This week we’re delighted to welcome Alison Mead as our guest blogger. Alison is a Sage Business Partner at Silicon Bullet. As a Business Partner Alison works directly with our customers to make sure they get the advice they need to select the right software, make sure everything goes smoothly when implementing their new software and gives them the ongoing support their business needs. You may well have spotted Alison on Twitter, or Facebook or even her newly launched Silicon Bullet blog [btw I thoroughly recommend a visit to her blog; it's packed with loads of useful advice for all Sage customers].
What do customers look for in their Sage Accredited Reseller? How can we add to the overall Sage experience?
Well, as ‘The Sage Lady’, as I am often called, I hope I can shed some light on this.
You can never get a full picture of a company and how they work, what their ethos is, and what they need until you meet them face to face, and that is what the network of resellers are able to do. When a company wants to see someone in person, on their own premises, we are the ones who can turn up on the doorstep and help them out and drink their tea. We are the human side of Sage.
Sometimes, with the best will in the world, a large company can’t understand quite how small companies and sole traders work. Many resellers are small companies themselves, so we are able to offer advice based on our experience of using the Sage products as an end user rather than just as a developer or trainer. Often we know if their IT infrastructure will support Sage and how to fully integrate the products with Excel and Microsoft Word, as well as offering other complementary services.
The Sage training given on site can be one-to-one and bespoke, so instead of learning just how to raise or edit an invoice in Sage for example, a trainer can help the customer design an invoice with logos and html links, decide on the specific form that product codes should take, and run through real life examples that really mean something, and as part of the training session start sending real invoices out to customers.
As a social media user myself I am able to advise on how Twitter links and Facebook pages could be used in the business and added to invoice designs and statements, which is something I am being asked about more and more by clients. After all, what better people to market to than people who have bought from you already – and why waste all that white space on your pdf invoice when you could have a handy logo that could be clicked on, alongside that excellent Sage Pay ‘Pay Now’ button?
I do find that these one-to-one sessions need to be short – 3-4 hours at most, as they are quite intensive, and I see people’s eyes glaze over and half expect their heads to start spinning if I go on for too long.
One example where I feel I really added value recently was for a company who had been using Sage for a while, but the nominal structure was designed more for producing year end accounts than making day to day management decisions. Sitting down with the company, I was able to understand what they really needed, and then offer a solution, taking them through the changes required step by step. Now the desired reports for making decisions can be produced straight from Sage instead of in Excel, and all the previously required number crunching and manipulation is a thing of the past.
I have recently started writing a blog with hints and tips about using Sage to share my expertise. My blog combines Sage hints and tips on things I often show people during training with more general articles about running my own business and networking. Hopefully this is another way that we at Silicon Bullet can add value to Sage customers and other resellers through shared knowledge.
Alison Mead, Silicon Bullet