How to Recruit 100 Resellers in 6 Months
On Wednesday, 11 May 2016 I attended the launch of Erik Damgaard’s new ERP system Uniconta and on 18 May I published a post on what I heard and saw. I checked up on the progress with Per Pedersen last week (Per is heading up reseller recruitment for Uniconta), and was surprised to learn that exactly 100 resellers had signed up since the launch in May.
In addition to the 100 resellers Uniconta have signed up 75 chartered accountants that will use the ERP system for their clients have signed up, too.
Not a single cold call required
All the resellers have been signed up from inbound inquiries, meaning that Per Pedersen and his team didn’t make a single cold call to a potential reseller. The news that Erik Damgaard launched a new ERP system spread like a wild fire with the help of press coverage and social media, as well as from personal referrals.
“We didn’t make any restrictions for joining us as a reseller,” says Per Pedersen. “Our policy was to sign up anybody who showed interest and took the initiative to get in touch with us. We sent them the paperwork, they signed and returned the documents within a few days and we were in business.”
Uniconta has never met face to face with most of the resellers that have signed up, but they are now visiting them individually to discuss how they can best help them grow their business. The objective is to help the resellers build the capacity to generate more than 10 new customers per month, preferably with add-on functionality and solutions developed by the reseller.
No certification and partner program
Uniconta still hasn’t put any restrictions on joining as a reseller, they have no certification program and they have no partner program. Per Pedersen, a veteran in the software industry with many years of experience working with resellers, believes that the playing field has changed and that the days where the vendors put a fence around their products are over.
“We offer a training program for all our resellers, but we do not make it mandatory to attend,” says Per Pedersen. “If people manage to learn how to run their business with Uniconta in different ways, then it’s fine with us. We provide marketing and sales support for those who share our vision and ambitions and are prepared to invest. So far we have simply taken the opportunities case by case.”
Per Pedersen expects that over the next few months the new resellers will fall into three groups:
Group A, that is expected to be around 20 resellers, will use Uniconta as their core product, will offer industry solutions as extensions and will primarily focus on winning new customers.
Group B, that is expected to be around 30 resellers, will first concentrate on migrating Microsoft C5 customers to Uniconta.
Group C, the remaining 50 resellers, will have Uniconta as a complimentary service and will also primarily migrate their current Microsoft C5 customers and customers of other older ERP systems.
What attracts a reseller to Uniconta?
It is beyond any doubt that the name Erik Damgaard brought the message of a new ERP system to the market much faster than had the same product been developed by some unknown developer. My own blog post about the Uniconta launch is my most viewed post this year. However, knowing about Uniconta doesn’t mean that you automatically sign up as reseller. There must be something else in the equation.
From the resellers that I have talked to the message is the same: The partner value proposition is just very attractive. Uniconta exclusively serve the market through resellers. Any customer that signs up with Uniconta will be passed to a reseller. Uniconta comes with an SDK and an open web services interface allowing the resellers to add functionality, develop vertical and horizontal solutions and integrate other products that they also resell. Erik Damgaard has copied his proven business model; the resellers will get the vast majority of the money from the customer’s wallet. Not because he is offering high reseller discounts, but because the reseller can add functionality and sell services on top of Uniconta. While this is attractive in itself it also enables the resellers to differentiate from all the other resellers, avoiding head to head competition with the exact same product to the exact same customer segment for the exact same reseller margin.
Uniconta can turn a reseller into a value added reseller (VAR) and even an independent software vendor (ISV) and that is a much more attractive partner value proposition that makes the reseller’s customer value proposition more unique and sticky vis-a-vis her customers.
And resellers are actually selling
Uniconta was released for commercial sales in September 2016 and so far around 20% of the resellers have actually acquired customers and are invoicing on a regular basis.
“We are busy training our resellers that in turn are busy getting their first customers on board and extending the functionality to serve more customers in more segments,” says Per Pedersen. “I estimate that all resellers will have their first customers up and running before the end of Q1/2017.”
The fast onboarding of the resellers and the short time to revenue is very unusual in the software industry, but the cloud-based SaaS format and the migration tools offered by Uniconta makes the switch relatively painless for new customers.
Inquiries from abroad
“There is a long list of inquiries from abroad,” says Per Pedersen. “We know from our experience with Concorde XAL and Axapta that localization is a prerequisite for penetrating foreign markets and we are currently considering how we can organise and maintain this development effort effectively. We have global ambitions, but we take it one step at a time.”
Stay tuned and I will report from the trenches as Uniconta makes progress.
Full disclosure: I do not work for or have any commercial interest in Uniconta. I know Erik Damgaard and Per Pedersen from my time with Damgaard and Navision and I have decided to follow and document the progress of their new company.