Siebel Systems is trying to change the perception that it’s a big-name brand for big customers. It’s targeting smaller customers through an SMB channel program and partnering with regional resellers who understand the business requirements of SMBs. Quebec’s Le Groupe SCI has joined the newly launched

Siebel SMB Channel Program and will resell Siebel’s SMB business application software in Canada.

“It’s not only meant for the Bells and the Hydro Quebecs, it’s also meant for the smaller businesses,” says Luc Menard, Le Groupe SCI’s practices director for CRM and ERP.

“One of the areas where we thought Siebel was not as strong in terms of tackling the marketplace was in the SMB [space],” he says. Siebel was approaching regional markets in Canada with U.S.-based telemarketing and telesales, but language was sometimes a barrier to business. Le Groupe SCI had helped Siebel on a couple of occasions to close deals with French-speaking customers.

“They’ve now recognized the fact their growth is not going to be only through the Enterprise Version, but they’ve got to be wary of some of the smaller players that are coming up in the market, the Microsoft CRMs and so on,” he says.

The SMB channel program will offer a valid alternative to Salesforce.com for small business customers, he adds.

Siebel launched its SMB strategy in December, which includes CRM offerings for small and medium businesses, a customer-centric go-to-market model and a value-added partnering strategy.

Siebel’s decision to use the channel was based on reports that more than 50 per cent of SMBs prefer to purchase software from resellers and procure IT services from local companies rather than direct from the manufacturer. And only two per cent of small businesses in North America have implemented CRM.

“The Canadian market is one where most companies are SMBs,” says Menard. “It was an untamed market for Siebel here in Canada.”

Most small and medium customers are looking for a partner who can provide the same level of service to a small business as an enterprise – but at a price point that makes sense for them, says Peter Reeves, sales consulting director with Siebel in Toronto.

Le Groupe SCI, which had already been reselling Siebel solutions, was chosen for its track record in dealing with smaller customers; the program may be expanded to include other regional partners. “SCI is the first on that list but there could be others,” he says.

Part of that job will be educating customers on Siebel’s SMB offerings. “Unfortunately a  lot of the smaller enterprises are seeing Siebel as too expensive – it’s the big gorilla out there,” says Menard. “Most people are not aware there is a Professional Edition [for SMBs].” But he thinks the channel program will go a long way in improving communications between Siebel and potential SMB customers.

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