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As one of the few executives in the industry who has actually walked a mile in the shoes of a solution provider, Taylor Macdonald not only empathizes with the solution provider partners of Sage Software, but he also comes up with programs to help them deal with the business issues they face.

In his role as executive vice president for channel and sales operations, Macdonald has consistently rolled out innovative programs that focus on helping solution provider partners run their businesses better instead of programs that merely push products.

To that end, Sage Software continues to invest in a Partner Advantage program, a Fast Track for Consultants program and a separate Partner University program that call for specific investments from Sage that help solution provider partners run their businesses better.

The hallmark of Partner Advantage is a 100/100 program under which Sage invests $1 million to help eligible solution providers train 100 field salespeople in 100 days. Thus far, new sales recruits have sold on average 300 new units of software every year for the last three years the program has been running, said Macdonald.

But sales training doesn’t stop there because Sage also helps fund attendance at the Sage Sales Academy, where solution providers get product-specific training directly from Sage.

“It’s pretty clear at this point that companies that have people attending Sage Sales Academy are growing three times faster than other companies in our channel,” said Macdonald.

Sage this year decided to take the same approach to consultants that typically drive demand for its products. This program helps solution providers recruit new consultants into the channel, such as former human resource executives. It excludes solution providers from getting compensated if they steal consultants away from other Sage partners, so the whole idea is to expand the base of people creating opportunities for Sage channel partners, said Macdonald. Sage also complements that program with a Sage Consulting Academy that is modeled on the Sage Sales Academy.

Finally, Sage created a Sage Leadership Academy that trains management executives at solution provider companies on the best business practices for solution provider management teams.

“Solution providers wake up every day and know we’re on their side because they don’t see that same level of programs from our competitors,” said Macdonald.

Next up, Macdonald said he’s tinkering with an executive recruitment program that will help solution providers hire top-flight talent and will focus more efforts on cross-training channel partner salespeople on the multitude of Sage products.

“We know the pool to recruit partners from is shrinking, but we know how to be successful,” said Macdonald. “For example, in the last year we’ve seen a 50 percent rise in the number of partners who only sell our products.”