Sage Summit 2013 – Are You In Or Are You Out?

Gaylord National Harbor Resort

Gaylord National Harbor Resort

There has been much discussion about the value of attending Sage Summit 2013 Partner & Customer Conference, which is being held in Washington D.C. July 21 – 26 at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort.

This is my favorite Gaylord because it’s easy to navigate (Not like the Opryland Human Maze), it’s close to some outside restaurants and clubs, (Again not like Opryland which is a $25 Cab ride downtown Nashville)

But I won’t miss it and neither should you!  I’ve have found that Summit provides me with great value and relevant information. Our industry changes daily and there’s no way to stay on top of these changes if we don’t talk to the source(s). You can find the source(s) and other partners who have utilized those changes successfully by attending Sage Summit 2013. 

Most of the real interesting conversations are those that you find in the hallways between sessions and keynotes. If you want to watch a partner who is adept at deciphering what is said and more importantly what’s not said, find Wayne Schulz and ask him if it’s okay to tag along, he’ll probably say “no” but go anyway. It’s how he and I became friends.

Its eye opening, informational and very rarely is his take on things wrong. I talk to Wayne 3-5 times a week and the conversation is always lively. You can catch Wayne on his daily morning walks at 6:00 a.m. along with other partners like Robert Wood, Peter Wolf & I swear I’m going to get up at Zero Dark 30 to walk with them.

If sessions are your thing then go park yourself in every Ed Kless session that has an open seat. You won’t leave disappointed. I have sat in many of his sessions, taken the week long Consulting Academy, gone to conferences just to hear him speak and rate Ed as one of the top speakers in our industry.

Look at the business partners and vendors who consistently attend Summit.  If you want the keys to success they’re the people to see. Go to their booths and see what they’re doing that you’re not. It’s probably a safe wager that they’ve been involved in Summit for many years.

“It has always been MY rule that if I am serious about selling Sage products I need to attend Summit. 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 

There is a long term value of creating lasting relationships with other colleagues who will share their knowledge with you. I’ve spent many hours talking with them about the direction that our industry is headed.

What price tag do you put on the information you receive at Summit? How about face time with Sage executives, visiting with 3rd party providers? I don’t think you can put a tag on these. The sessions alone that Sage offers are topic rich.

We get caught up on doing work as we’ve always have not aware there are better ways to streamline our businesses & become more cost effective. If we don’t go to Summit & feed off the synergy then we’re going to stay in that same rut getting the same results.

There are BP’s who have concerns that they don’t write any new business at Summit. They’ve bought booth space, & brought a large group. Is it worth the expenditure? Can I justify the costs? How much business will I miss out on while I’m at Summit? These are valid questions. The answer is simple….How much effort are you willing to exert while you’re there.

If you’re going to Summit with the sole intent of closing deals you will be disappointed. It’s like going to the circus expecting Shakespeare; this is an unrealistic expectation. A lot of companies look at expenditures that don’t provide immediate return as worthless. I think of attending conferences the same as Spring Training, The chances of a productive year increase exponentially with a successful Spring Training.

If you’re still not sold, here are 3 questions to ask yourself.

►By not going am I adding or taking away value from the success of my business?

► What new technology can I find at Summit that I can add to my product portfolio?

►Am I the problem or am I the solution?

Come to D.C. & see what’s going on at Sage. You will go back to your business with new tools, ideas & a new attitude.

See you in Washington D.C.
Bill Kizer
http://na.sage.com/sage-summit/
http://billkizer.com

Analytics? We Don’t Need No Stinking Analytics…….

[FINN]

Okay, so the heading is just a bit over the top, but I don’t believe by much.

I’ve had several websites over the past few years & when I used to speak of them it was always from the Analytics perspective. How many unique visitors did the site have? How much time were they spending on it? What was the Bounce Rate? What city were they arriving from? What foreign countries, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah ad nauseum.

I realized that we had been sold a bill of goods by Google and took the current Analytics at face value as gospel. It was also, I believe, a stroke of genius on their part when they made these available to anyone by offering them at no cost.

What did those metrics really say? More importantly what didn’t they say?

“Most businesses measure only Activity Metrics which I’ve come to believe don’t tell the whole story. What we should be looking at are Outcome Metrics  which monitor impact,” according to Jonathan Becher, CMO SAP.

After reading his brief column titled “Counting What Counts: How Outcome Metrics Have Changed the Game” in the Sept. 24th issue of Forbes Magazine, I felt that I has found a kindred spirit.

This idea that maybe we were looking at the wrong metrics was the basis for the movie Moneyball in which Billy Beane, then the General Manager of the Oaklands Athletics MLB team turned the baseball world upside down with his theory. He had a lot of naysayers within, old school scouts, owners, even his own team manager.

In baseball where $10 million plus annual salaries are fairly common Beane was given a very small budget  ($40mil) to field a team of 25 active players & 15 others who make up a 40 man roster. Beane determined that baseball had been all wrong in what metrics it was using to draft & trade players & what their dollar value was to the team. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players had been determined by Beane to be relics of an earlier time.

Instead he theorized that metrics such as OBP (On Base Percentage) SLG (Slugging Percentage) were the Impact Metrics & were far more important than RBI’s, SB’s, & BA.

Oakland went on to a 103 – 59 record, second only to the New York Yankees who finished the year with a 103-58 season at the cost of over $100 million just for player’s salaries to achieve the same number of wins.

Becher goes on to say “We live in an increasingly data driven world. Unlocking the power of the data & analytics provides insights & a competitive edge….”

This is exciting to me & I plan on looking more into the Impact Metrics versus the easily attainable Activity Metrics that we currently put so much faith into.

I now know what Ed Kless feels like when he’s attempting to teach software partners a more financially sound method of billing for their services. Many of those partners are CPA’s, a group who thrive in the thrill of Hourly Billing. I believe that it takes courage & a firm conviction to believe in something that is totally opposite of the “norm.” It makes it expodentially difficult when you exist in a world that lives on the time worn creed, “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Another (2) Reason(s) To Attend Sage Summit 2012

One of my goals at my early Insights was to meet these two guys listed below. The first was Ed Kless and I would attend every one of Ed’s Sessions, sit in the front row where I made sure Ed could see me and then I’d spend the entire hour thinking of questions to ask. (Some were good, some weren’t) I went to Sage Consulting Academy in Dallas and I still think it’s one of the best investments that any VAR can make and it doesn’t have to be just for your consulting staff. I’m Sales oriented and found it to be invaluable. Since those early days Ed has had a positive influence on me and when I really have an issue I know I can call him and get the feedback that I need. With his travel schedule it makes it a little tough, but I know he’s just a phone call away.

When I first started working at Blytheco somehow a newsletter came through my e-mail from some guy named Wayne Schulz and after a few weeks of deleting them I started to read them. I was surprised that this VAR from small town Glastonbury, CT. had his pulse on the Sage environment and that so many people knew him. As with Ed I met Wayne at an Insights meeting because I wanted to get to know him better and find out more about him, how he got his information (He still won’t tell me) and only using information that he could confirm.

What I found from both Ed & Wayne was that you can succeed and still hold on to your core values.

I asked Wayne and Ed to be Managers on the Sage LinkedIn group because I trust their judgement and know that they have solid reputations in the Sage Software World. There’s been times when I would see a post that would send me flying through the roof and I would run it by them only to hear that I needed to come in off the ledge. Neither of them are “Yes” Men. If they disagree they’ll let you know.

Wayne and I talk 2-5 times weekly with most calls running 30 minutes or so and the topics are of a wide variety but mostly center around what’s going on at Sage, who he just saw at the Indian Casino and his family.

I sometimes think about what would have happened if I hadn’t trusted my gut instincts and taken the chance to meet this guys.

So if you’re going to Summit for the 1st time and are looking to maintain new relationships, work the floor and don’t stop working it until you can’t walk anymore. Wayne is always surprised at how many people I know at Summit. I’ve just made it a goal and if I can help someone feel a little bit more comfortable in a sea of nameless faces then I’ve accomplished what I’ve watched people like Ed & Wayne do for years.

Have fun and I’m looking forward to another Sage Summit and I’m anxious to see what Danielle and her team have up their sleeve.

BTW: Tomorrow 7/10 is Wayne’s birthday. Drop him a Happy Birthday wish and if he wants to share his advanced age with you that’s his business.

Are You In Or Out? ~ Sage Summit 2012

Robert Schayes, Himanshu Palsule, Bill Kizer, Pascal Houllion Sage Summit 2011

“I go to Summit annually to see old friends and create new relationships, but more importantly I go because I know my competition is going to be there.” Brandt Morrell, President and COO of Altec 

There has been much discussion about the value of attending Sage Summit 2012 Conference, which is being held in Nashville in August at the Gaylord Opryland.

Add to the mix that there have been many changes recently starting with CEO Pascal Houllion’s Opening Keynote last year about the new re-branding strategy to the recent “Journey of Transformation” announcements and one could come to the conclusion that attendance may be a bit light. But I won’t miss it and neither should you!  I’ve have found that Summit provides me with great value and relevant information. Our industry changes daily and there’s no way to stay on top of these changes if we don’t talk to the source(s). You can find the source(s) and other partners who have utilized those changes successfully by attending Sage Summit 2012.

 In a following blog will be my Annual Top 10 Vendors/Booths  to see. Don’t miss them!

Most of the real interesting conversations are those that you find in the hallways between sessions and keynotes. If you want to watch a partner who is adept at decipher what is said and more importantly what’s not said, find Wayne Schulz and tag along. Its eye opening, informational and very rarely is his take on things wrong. I talk to Wayne 3-5 times a week and the conversation is always lively. You can catch Wayne on his daily morning walks at 6:00 a.m. along with other partners like Robert Wood .

If sessions are your thing then go park yourself in every Ed Kless session that has an open seat. You won’t leave disappointed. I have sat in many of his sessions, taken the week long Consulting Academy, gone to conferences just to hear him speak and rate Ed as one of the top speakers in our industry.

Look at the business partners and vendors who consistently attend Summit.  If you want the keys to success they’re the people to see. Go to their booths and see what they’re doing that you’re not. It’s probably a safe wager that they’ve been involved in Summit for many years.

“It has always been MY rule that if I am serious about selling Sage products I need to attend Summit. 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 ~

There is a long term value of creating lasting relationships with other BP’s or third party solution providers who will gladly share their knowledge with you. I have spent many hours talking with other partners, providers and executives about the direction that our industry is headed.

How do you put a price tag on industry information you receive at Summit? What about face time with Sage executives?  Where else can you visit directly with 3rd party representatives all in one room? 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, covering Sage products, upgrades, changes, new products 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’ll keep getting what you get. If you want something new you’re going to have to try something new.”  ~ Author Unknown ~

I have spoken to BP’s who have concerns that they have never written any new business while attending Summit. Then there’s that have bought booth space, brought a large contingency from their office, who collect business cards & found that most of those cards belonged to other Business Partners and not potential new opportunities. Is it worth the expenditure? How do I justify the costs? I can’t build an acceptable ROI from attending. How much business will I miss out on while I’m at Summit? These are all valid questions and concerns. Brandt Morrell, President and COO of Altec which provides productivity enhancing technologies for Sage partners  and is a long time Summit supporter wrapped it up very neatly in a recent one on one conversation. “I go to Summit annually to see old friends and create new relationships, but more importantly I go because I know my competition is going to be there.”

First, if you’re heading off to Summit 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 and the best you get is the infamous Clown Car; or going on vacation to the North Pole in January wearing shorts, flip flops & sun tan lotion, with your surfboard and golf clubs; you’re going to be disappointed by setting up unrealistic expectations. A lot of companies look at expenditures that don’t provide immediate revenue as having no value. Unless there’s a dollar amount involved most Partners don’t get it. I think of activities like conferences the same as I do Spring Training, (that’s baseball for the uninformed.) The chances of having a productive year without Spring Training are very small, even for perennial powerhouses like the Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.

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

By not going am I adding or taking away value from the success of my business?
What new technology can I find at Summit and add to my offerings to my customers and prospects?
Am I part of the problem or am I part of the solution?

Come to Nashville & see the changes that are happening at Sage and in our industry. You’re going to be surprised and more importantly you’re going to go back to your business with new tools, ideas and a new attitude and isn’t life itself about how you approach it?

I think so and I hope to see each of you in Tennessee.

Zappos; The Best At Delivering The WOW Experience? Maybe………………

I’ve been hearing more and more this year that I have to go to Henderson, Nevada & take the Tour of Zappos. Its supposed to be incredible, blah, blah, blah. I’d heard that if you contacted them that they would send you a copy of the Zappos Culture Book, a collection of personal written statements by the employees. In a random sampling I started to get intrigued by what they were saying about the place that they spend the bulk of their day.

I wasn’t impressed by them when it took them 6 weeks to get my Culture Book in my hands. Order lost, second one sent to wrong address,wrong zip, wrong street, wrong city, wrong state.

After each incident they would say that they were taking care of it with no results. Finally I sent them the e-mail that no one ever wants to get from me. I call it “Come to Jesus Letter Via Social Media.” I even have a template of it, just in case I forget something.

One day after my last round of e-mails with them I received the Zappos Culture Book, a signed copy of “Delivering Happiness” written by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and one small item, still don’t know what it is, my sons will. Some people think that you need to overwhelm your clients with semi expensive gifts at Christmas.
We go out of our way to make sure that we send to them their favorite Champagne, Scotch, etc.

There was one additional item in the package that I’m going to save. It has a retail value of less than $2 but to me it was the most valuable item that I received. 

It was a HAND WRITTEN card from someone name Rocco apologizing for the mixups. It completely wiped out the mistakes & made me a Zappos fan. It was a WOW experience. By the way it was sent from Rocco DeBenedictis who has the title of Culture Magician and it read…..

“Dear Bill, I do apologize for the long delay….If there is anything I can help you with, please let me know…..Rocco

The card meant the most to me. I am now a Zappos fan just like Tammy Mathews,  Ed Kless, Himanshu Palsule & Judy Thornell

If you’ve had a WOW experience with Zappos please share it in the comments section. 

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.