Sage Software: Tuesday Partner Conference with Ron Verni

On Tuesday, 8 May 2006, Ron Verni, CEO of Sage Software laid out the “state” of Sage software. He gave his vision for the company in 7 commitments that Sage has. This was a perfect segway into Franklin Covey’s follow up talk.
Ron explained that Sage’s first commitment was their commitment to small-medium sized businesses, reinforcing Sage’s focus on this market. With 30,000 support calls per day, Sage is able to listen to the heart beat of its customers and serve their needs.
Are all small businesses the same? No? Sage’s philosophy is that smaller businesses don’t even think that, “I’m a florist”, for example. In many cases they specify even the TYPE of florist they are. Sage looks at its customers as a universe of ONE not that all small businesses are the same.
With almost 5 million customers world wide and 2.5 million customers in the US – Sage and its partners have a lot to be happy with. 4 years ago there was 1/2 the number of customers.
The second commitment is “speed of the customer”. Sure, every company wants its customer to BUY, BUY, BUY. However, Ron expressed that Sage only wants to move customers from one product to another when THEY (the customer) are ready.
Peachtree Quantum is Sage’s answer to keep Peachtree customers from migrating to the competition. There was a chasm from Peachtree (for smaller businesses) to MAS 90 or ACCPAC (mid-size to larger businesses) and Peachtree Quantum fills that void.
In another example, Ron explained that Sage’s Timberline unit (for the constructions & real estate industry) had stiff competition from Intuit’s Master Builder software…so Sage bought Master Builder. They also bought another software – Contractor Anywhere. These acquisitions not only filled gaps in Sage’s product lines but also added new customers for more upgrade paths.
Commitment to services is another Sage commitment as evidenced by Sage CRM. There’s a VERY FAST evolution in Sage’s customer based on hosted applications and eventually will be a 50/50 mix of hosted vs software use.
Complete solutions is Sage’s vision to offer a common interface between Sage products and possibly more important a common back end database so data can be easily transferred between the various product suites. This evolution can’t happen over night, especially with software acquisitions. However, Ron explained that he thinks Sage can move faster.
As Sage has grown it is quite easy for it to have a large and confusing set of contact points for customers. Although Ron did not touch on this point in particular, he explained that Sage is doing its to best to ensure its branding – the Sage brand (and not the former Best Software brand) – is well marketed to customers via advertising in over 100+ magazines (amongst other things).
Customer Connected/Intimacy is the 6th commitment Sage has. Sage is only satisfied with customers that would refer Sage to someone else.
The last and seventh point is Sage’s commitment to its partners. The energy seen on Tuesday is definitely a sign that Sage is 100% committed to seeing its partners succeed. Sage has three legs to its partnership, two of them are education of partners, sales and business programs to help its partners succeed.
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