Channel Marker

Oct 22 2007   8:48AM GMT

Intuit officially launches channel program for mid-market

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Intuit says its newly launched solution provider program for mid-market companies will make QuickBooks for Enterprise a viable alternative to Sage Software and Microsoft ERP products.

The company, long a leader in accounting software for consumers and very small businesses, says there is a huge audience of larger companies–those with 20 to 500 employees–that is not addressed by those pricier wares.

The just-shipping  QuickBooks Enterprise version 8.0 weighs in at $3,000 for five concurrent seats and ranges up to $9,000 for 20 seats. The latter price is a hike from $7,500 for the previous version.

To better penetrate this market Intuit recruited new VARs, many of whom are also in the Sage and Microsoft camps, and signed up 75 solution providers. These partners consist of many who are new to Intuit as well as some current Intuit Pro Advisor partners to help design this channel program, says Jim Gregg, channel director of Intuit’s Mid-Market Group.

The company did its homework where the rubber hits the road:  Partner compensation. Base margin on a software sale is 25 percent, but partners can garner another 20 percent based on other factors. Gregg said, overall, if the partner does well in both sales and service components, he or she can get to 60 percent margin.

If a sale initiated by a partner ends up going direct, the partner will still get 15 points of margin. Partners can get up to an additional 6 percent based on customer satisfaction as measured by the company’s quarterly Net Promoter” research.

The company will also assess points of margin-2 percent-for partners who actively participate in its online “Live Community” support forum. Another 5 percent of margin can be had for bringing in a customer from a competitive offering or converting a current, but unsupported, Intuit customer.

Still another 20 percent is to be had each month by referring customers to QuickBooks Merchant Services, the QuickBase database, and vInventory on-Demand Inventory Management. That bonus will be paid as long as the partner remains a member in good standing of the Intuit program.

Intuit, Mountain View, Calif., is looking for partners to join some of its existing Pro Advisor network members, for this program. The goal is to sign up 250 members in the U.S. this year. The overall goal is 750 partners, Gregg said.

Qualifying partners must pay an initiation fee of $1,000; annual membership is $1,500.

Lori Nicks, president of Accounting Technology Systems of Tucson, is aboard.

A long-time Solomon (now Microsoft Dynamics SL) partner, Nicks says Intuit’s price point will get her into smaller accounts more easily.  “With SL, you’re looking at $10,000 to $15,000 to get in,” which is too rich for many small accounts, Nicks says.

Nicks was part of Intuit’s pilot program and says she’s getting quite a few referrals from the vendor and ha picked up several consulting clients who initially bought through Intuit. She says her company will continue to offer Solomon as well as QuickBooks Enterprise.

By way of background, Intuit is one of the few software companies that has managed to beat back incursions by Microsoft into its key turf  multiple times. Microsoft’s latest foray, Small Business Accounting, has apparently also failed to convince many users to leave Quicken.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at badarrow@comcast.net.

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