month for several years, chances their emails are not reaching their audience because they’ve become like white noise.

 

  • Some people just aren’t “webinar people”. Every partner has that one customer who signs up for every single webinar, regardless of whether the product being promoted is a fit for them. Conversely, there are also people who never sign up for webinars. Maybe they don’t even read the partner’s bulk emails. If all you’re doing is webinars, you’ll never reach these people.

 

I’m not suggesting that webinars can’t be an effective tool when properly promoted and executed. Some partners have found the right balance of good content (read: educational), frequency, and active promotion to keep their customers coming back, webinar after webinar.

If just one person shows up and buys, it’s probably well worth your time.  If nothing else, maybe someone will go out and look at your recordings on YouTube and decide they want to learn more. Or maybe someone will read the email and ask their partner for more information. There are certainly ways to make a webinar campaign effective beyond just the actual event itself.

The point is that before you default to webinars as your main form of co-marketing (“Webinar? Check!”), both sides should discuss past webinar results and expectations for the campaign efforts and decide if it’s the best use of your mutual time.

There are many other creative ways for ISVs to help their partners raise awareness about their solutions. Contact DAB Partners to learn more about how we can help you think beyond the webinar.

ISVs: Are you getting invited to the dance?

Are you getting invited to the dance-

While many ERP resellers are foregoing “brick and mortar” user events because they find it hard to bring in the bodies, there are still many that continue to host annual conferences for their customers and prospects year after year. If a partner hosts an annual user conference, from what I’ve seen they do it because they’ve found some secret sauce to keep customers coming back. If their customers want to be there, then shouldn’t you?

Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting invited to the dance:

  1. Know the dance card. Make it a part of your process to ask partners if they host any live events. Even if they’re only tentative, add them to an events calendar so you can keep them on your radar.
  2. If you don’t have a date, go with a friend. If you suspect you may not know about all the possible events, contact someone from another ISV or publisher and see if they’re willing to compare notes with you about which events they’re attending. Then see if you can get an invitation.
    Pro Tip: If you’re not actively networking with other ISVs, you’re missing out on a world of indirect referral sources!
  3. Be selective before accepting an invite. Ask for details about how much exposure you’ll receive, before, during, and after.
    Pro Tip: There are lots of ways to ask for greater exposure – you just need to know what to ask for!
  4. Be the belle of the ball. Make sure you’re maximizing your efforts by being prepared, knowing your audience, and planning other activities outside the event itself while you’re in the area.
  5. Make lasting memories. Don’t just assume they’ll call you if they’re interested. Make a plan to keep in touch, and follow up with the host to identify and follow up with potential business generated from the event.

One Simple Way to Keep Referrals Coming: Follow Through

  1. Share your memories. Write a recap of the event and share it with your network.

Tips for Writing Conference Recaps

  1. Dance to your own beat. If a partner says they don’t have any live events planned, don’t be afraid to suggest putting one on jointly!

If your invitations seem to be getting “lost in the mail”, contact DAB Partners to learn how we can help you stay on the A list!