What Channel Partners Want

Opinion: Sage Software's channel program provides a model other vendors should follow.

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Since vendors spend a fair amount of time trying to copy each other, why not copy some worthy channel programs?

Typically what vendors end up doing when taking cues from competitors on how to reach their channel partners is recreate a lot of bad habits. As a result, programs and communications meant to improve the relationship between vendor and partner often meet with indifference.

Thats because partners are too busy trying to turn a profit, and figuring out the supposed benefits of a vendors new program, promotion or product naturally has to take a back seat unless the benefit is immediately apparent.

One vendor that seems to have a keen understanding of its partners needs is Sage Software, which has put itself on the map with accounting and business management applications. The Lawrenceville, Ga.-based company, though not quite a household name such as Microsoft, Google or Apple, has a strong partner following in the United States and beyond. Sage is a subsidiary of Sage Group plc., a British amalgamation of software companies acquired over the years.

In the United States, Sages partner programs are run by a former VAR, Taylor Macdonald, whose background in the trenches has proven invaluable in shaping the companys relationship with its 6,000 partners in North America. Macdonald was recognized by The Channel Insider as one of the 12 chiefs who made a difference in 2006.

A stream of innovation has come out of the companys channel team in recent years, most recently a couple of initiatives that make so much sense one has to wonder why others havent tripped over themselves to copy them.

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