Accpac’s VAR Program: A Work in Progress

Read this article at Accounting Technology 

by Carly Lombardo

New York (November 2003) – With the ongoing addition of products in areas as diverse as CRM, HR, and warehouse management, Accpac International continues to simultaneously evolve its Solution Provider Program to accommodate this broadening portfolio.

“Our goal is to make [the program] a one-stop, all-inclusive program to train, certify, and support partners on all levels,” says Kerry Lemos, director of North American sales.

To achieve that, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Accpac created a menu approach whereby resellers could simply add products to their existing reseller agreements, as opposed to signing many different contracts. In addition, training was incorporated into the pact, and marketing support was beefed up with the addition of new “Hands-Free” marketing, advertising, and telemarketing programs. “These additions are critically important for the resellers, since they enable them to get up and running with a product quickly so they can be profitable right away,” explains Lemos. For example, Accpac guarantees first-year margins of 40 percent.

Accpac, a subsidiary of Computer Associates, touts an end-to-end business management solution. At its heart are two accounting packages: Advantage Series, with both disk- and Web-based elements, and the open-source-code Pro Series. Building on these are modules that address customer relationship management, warehouse management, point-of-sale, manufacturing, electronic data interchange, human resource management, and voice and fax networking.

The Solution Provider program currently has 1,100 resellers and is adding anywhere from 20 to 45 more every two weeks. According to Lemos, the main product choices among resellers are the two core accounting packages, with Accpac CRM gaining momentum. “Our program is designed to provide options. Resellers can focus on a single product line such as Accpac Pro Series accounting or Accpac CRM, or they can sign up for any number of other applications, up to and including a complete end-to-end solution portfolio,” says Lemos.

Program pricing ranges from $495 to $5,995 per product set. A reseller can focus exclusively on Accpac Messenger for $495. However, authorization for Accpac CRM is $3,995, and for Advantage Series or Pro Series, the price is $5,995. Annual renewals range from $250 to $750 per product set.

A Solution Provider must hire a minimum of one Certified Consultant to serve as the technical service and support person, and one Certified Sales Consultant. Both are required to receive the appropriate training from Accpac and pass an exam. A Certified Consultant can be certified for more than one Accpac product set.

New York City-based Net at Work completes 50 Accpac deals per year, and receives a 50 percent margin for all new engagements and 35 percent for upgrades. President Alex Solomon notes that that means the company can offer its customers not just accounting packages, but also warehouse management and CRM.

Solomon explains, “We’re working with a client on an older version of the accounting package, and we’ve modified the new source code and tied it into online business orders that are now able to flow into the accounting system. We’ve also added CRM and warehouse management. Over the years, we keep adding pieces so that a customer can spend an entire lifecycle with Accpac. The end-to-end solution allows the client to grow without having to turn to different vendors.”

Providing Options

Within the Solution Provider Program, there are five margin levels, ranging from Bronze to Premier, with designations based on annual net purchases.

“Taking on a new product is a significant investment, so we ensure that the return on investment is fast and easy. For example, we guarantee first-year margins of 40 percent. We kept our annual sales target levels for resellers at the original levels so resellers who brought on more product sets could very quickly reach top margin levels,” says Lemos.

Premier partners must have an annual purchase level of $150,000, for which they receive a 50 percent margin. Bronze partners, who face an annual purchase requirement of $10,000, get a 30 percent margin.

Resellers receive a full range of demonstration products for each product authorization for sales presentations, support functions, and for internal use. Accpac also assigns resellers an account manager to help develop sales opportunities through training sessions, seminars, trade shows, joint sales calls, and direct mail. Additional sales and implementation support is provided through the Strategic Sales Group, the Pre-Sales Group, Pre-Sales Technical Consulting, and the Professional Services Group.

The Strategic Sales Group assists in large-scale prospect opportunities. “In the past year, we’ve done 17 implementations. Five have come directly from Accpac, with three more captured as a joint effort,” notes Colin Chambers, president and CRM specialist of San Diego-based CRM Systems.

Not surprisingly, Chambers swears by the Strategic Sales Group, which helped him close on a $200,000-plus deal that had been in the works for over a year. “We were working with a midsize software company that produces software for the security market. The deal was to integrate CRM with the accounting package.” CRM Systems created order entry to serialize the software products, and a quoting mechanism for the sales team, and established technical support that can look up serial numbers to see if users are eligible for support.

The implementation of the 90-seat CRM system is under way. Chambers comments, “We worked hand in hand with Accpac to land this deal.”

Generating New Business

Accpac prefers that its resellers spend more time selling and implementing, and less time worrying about finding new sales leads. The remedy: “Hands-Free” marketing programs that address advertising, telemarketing, and trade shows.

Net at Work has successfully completed several Accpac marketing campaigns. “Accpac continues to develop great marketing collateral. The Accpac pieces work well because they’re not product-focused and don’t come across as a sales pitch,” says Marc Mandelbaum, director of marketing. “It’s a great fit for us, as our approach to new business lead generation is non-product-focused, but as an expert in the field selling our services rather than products.”

Mandelbaum notes that Accpac has a direct mail campaign that offers a free copy of the 39 New Ideas of CFOs booklet as a give-away. Net at Work internally created and designed an email version of the campaign.

The reseller then rented 5,000 email addresses, targeting business owners, CFOs, finance VPs, controllers, and accounting directors and managers in the New York area. “We had 300-plus prospects that requested the guide within two days of the email,” recalls Mandelbaum. “We’ve signed four on as new clients, and are actively working to close business with twelve others.” He notes that even for those that only opened the email but did not respond (the open rate was 38 percent), “we successfully branded Net at Work as an objective systems consultant, educator, and provider of IT and business needs.”

Accpac also provides a more traditional Cooperative Marketing Program, which provides Solution Providers with product credit when they promote Accpac in their own campaigns. At the end of each month, a co-op credit is calculated based on 5 percent of that month’s purchases. The credit is then available for a six-month period. Net at Work, it’s worth noting, was reimbursed 75 percent of their cost for the email prospecting campaign.