What Does A VAR Look Like To You?

Robert_Himanshu_Bill_Pascal @ Sage Summit 2011

What Do You Think A VAR Looks like?

Do they have integrity, passion, & honesty? Or do you have to check and re-check every invoice they send you knowing that you’re going to have a less than pleasant conversation with them about the “Holy Cow” additional costs that you hadn’t anticipated?

 Do you hear from them regularly to tell you about new updates, versions or maybe just an offer to go to lunch? Or, do they call just to remind you that your annual maintenance and support fees are due?

Is This What Your Re-Seller Looks Like?

 Do you recommend them to friends or business associates who are looking for ERP software? 

Or are they like your drunk Uncle Charley who shows up for every holiday, drinks too much, starts swearing like, well a drunken uncle. He then proceeds to pass out on your new couch which is when he chooses flatulence as his primary language. Upon awakening to the smell of something burning in the kitchen and the shrieking of the fire alarm do you realize that Drunken Uncle Charley has plans to stay the entire Holiday weekend at your place, which is when you whip out the plastic and book him a room at the furthest hotel from you with promises that he’ll pay you back.

If your “VAR” isn’t providing you with quality service like the ones that have been mentioned above then maybe what you have is a Re-Seller, not a VAR.

I was just reading  a social media post from a new Sage partner who wrote the following (paraphrased)

They wanted input from other partners because they wanted to know why Sage is better than Quick Books & another solution but they weren’t really sure as they have no experience in the usage of Sage or any other accounting program. Okay, fair enough we all have to learn sometime about the software that we represent but here’s where I was just dumbfounded. I went to their website, wait for it, and wait for it
This was what I read (paraphrased again)

At ____________ we specialize in the use of, and training in, Sage accounts, Payroll and HR programs. We offer good value and great service during training and, if you require it, maintenance.

Okay, so is there something that I’m missing?  So which classification does this partner fall into? They don’t appear to me to offer much beyond the ability to sell software so I’m going with Re-Seller. A Re-Seller doesn’t offer additional services, usually doesn’t have the resources to provide those services and generally has to charge you more because they have to pay an outside resource to provide those services.

I know what the Re-Seller looks like because I worked for one for a short period of time. Not only did they not have the in house resources to help their clients but they hadn’t bothered to have their IT person certified, why by the way is a requirement by Sage. What that means that even if we had a sale we couldn’t process it because our online Sage access had been shut off.  That’s called a red flag and a reason to find a real VAR who could provide those services.

Our clients deserve the best service that’s available. They trust that they’re getting the best service. It’s incumbent upon us to provide an extraordinary customer experience each and every time that we have a dialogue with them.  It’s time that our clients are treated as something other than a quick buck. If you’re losing more than your fair share of clients for “undetermined” reasons then it’s time to re-examine your business practices.  Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why you’re in business & if it’s just to make money then you’re probably doing in business for the wrong reasons. However if providing an extraordinary customer experience for your clients is your number one goal, congratulations. You “get it” and not surprisingly so do your clients. Welcome to the World of VARs

Transition Versus Change

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about change lately and the reasons for each individual event have one basic conclusion, but we’ll get to that later.

What’s your initial response when the company you’ve worked for a period of time experiences significant change in the overall ownership structure? My first reaction is one of fear and that fear is usually based around one re-occuring. “What Am I Going To Lose?” With that one simple question my mind can run off in all sorts of directions that aren’t healthy for me or anyone around me because that’s when the negativity & fear of the unknown start to cultivate & grow in my mind. 95% of the time when I have speculated about what change is going to bring is so off the mark that I feel like a moron.

This is also the time that I start to speculate about those changes. The best definition of speculation is “a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence.” The key phrase is incomplete evidence. Apparently it was pretty evident to others that I wasn’t dealing well with the changes that were going on around me so they gave me a book to read titled Managing Transitions by William Bridges. In it he says the following;

 “Change,” which he describes as external and public, and “transition,” which is internal, private, and psychological.  He claims that change is relatively easy but transitions are more difficult and emotionally demanding.  He states “Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation….and, it is these interior processes of learning and adaptation—not the external facts of change—that are underestimated and can be treacherous to one’s health and happiness.”

“ In our highly mobile society, where change and ambition are considered coin of the realm, people fail to recognize that any transition process—in life, in love, in work—not only requires adapting to a new situation, but it means letting go of old habits.”

Prior to reading this book I didn’t realize that there were two parts to change. I just thought that I thick headed and stubborn. Well, maybe there’s still some of that, but……

You might ask why I’m writing about this at this juncture. Since you asked I’ll tell you. Sage is going through some major changes in terms of re-branding its entire product line. There’s been a lot of discussion amongst the Sage partners about how it’s going to affect their bottom line.

What’s interesting to me is that I haven’t lost a minute of sleep because I understand the need for a change so I’ve passed through the Transition phase with flying colors and am anxious to see how this all works out.

I’m in the Change phase which allows me to move forward and I hope that all the partners who are still in the Transition phase get to enjoy the Change phase.

Did You Forget To Pack Anything For Sage Summit 2011?

We’re only 3 weeks away from attending the Inaugural Sage Summit 2011. Prior to leaving San Diego I think that it’s time to get out the checklist. If you’re like me, you’ll discover that if I don’t prepare a checklist I’ll always end up 1 pair of socks short, Too few business cards, forgot toothpaste, brought 2 bottles of shampoo, no conditioner. You name it, I’ve forgot it on one trip or another. That’s why I pack like I’m leaving for a year around the world. I can pack just as much for 3 days in Las Vegas as I can for a 1 week trip.

Airline Ticket √
Sage Summit Registration √
Room Reservation √
Luggage √
4 Suits √
2 Pair Slacks √
1 Pair Jeans √
8 Shirts, Dress, Casual √
3-4 Pair of Shoes, Including Flip Flops √
6-8 Pair of Socks √
6-8 Pair of Underwear √
3 Belts √
4 Tee Shirts √
Assorted Toiletries √
Laptop √
Camera √
Cell Phone √
Chargers For Laptop, Camera, Cell Phone √
Extra Batteries for Wireless Mouse √
Verizon Broad Band Card √
Extra Batteries for Any Emergency √
Necessary Travel Documents √

Just writing this list wore me out to the point that I had to go upstairs and take a nap. I get teased a lot because I just don’t know how to pack lightly. I operate under the “You Just Never Know” Theory. I enjoy wearing suits so I mostly wear suits at conferences so I need those. I have to wear different shirts so I need those.  Of course extra socks & underwear are a must, Duh. Different shoes for each suit are very important. There’s nothing worse than wearing a black suit & let’s say you forgot the black shoes, all you have are your brown ones. It doesn’t look good & I trust me when I say, you will spend the entire evening looking at the brown shoes wondering how many people are figuratively wondering why you’re wearing brown and not black shoes.  I know this to be a fact because I’ve see me do it.

Should be all set, right? Wrong. Don’t forget your wallet! I’ve done that before also. If it can be forgotten I’ve forgotten it on some trip to somewhere.

I think that someone could make a decent living hiring themselves out as professional packers. Hand them your list, they go through it with you, and voila your only job is to start your car and head to the airport. She’s already packed your luggage in your car and included your entire itinerary and any other necessary documentation.  After giving her a credit card number she pats you on the head and wishes you a safe flight and reminds you of the Power User discount. I might be willing to pay for that because when I say it takes me hours to pack, I’m not exaggerating.

Alright, I went out and purchased a new piece of luggage. One of the local luggage stores was having a killer sale on London Fog luggage. Had to have it! Retail Therapy is so rewarding & satisfying (until you get the credit card bill)

 Now if we could just someone else stand in the TSA lines for a reasonable price.


The Value of Attending Sage Summit 2011

There has been much discussion about the value of attending the Sage Summit 2011 Conference. I am one of those who have found Conferences to provide me with great value and I’ve learned a great amount of useable information. The technology industry changes daily and there’s no way to know about those changes if we don’t talk to the source. You can find the source(s) and other partners who have utilized those changes very successfully by attending events such as the new and improved Sage Summit.

Look at the business partners who consistently make the Top 10 list. Go to their website and see what they’re doing that you’re not. It’s probably a safe wager that they’ve been involved in Insights, BPAC members, etc.  It’s time to be accountable to ourselves for our failures or successes. It’s time to stop blaming others when we fail. It’s time to stop blaming the economy.

First, there is the long term value of creating lasting relationships with other BP’s or third party solutions and there are many knowledgeable partners and company representative who will gladly share that knowledge with you.

There has been a shift at Sage to offer more transparency and seeing the Management attend different social events & the Trade Show is testament to this new shift. We have a new CEO since our last Insights in Denver. Although Pascal Houillon is new to Sage North America he has been with Sage France, Belgium, Brazil, Switzerland, and Morocco since joining Sage in 1989. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him “out and about” during Sage Summit, so here’s another opportunity to meet more of the management team.

How do you put a price tag on product information you receive at Summit? What about face time with Sage executives? Truth be told, you can’t put a price tag on these items. The sessions alone that Sage is offering this year are numerous in count, while covering all Sage products, upgrades, changes etc.

Too often we get caught up on doing business as we’ve always done it, not knowing that there are better ways of streamlining and making our individual businesses more cost effective. But if we don’t go to Summit and attend sessions, talk to other BP’s, then we’re going to stay in that same spiraling vortex & will get the same results. One of my favorite quotes is:

“If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to keep getting what you get. If you want something new you’re going to have to try something new.”

~ Author Unknown

I have spoke to BP’s who have concerns that they have never “pulled” any new business from attending Insights and other conferences occasionally or even those who go each year. Then there’s the camp that has bought booth space, collected business cards & found that most of those cards belonged to other BP’s & not potential new deal opportunities. Is it worth the expenditure, they ask?

First, if you’re heading off to Insights with the sole intent of closing deals then you’re going to be disappointed. It’s kind of like going to a Barnum & Bailey Circus expecting Shakespeare; or going on vacation to Northern Minnesota in January wearing shorts, flip flops & sun tan lotion; you’re going to be disappointed by setting up unrealistic expectations.

Unfortunately most companies don’t look at non revenue generating items as having any value. Unless there’s a dollar amount involved most BP’s don’t “get it.” Here’s an example of one who does.

“It has always been MY rule that if I am serious about selling Sage products I need to attend Insights. I need to “breathe” the air, sense the mood of the Sage community, and get enough inspiration to see me through another year.” ~ Arlie Skory; Managing Partner at Skory Employer Solutions LLC ~

To the partners who don’t get it, there are three questions you need to ask yourself.

What value am I adding to the equation?
What Solution can I provide?
Am I participating in the success of my business?

Come to Washington D.C. & see the changes that are happening at Sage. You’re going to be surprised & more importantly you’re going to go back to your business with a new attitude & isn’t life itself about how you approach it? I think so & I hope to see each of you in D.C.

Note: Re-print of my 4/19/10 blog


Categories: Current Events Tags: BPAC, PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE, SAGE INSIGHTS, Sage Summit 2011, Pascal Houillon, Arlie Skory, TECHNOLOGY

What???? No Profile Photo??

Does anyone actually look like the Ghost Profile pictured above? If you know a person who does then do one of the following:

1. Get them to Urgent Care Immediately
2. Send their picture to a family member for identification confirmation
3. Just smack them upside their head for missing out on fantastic online opportunities by not including a profile photo. (Not too hard, we don’t condone violence, just reprimands)

Let me ask another question. Why would you not want your photo to accompany your profile?

1. You’re afraid to let people see what you look like?
2. You’re afraid the authorities will find you and serve that extradition order on you?
3. You just don’t fully understand the term “Social Network.”

Would you attend a Networking Event and wear a bag over your head? Hopefully your answer is no. Then why do people not include their photo online?  I was once one of those  people who didn’t like to include my photo because I’m vain and I don’t think that I photograph very well. I don’t like the way that I really look to the camera. I have a perception of what I’d really like to look like but reality is reality and there’s nothing but alot of expensive surgery that is going to fix that.

Joseph Paris from Xonitek told me that he puts his photograph everywhere, not because he’s narcisstic but because a photograph makes people feel like they know you. It can be a differentiator to people. Joseph is a keynote speaker who speaks all over the world and has many global connections, he told me about the dozens of times that he’d be minding his own business at the airport, cigar lounge, etc. and someone would walk up to him as if they knew him and introduce themselves all from remembering his photo online.

Because I respect Joseph I tried it and at the first Insights that I attended after starting the group was in Nashville. I was walking with the Sage Rock Star of all Sage Rock Stars, Ed Kless and people were saying hi to me and introducing themselves and I remember Ed saying something to the effect that it was my turn to be a Rock Star. That’s not why I included my photo but I must admit it was kind of cool.

Last Insights in Denver I dragged John Shaver into the Churchills Cigar Lounge in the lobby of the fabulous Palace Hotel. I was enjoying a cigar, John was enjoying his double malt, aged 58 years in an oak barrel Scotch. (I’m exaggerating about the Scotch and have no clue what the difference is between a single malt or double malt Scotch is as I’m not a drinker, but ask me about the characteristics of a Cuban Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure Especial or a Cuban Vegas Robaina Famoso cigar and I will talk until either you get up and walk away mumbling to yourself or your eyes start to droop from sheer boredom.)

Anyway, back to the story a gentleman walks up to our table, introduces himself as David Faye, owner of Faye Consulting located in the San Fernando Valley. He recognized me from my LinkedIn profile and as a result David and I have become friends. We’ve shared meals together, smoked a few Cuban cigars, all as a direct result of including a photograph.

The point that I’m trying to make is that if you’re going to take the time and join a social network group include your profile photograph. Tell us a little about yourself and get involved in discussions. Ask & answer questions, add people to your network, connect with other groups. What’s the worse thing that will happen? You just might meet your next employer/employee, get your next project just because you set your profile up to garner interest from others.

Don’t be a lurker and sit by as the social media train rolls through. It will leave you waiting at the station.

To take a poll on LinkedIn regarding profile photographs please follow this link; http://tinyurl.com/bkizerpoll

BTW: This is the faceless Avatar from LinkedIn when you don’t include a photograph. Alot of you all look alike.

Is There Any Power in PowerPoint?

Have you   ever noticed that effective speakers rarely use PowerPoints? Speakers know that they’re the reason that there’s people in the seats, and that they’re the star, not a PowerPoint presentation, no matter how well it’s done. 

For years we’ve communicated successfully by using our verbal skills. the “Experts” (whoever they are) say the best method is story telling and the best stories are those that aren’t memorized, practiced or rehearsed. If your topic is something that you have a passion for notes and PowerPoint slides aren’t necessary and will actually detract from what you have to say.

How many times have you sat in on a keynote and because you were so busy writing down what was on the PowerPoint that you missed out on what was being said? It’s also been said that PowerPoints are not only a distraction, but too often they’re used as a crutch for those who aren’t confident in their speaking abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy putting a PowerPoint together, I just don’t like nor endorse using them because I’ve found myself leaning on them when giving a talk or presentation. I find the same for using notes. I almost feel mechanical and lose the passion and the ability to stay loose which I think are important ingredients for an effective speaker.

Making eye contact with your audience is necessary. How else can you gauge whether your audience is listening to you or not? If your head and eyes are focused on notes or your carefully crafted PowerPoint you will miss reaction or non reaction by your audience.

Here’s some clues that your audience isn’t listening:

Texting on the BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, etc.
Playing Hang Man, Solitaire, etc. on the iPad
Flirting with the girl/guy next to you
Many trips to the restroom
Many trips to the restroom and not returning
Many trips to the restroom, not returning with the girl/guy you were flirting with earlier
Frequent glances at wrist watch

I hope you’re getting the message I’m attempting to convey. If you haven’t here it is. If you can’t do without a PowerPoint, keep it brief.

Wayne Schulz sent me the following link to an article that he had just read.

It was written by Socialcast founder Tim Young detailing how he raised $10 million Venture Capital money using just a 5 slide deck. It was originally published at Knowledge is Social.