I get to speak with many Dynamics GP partners every week, and more often than not we end up talking about the running a GP VAR consultancy. Despite the GFC and all the negative talk almost every partner I speak with indicates ‘we are really busy’. That got me to thinking – why we are all so busy and what steps as a community we can take to ensure we not only ride out the storm but continue to grow and do well
Why are GP VAR’s doing well in a GFC (according to me):
1. We know our business: This means that we know how to make money out of selling and supporting GP. This model has developed over the last 15-20 years and in general GP partners understand their business really well.
2. We know our customers: Trust between customers and partners has built up over many years, and despite the tough economic times GP VAR’s remain the trusted advisor to their customers. This means that if a customer needs to improve efficiency and even reduce their staff levels, they turn to GP VAR’s for the solution to their system needs.
3. GP partners know how to sell into their customer base – always by adding value. GP VAR’s do this better than any other. I have worked with other software vendors as well as AX and NAV vendors – but nobody work with their existing customer better than GP VAR’s.
4. Our risk taking and major investments were a decade ago: GP VAR’s have a solid customer base, know there software and are focused on building value and relationships rather than training up untested staff in new technologies (which gets expensive).
What VAR’s are doing and should do to grow now:
1. A number of VAR’s have cleaned up their consulting and sales rosters . There is no point keeping people on the team that do not add value. I am yet to see any solid hard working consultant or sales person being laid off (no doubt there are a few exceptions to this to the benefit of those partners that will always employ good people when they come along). The people that are pushed out in hard tend to be those that are slack in the first place.
2. Get deeper into your customers business. Understand it. Feel the pain. Provide solutions to help them achieve what they need. Become critical to the success of your customer business and be proud of your efforts. The customer will never forget.
3. Broaden the offering. Now is a great time to over additional value add activities and get into CRM, SharePoint, Document Imaging, Integrations etc. This does not necessarily mean a big investment, and some great success stories exist through partnering with people your trust. Your client trusts you, you trust a top CRM implementer. Bring in the implementer, clip the ticket and provide great solutions without taking the risks of gearing up for new technology.
4. Creative marketing: Throw away the old book. Simply do a Youtube.com search for GP and see how some partners are marketing differently. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7-rm6nsux0
5. Use your consultants to sell. This is not as hard as it sounds. Customers believe consultants (well the good ones anyway) way more than they believe a sales person or account manager. It’s fact. Anything with a salesy smell is ignored in this market. A consultant that says ‘I can save you 3 days a month if we just …..’ will close the deal every time.
6. Believe that GP is better than all the competitors. Because it is. Take the true .net development environment of GP, the 15-20 years of functionality, the broad ISV community, office integration capabilities and the low cost of upgrades and ongoing ownership. I challenge any software to compete. I have been a GP presales person for many years believe in a demo GP shown correctly will match and beat anybody. If you want to learn how – send me a message.
Coming back to point 5 above – eOne is doing to help is to help make this easy. We are building a demo environment that our partners can access via TS, that is set up with simple 3 minute demo scripts for all our products. No longer carry hard drives and VPC’s around with you and wait 15 minutes for them to restore. Our partner consultants can log on while wrapping up a day in the office with the Financial Controller. In 3 minutes you can show how to enter PO’s or Journals into Excel, how to build an eXtender form or how to automate GP tasks with SmartConnect. If you make it a rule that consultants must take 5 minutes before they go home to show each customer something new – you will never run out of consulting work.
This does not have to involve ISV’s or eOne products. Re-introduce your customers to Excel Reports (how many of you actually implemented this with V10?), FRX report manager, Excel Report builder, eXtender (especially with SP4 to be released shortly), collections management, analysis cubes etc.
This list is endless and customers will not forgive you if you do not tell them.