Reckon, the Australian distributor of Quicken accounting software, has reported a significant increase in partner sales, which has had a substantial impact on keeping the company's financial position in good stead.
CEO Greg Wilkinson gave a nod to his company's successful channel strategy while announcing revenue for the six months to June 30 of $12.9 million, up 36 per cent on the same period last year.
In the last 12 months, the company has increased its Professional Partners Network by 1,000. It now has almost 5,000 accountants and consultants recommending its software and is looking to make that 6,000 in the near future.
Wilkinson said the company attracted these partners by offering them membership to a partner program, in conjunction with Microsoft, which gave the accountants an integrated bundle of the Quickbooks accounting product with Windows and Office XP as part of the membership fee. The integrated software suite was developed to allow accountants to manipulate data on their clients' machines from remote locations.
Even more encouraging, Wilkinson said, is that these accountants are not just becoming partners to get their hands on the free software. In the last 12 months, sales through the Professional Partner channel have increased by 160 per cent. "It's one thing to have a few thousand partners sign up, it's another when they are actually out there recommending and selling the software," he said.
Wilkinson said there are also encouraging signs for the traditional retail and reseller channels, which may not be growing sales at 160 per cent but are still making a substantial contribution. At retailer OfficeWorks for example, sales of Quicken products are up 46 per cent on last year. "It's not phenomenal but it's still healthy," he said. "It's still quite a tough retail environment out there."
A recent study by channel research company Inform showed that the last few months have seen the first upturn in channel sales of finance software for several years. Phil Burnum, an Inform research manager, said most of the action in the finance sector came from the likes of MYOB and Quicken selling upgrades.
Wilkinson also said that Quicken now has 450 accredited trainers in Australia. While he sees this as extremely positive, he plans to cap accredited trainers at 500. "These guys make a living out of Quicken training," he said. "If we over-saturate the market, they are likely to lose interest."