Orlando, Fla. – Best Software Inc. will hand over US$1 million to its top 100 North American partners this year to help them expand their sales teams, part of an effort to grow the company’s revenues.

“”We need more feet on the street. We need to take market share away from our competitors,””

Taylor Macdonald, the conglomerate’s senior vice-president for business partners said at its annual Insights conference here last week.

“”There are two ways to do it. The boys in Redmond put a businessman on every corner. That’s a sure way to make sure business partners make less money. The Best way is to make more productive partners and hire more sales people.””

The strategy is to get partners to hire 100 trained salespersons in 100 days starting in September. As an incentive the top selling one hundred Best VARs in 2003 can qualify for US$10,000 to cover training, which will start that month.

“”We’re putting our money where our mouth is,”” said Macdonald. “”We’re committed to you. We do want to be your partner of choice. We’re focused on revitalizing a new sales force.””

This year’s conference marks the first for its new acquistions, including business management software vendor Accpac International Inc., of Pleasanton, Calif.

Best, the North American entity of UK-based The Sage Group plc, bought four companies in the past year including Accpac and Timberline, which serves the construction and real estate markets, giving it a total of 40 product lines. Best acquired Accpac from Computer Associates International Inc. for US$110 million in cash.

Building on the Partner Advantage Program, which was announced at last year’s conference as an umbrella program, the company has created an enhanced Partners for Growth Program.

It provides partners with hiring assistance, fast-track training and standardized tools to help them acquire new customers. Partners can access profiles of top sales performers from Best’s business partner channel to measure the potential of their sales candidates. Best is also offering product-specific courses for new salespeople and daily activity goal recommendations, work plans, compensation plans and proposal tools.

Under the 100/100 funding program, partners will be selected based upon certain criteria such as total number of sales people, monthly rate of internal lead generation and total number of new customer sales units in 2003.

Partners had the opportunity to fill out application forms at the conference. Selections will be determined in July for the first training class.

Benefits include a US$2,000 per-month subsidy for four months to cover offset start-up costs, Fast Track training and bi-weekly conference calls with other members of the group to work on team development.

In other partner news, Best announced a New Unit Growth Contest to drive sales of its newest business units, including MAS, SalesLogix, Abra, Non-Profit Solutions, Timberline and Accpac. To qualify, partners must meet $50,000 in new product revenue.

Best will recognize one partner from each product line that has the largest percentage of growth year over year in new unit product sales. Winners will be treated to a President’s Circle spot in 2005 at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas.

Best also has teamed up with vendors including Dell Computer, Citrix Online and WebEx to enable partners to leverage its buying power saving them money on key business products and services.

Also announced was an In-House Use Program, which allows partners to receive any Best product free of charge for in-house use after paying a nominal maintenance fee. It also introduced the Marketing Alliance Program, which offers co-op marketing benefits including 70 per cent co-op reimbursement, reimbursable marketing activities and training in marketing methods and principles to partners who add a marketing manager to their organization.

Best also revealed two referral programs, Cross-Product Referral Program and Customer Referral Program, to encourage lead-generation among partners and to integrate partners across product lines. The first initiative offers partners the opportunity to earn 10 per cent of the product’s list price when they identify clients or prospects that have a need for Best products they are not authorized to sell. Under the second deal, customers who pass leads to Best will be paid a referral bonus equal to five per cent of the closing price of the software sale.

Partners interested in participating in these programs can visit www.bestsoftware.com/partners/advantage for more information.

Kevin Hollis, president of Hamilton, Ont.-based Accpac solution provider Concentrix Solutions Inc., said the recent acquisition of Accpac has caused anxiety among partners. Howver, he also noted that The Sage Group and Accpac share a similar channel philosophy.

He also praised the promotion of Susan Sheridan, who used to be senior VP of marketing at Accpac, to general manager of Accpac’s business unit.

“”Under her direction there will be a very big marketing effort in Canada and the U.S.,”” said Hollis. “”She did wonders under Autodesk.”” Prior to joining Accpac in July 2000, Sheridan served as Autodesk’s marketing director and in product and channel-marketing positions.

Annette Balgord, principal of Balgord Software Solutions, an Oakville, Ont.-based Accpac premier solution provider, is also pleased that Sheridan will be heading up the Accpac division.

“”We’re extremely enthusiastic. I’ve known her for some years,”” said Balgord, admitting it was initially a bit of a surprise when it was announced that Best was acquiring Accpac. “”The whole image is helping us develop our business and it’s going to help us sell more product.””

Balgord said she will now have an accounting solution for nonprofit organizations in her company’s portfolio. Best announced at the conference that it would be launching the first solution that complies with Canadian taxation regulations called MIP Fundraising, Paradigm 5.1, which will be available next month.

In other news, company CEO Ron Verni announced 20 new product releases across small business, mid-market and small eneterprise market segments due out by the end of the summer. These include Peachtree 2005, BusinessVision 32 Version 7, Accpac Pro Series 7.3, Timberline Office 2004 and SalesLogix 6.2.

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