I Could Have Missed It All…..

Fathers  Day 2013 6This past week was the annual Sage Summit Partner/Customer Conference  which was held in Washington D.C. at the Gaylord Conference Center and Resort.

I have been to every Sage Summit since its inception and more than a few when  it was Insights.Bill Bo Paul

This Summit was a special one for me and if the doctors are right it will be my  last so it was important for me to attend. Sage gave me the opportunity to say thanks to the Sage Community and also to tell the attendees what’s going on with my health.
Bill Hugh SeanBill Sean Tess BorosPascal Driving BusPascal Bill CannonsWalking At Summit 2Bill Bo PaulPeter Bill Wayne

Joe Noll of Lancaster, PA showed me what an incredible human being he is, as  did Dave & Cheryl from LDK Consulting. The love that the Sage community showed me was overwhelming. An example of this was when I was talking to Diana Waterman, an incredible human being and one of my favorite Sage employees, a  gentleman walked up to us that I’ve never met and introduced himself as Pramod Gandhi  from Dubai. In a very humble manner he asked about my health and then he said, “Bill, we are  praying for you in Dubai.” You could have bowled Diana and myself over  with a feather. It was then that I finally understood the global reach that my  LinkedIn Group had accomplished. The entire week was like that for me from Sage executives to partners like Pramod.

I had to conserve my energy so I didn’t go out to the parties. Today I’m wiped  out and know that I will fall asleep right after takeoff but no matter I will take these memories with me on whatever journey I embark on.

Thank you to the following ( I apologize if I’ve left your name off, it’s no  reflection of you, but rather a reflection of my crappy memory)

Joo Sohn / Kevin Rooker / LDK Consulting / Joe Langer / Diana Waterman / Sophie  Leguillette / Himanshu Palsule  /Tammy Mathews/ Connie Certusi /Pascal Houllion / Wayne Schulz/ Lori Schultz / Pramod Gandhi / Danielle Cote / Robert Wood/ Joe Ward / Suzanne Spear / Joe Noll  and of course Marti Wolfson

I do hope and pray that my doctors are wrong in their prognosis because I do want to live longer and spend more time with my sons and I sure don’t want to miss Sage Summit 2014 in Vegas. Please don’t stop being who you are. What I’ve found going through this process is that it doesn’t take much effort to make someone’s day just a little bit better as you did mine.

I have been given money for the purpose of adding to my son’s college fund and also for liver cancer research. I hope this doesn’t come off as pandering but both are great places to donate money.

My mailing address is:
1025 Stratton Drive
Vista, CA. 92083

BK Fav - Copy

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.

Who Should Attend Sage Summit 2012 & Why

Bill ~ Trent ~ Trevor Kizer

Gary ~ Connie ~ Jennifer ~ Erick @ Sage Summit 2011

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

Mark Kauffmann & Her Girls

Sean Leanne Tuohy Wayne Schulz Bill Kizer

Summit 2011 Twitter Meetup

There has been much discussion about the value of attending the Sage Summit 2012 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 Summit, BPAC membership, etc. It’s time to be accountable to ourselves for our failures or successes. It’s time to stop blaming others when we fail.

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 a testament to this new shift. Don’t be surprised to find yourself engaged in open and honest dialogues with top management.

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 and of course Social Media.

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 Summit 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. Where’s the ROI they ask?

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; or going on vacation to Northern Minnesota in January wearing shorts, flip flops & sun tan lotion looking for a sun tan. You’re going to be disappointed by 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.” 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?
What am I adding to the success of my business?

Come to Nashville & 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 Nashville

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

Final Sage Summit Wrap Up

I woke up in my own bed in San Diego and that’s always a great feeling; not that waking up at the Gaylord National Harbor is a bad thing, but there is nowhere like home. I get to spend the day with my sons and that always makes for a special day.

Sage Summit 2011 is now a memory but what sweet memories. This conference was by far the best Sage Event that I’ve attended for many reasons.

The highlights for me were being asked to be an endorsed Sage Summit blogger. I had a front seat to the growth and acceptance of  social media and how far it has come in the past 3 years since I first started the Sage Partners, Employees & Alumni LinkedIn Group. I got the opportunity to talk to alot of partners about their social media strategy and how it important it has come within their respective businesses in terms of marketing.

My other highlight was being invited to a Meet & Greet with Sean & Leanne Tuohy. What marvelous people they are. Their story is inspiring & I especially loved their message of how just One Person Can Make A Difference. Their journey that was the genesis for the blockbuster movie “The Blindside” is a testament to a core belief of giving rather than receiving. 

There are so many highlights from this event but what really stuck out for me was the accessibility & transparency of the executives. Our new CEO Pascal Houllion is dynamic, friendly and I think our Road Map under his leadership is going to take us places we’ve never been.

Himanshu Palsule, Laurie Schulz, Tom Miller, Dennis Frahmann, Pascal Van Dooren, Connie Certusi, Dominique Bopp, Alok Tyagi,  & many others make Sage what it is today and what it will become. Hold on tight for the ride of your life.

For those that don’t know & asked me for directions & a whole host of other Sage related questions,  I am not an employee of Sage however I am as strong a Sage supporter as you will find. I don’t walk around with blinders on, but if I have questions I will ask and I normally get a response the is satisfactory to me. Just so that we’re clear nothing would give me greater pleasure than to work for any of the people above that I’ve mentioned.

There I go again on a different tangent but to get back to Sage Summit; there are a group of people that are largely responsible for the success of this past event and that the Entire Events team. I hope that each of you get a chance to thank them for the long hours, creative ideas and attention to the smallest detail to make Sage Summit the success it was.

I hope that each of you who attended enjoyed yourself and that you will be in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland for version 2.0 of Sage Summit. I know that barring any unforseen bumps in the road I’ll be there if for no other reason than to see what the Events Team has in store for us.

Have a prosperous year and I wish each of you the very best as we move forward under the direction of our new CEO, Pascal Houllion.

Bienvenue vers l’Amérique, Pascal Houllion

Bienvenue vers l’Amérique, Pascal.

I hope that is the right verbiage for welcoming you to America.

For those that don’t know Sage had it Annual Conference this year at the Gaylord National Harbor. It was the first time that we had combined customers and partners together and the result has been, in this writer’s opinion, phenomenal.

What has stuck out for me is the transparency that the Sage executives have shown. They have been accessible, friendly and seemingly willing to listen to what is being said.

Our new CEO, Pascal Houllion comes from France and has been with Sage for the past 22 years. What has impressed me is his ability to “hang with the employees & partners” yet maintain that CEO image. On the bus ride back from the Museum last night, which was a fantastic evening and I hope that you all got the opportunity to try your hand at flying a jet in the simulators. I don’t think that we even came close to gunning down one enemy jet but the laughter that came from trying was worth it. 

But I digress, on the ride back we were talking about what I had been hearing from partners in terms of concerns, etc. and I also wanted to know what his priority list looked like. But he told the story of travelling with Himanshu Pasule and getting to a city where he was going to be for several days and his agenda had been filled with meetings. He kindly asked them to cancel all the meetings because what he wanted to do and has been doing since his arrival is going out and meeting partners and asking them what they needed, etc. When was the last time that we’ve had that from a CEO?

Laurie Schultz comes the closest with her Road Shows.

I want to single out another long time Sage executive, one that I got to spend some time with and that’s Himanshu Palsule. We were sitting outside the hotel and just started talking about things. I reminded him of the time that my sons came to the airport with their mother to pick me up from Insights in Orlando. He was so genuinely kind to them and was interested in what they had to say even though they were just 5 & 6 at the time. Small gestures like that go along way with me. They are the gestures of a genuinely kind person. We probably spent 45 minutes just talking about alot of different topics and I left to go to my room impressed one more time with Himanshu. So if you’re reading this at some point, Himanshu, thanks for your time that evening.

I want to point out one more Sage executive and then I’m going to head in another direction with this blog because I don’t want to feel like I’ve left anyone out. Laurie Schultz is as accessible an executive as anyone. This goes back to the Road Shows that she conducts and criss crosses the country to hear what we have to say, even when it can be a bit harsh she stands tall and doesn’t attempt to defend Sage’s position, she attempts to explain what Sage is doing, where Sage is going and the anticipated time it’s going to take to get there.

But what really showed me what type of a person she is was an email that I received from her back in April. My younger brother Tom had passed away and I wrote an open letter in the form of a blog to him and posted it. Her note was one of genuine concern and I was very touched by her small gesture of kindness.

Just an aside, please attend these Road Shows. Sage wants to know what you think and if you’re not attending these free events how can you expect any change? It’s incumbent upon us to let people know what we feel.

I could go on and on about the accesibility of the Executive Team, people like Tom Miller, (Does He Ever Stop Smiling?) Dennis Frahmann, Connie Certusi, the Events Team, you name them they have been very visible at this event and I’m sure that most partners would be happy about that.

Frankly, I don’t know how the Events Team is going to top this one but it will be fun to see and I hope that everyone comes back next year as we head to Nashville to see what we’ll do for Pascal’s 2nd Summit.