Sage Helps Partners with Health Insurance, RecruitmentBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2007-07-02 Email Print
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The software vendor is helping its channel partners tackle some of their most daunting challenges.
Sage Software is helping its channel partners with two of their biggest challengesemployee recruitment and health insurance.
The Atlanta-based maker of business management and accounting applications launched a program that gives partners access to a Web-based health insurance broker that searches for coverage for their employees.
In addition, the company partnered with two recruiting firms that are working with Sage's channel partners to find qualified candidates for sales and consulting positions. The firms are Kinetix, of Burlingame, Calif., and Frank J. Rich & Associates, of Poway, Calif.
"We as a large company can do things with scale that our partners can't do easily, so why wouldn't we go and do those," said Taylor Macdonald, Sage's executive vice president for sales and channel operations.
The initiatives aim to tackle two major challenges facing employers today, especially those in the small and midsize business space, which covers the brunt of channel companies. Health insurance is expensive for employers and employees alike, and often small businesses forgo insurance plans altogether.
Employee recruitment, meanwhile, is a major source of complaints from channel employers, who say they typically cannot find skilled candidates to fill job vacancies.
On the insurance front, Sage partnered with BenefitProtect LLC, a Web-based insurance broker. Sage partners can take advantage of the program by logging on to the broker's Web portal and entering information about their companies, such as the number of employees. BenefitProtect takes the information and searches for carriers with plans that match the employer's needs, said Macdonald.
By giving partners access to a broker that operates in all 50 states, Macdonald said, Sage is removing the legwork of identifying carriers, contacting and asking for bids.
"We've literally been working on this offering for the last three years," he said.
In some cases, Macdonald said, partners not only don't offer medical insurance to their employees but they don't have it for themselves. Business owners often get coverage through their spouses' insurance plans, he said.
Neither Sage nor its partners have to pay BenefitProtect for the Web-based service. The broker collects its commission from the carriers, said Macdonald.
The insurance offering is part of a larger program, "Saving with Sage," which has various components such as getting discounts on services such as cell phone use and Federal Express when using an America Express card.
Mark Dresser, owner of Dresser & Associates, a Sage partner in Scarborough, Maine, said he will likely take advantage of the health insurance program. As Dresser expands into other states, figuring out which plans are available in each state becomes a daunting task, which the BenefitProtect program takes care of, Dresser said.
The company already has branches in Florida and Georgia. Staffing these out-of-state locations is also a challenge, said Dresser. That is why he took advantage of Sage's recruitment program to fill a sales position in Tampa, Fla., he said.
The process took less than four weeks and cost him $6,500 in recruiting, he said. Had he searched for the candidate himself, it would have taken twice as long. And if he had hired a headhunter without going through the Sage program, he would have paid the recruiter up to 30 percent of the employee's first year salary.
Typically, said Macdonald, those recruiters' fees are at least $15,000, and often, upward of $20,000.
Dresser is one of about a dozen partners that took advantage of the recruiting program while it was still in beta, said Macdonald. Twelve more partners have started using it as the program goes live officially, he added.
The recruiting firms use job profiles that are prepared based on feedback from partners to match job seekers with open positions. Candidates take a test that helps determine if they fit the profile the partners are looking for.
In addition to the health care and recruiting initiatives, Sage has in the last two years launched a host of innovative programs to help partners. Those include a recently launched sales and marketing coaching program.
Macdonald said the coaching program is akin to having a personal trainer whose help is tailored to an individual's fitness needs, as opposed to going to a gym to work out.
Dresser's company also is taking advantage of the coaching program. His new employee in Tampa, he said, will be working with a coach.
Dresser, who has eight full-time employees and works with an additional seven non-employee consultants, said Sage's initiatives go a long way to help his business succeed.
"Any kind of support in running our businesses is certainly going to be helpful," he said. "Sage is doing things that are going to help us grow."