Infusion Software is hoping to steal a march on its rivals by launching a channel program around its CRM software-as-a-service offering,  while, the vendor claims, most of its competitors are still trying to work out how to involve the channel in their own offerings.

This week the vendor unveiled its Infusion Certified Consultant, or ICC, program, aimed at helping VARs reach what the company calls “true small businesses.”   Adam Ross, vice president of sales and business development at Infusion, said the program will allow VARs to sell, implement and service companies with fewer than 100 employees. “While there are products out there—ACT, GoldMine,, for example—none of these address the true small business market.  There is a big white space out there, and this is where we will be aiming our VARs,” he told Channel Insider.

Although the company currently operates a mainly direct strategy, Ross said he hopes in time this will change. “By the end of this year we want to be driving 10 to 12 percent of our overall business through the channel,” he said.  He added that from a services point of view, the firm is looking to offload between a quarter and half of its services business to the channel.  “We’ve built the ICC program for scalability and we only have seven direct sales people, so the ultimate goal is to have as much business through the channel as possible.”  He said channel conflict would be minimized by strict rules of engagement and a revenue compensation model where both VARs and direct sales people will get compensation on certain deals.

VARs must apply to be in the ICC program and will go through five days of training on the Infusion product and sales process, Ross said.  Those who fit the criteria and become certified will then be given some customers to get them started.  He added that because the company sits in the SAAS arena, VARs can build a recurring revenue stream and a SAAS practice with the help of Infusion. 

“The channel is evolving to cope with SAAS; it does not fit into the traditional partner 1.0 model,” Ross said.  “We are looking for the partner 2.0 that is the enabler and more involved in the business processes within their end users.”