Apologies for going missing in action over the past few weeks. I was fortunate to have a holiday during which I got to completely ‘switch off’, and then spent a week travelling for work – during which time I did not really ‘switch on’ beyond the sessions I was presenting.

I spent last week with our UK partners in London and had a great time – thanks to all for their hospitality. On the 22hr flight home, with a little time to reflect in between the beef or chicken preheated meals – there was a single thought that kept coming to me. “The future of GP is entirely in the hands of GP Partners”. Let me explore this thought below.

You all know that I firmly believe that Microsoft Dynamics GP is the most powerful, most flexible, most configurable and best value for money mid market ERP available. If you want to challenge this statement then please let me know which product you think is better.

What I have found this year on my visits to both the USA and UK is that GP resellers are getting lazy (and I include myself in this category also). Yes – there I have said it. Before you take offense please hear me out.

A couple of questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you demo Dynamics GP in much the same way you did 2, 3, or 5 years ago?
2. Do you really understand the Business Portal Dashboards and Home Page Metrics?
3. Are you as familiar with SRS reports as you were with Report Writer and Crystal?
4. Do you show your customers Excel Reports, and Excel Report builder? For how many customers have you implemented Navigation Lists?
5. Did you ever get beyond that fact that eXtender simply adds a few extra fields?
6. Can you clearly explain what a web service is, and where and when they are used in GP. Can you give three great customer examples of why web services change the ERP world?
7. Do you go to market with a web store for GP?
8. Do you know all about the new features that are available in V10 and V2010 GP?
9. Can you demo power pivot?
10. Do you still take advice from the back room dex guy who is still living in the 90’s.

GP has been top of the pile for a long time, and over 15 years we saw the growth of best reseller channel in mid market ERP which is the envy of all our competitors. My question is are we making sure we stay ahead of the pack.

Our competitors have had plenty of time to aim up, work hard and come to compete hard with us. Take a product such as NetSuite which has come a huge way in the last few years. They get the chance to take GP, pull it apart and copy all the best bits into their product – and they are doing it. If we sit still they will catch up, copy our product features and pass us by, leaving us wondering what happened.

Alternately, we can keep moving forward, improving our offering and making sure that they never get to catch up. From where I sit, Microsoft are continuing to improve and enhance GP with every new release. Now I am sure we all have wish lists for features and changes, and we will never get all the things we want but I believe we have more than enough to work with.

There are a few things that I believe we as partners can do to ensure we stay well ahead of any competitor.

1. Voice your high demands on Microsoft: Keep talking and telling Microsoft what your customers needs. Get passionate and demanding when it comes to ensuring what GP looks like next year and the year after. If you do not ask, if you do not hit up executives, if you do not swamp the help desk then you will not get the things you need. I sense there is a feeling that we are now dealing with Microsoft and individual partners do not have the swing and power they once had – which is simply not true. There are great people in Fargo who will listen and learn from everything you have to share.
2. Sell up a bomb: there is no better activity than selling lots of GP. Take advantage of the 3 for a $1 and 3 for a £1 and all other promotions. If you want Microsoft to listen to you than knock on their door with really big sales number and a full pipeline.
3. Get creative with your solutions and embrace the Microsoft story. Do not show GP the same way you did 5 years ago. Learn all the new features that have been added into GP in the last 3-4 years. Leverage the Microsoft Office story with Office, ERB, Communicator, SRS and all the other good links to all things Microsoft. Get deeply familiar with CRM and stop talking about it like it is all a little scary. Tell customers that CRM is the integrated CRM solution for GP – and show it as one product. Use the term Dynamics and get on board with the ‘Dynamics’ marketing. Use Extender, build what your customer needs – but call it GP. Never mention the word eXtender – but say this is what GP does for you.
4. Pitch GP as the best integration product on the market (as with SmartConnect/eConnect it is). Embrace your prospects existing point software solutions and show how easy it is to make all their systems one single ‘system’ through the power of integration and reporting.
5. Love your existing customers. Love them by taking them the best solutions, and advising them on the best way to do business. Do not let a few slip away to the competitors just because they never called in, or never spent money. If you let a few customers go, then expect a case study to appear from NetSuite on the problems you get with GP. Bring your customers to convergence and support all the Microsoft customer event initiatives. There is nothing better to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for a customer than having them feel part of the 50-60,000 customers that use GP everyday to run their business.

We are the users and implementers of the best mid market ERP product in the market. FACT. But unless we want this to remain the case 2 years form now, we had better get excited, get active, get passionate and sell up a storm.