As a long time GP VAR I understand where this comment comes from. I myself for some time worked on the motto “if you can find a way not to sell an ISV product, then don’t”. This thought process is driven by the principle of keeping things simple. Simple things work. Successful projects are simple. Lets keep things really simple and all will be good, business will grow!
I would like to be bold and challenge this mentality. If all we do as VAR’s is the status quo and implement out of the box, simple GP systems then we opening the door for the competition. Why would we as VAR’s let Sage, Accpac, SAP, NetSuite get a sniff of our market? We have a great market, loads of prospects and a great client base. If all we have to offer is an accounting system that has been around for awhile – we have nothing to offer the market. We will be overtaken eventually.
It is easy to sit back and throw blame by saying “Microsoft are not doing enough” to help us. That’s rubbish. I firmly believe that GP VAR’s hold the key to determining the future of Dynamics GP over the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 yrs. We all know GP is a great product, and Microsoft are doing all the right things to ensure the base tool keeps growing by developing and supporting the demands of customers. (Portals, Sharepoint, Office integrations, eConnect, Sarbanes Compliance and the list goes on). Microsoft could certainly do more at times, but they generally do a great job and we are here to support and benefit from their efforts.
So the challenge for VAR’s is to get creative and differentiate. Differentiation can take the form of Service Delivery or Product Offering. I have generally found that partners offer a good, although widely varying, level of professional service. Successful projects result from good people, good process and careful management.
So then, how can a VAR benefit from the great GP ISV community, and deliver great, profitable projects?More often than not the success of a relationship with an ISV has less to do with the ISV, and more to do with the VAR.
1. Choose your ISV’s carefully. There are some dodgy vendors out there, they know who they are and so do most of the VAR’s.
2. Take the ISV seriously. You will find ISV’s really willing to help you and bend over backwards to assist, but do not waste their time if you want their help next time. Avoid being opportunistic with your prospects and connecting them with an ISV. A one off sale of an ISV product will be a failure as delivery and ongoing support is too hard.
3. Train your staff, or use the ISV’s services team. If you think you consultant will just pick up Wennsoft modules, Scribe, Business portal etc in their spare time – you are wrong. The world has moved on from throwing a .cnk into a folder and working things out on the fly. Clients are paying by the hour – give them an expert.
4. Embed the solution into your pre-sales. This is obviously critical as it ensures not only that you can position the solutions correctly, but also have confidence that you can deliver – as your services team deliver this solution all the time. With eOne tools, that are horizontal rather than vertical, you can show these tools in every demo you ever do. Make it a natural part of your demonstration.
5. Learn how to make money. Leverage the tool you are selling, and position it correctly to gain software revenue, services revenue, annual maintenance revenue.
6. Value your support. ISV’s that are taking small margins $1-3K per sale can not offer unlimited help desk. Like you they need to be profitable too. Certainly ask questions and seek support but do not abuse the service.
7. Build a relationship. Ever wanted a favour? It is much better to ask a favour of someone you speak to often, rather than someone you speak to every 2 years, when you need something. Note the onus is on the VAR as much as the ISV.
8. Sell a bunch. Sounds funny – but if you are selling a bunch of product then you will find your ISV will bend over to help you out.
So the question remains, are ISV’s a pain in the rear? Usually not, they are a dedicated bunch of people doing their best to support their customers – you. Can ISV’s do a better job? Absolutely and you should demand this from them.
Can VAR’s make more money, deliver better projects, sell more GP and give Microsoft reason to improve GP into the future by selling ISV solutions? YES THEY CAN.
I recently overheard a GP VAR say “if you want us to sell your product, you need to build a relationship with us”. It takes 2 to have a relationship. Unless a VAR is prepared to follow some or all of the 8 steps above – they will eternally believe “ISV’s are a pain in the rear” and their business will be poorer for it.