Sage has launched a pilot training and accreditation scheme that will result in all of its channel partners having to complete exams to remain eligible to sell its software.
The pilot scheme involves 50 selected channel partners who will be sitting exams over the next two months. The finalised scheme will be officially launched at the Sage Expo event in November.
The accreditation is divided into three parts covering sales and marketing principles, and specialist sales and product disciplines. Resellers that want to maintain the Sage Solution Centre title will have to qualify in all three areas.
"We have listened to our partners and this pilot scheme will give the selected resellers a chance to give us feedback on the exams and any areas which need improvement before its launch in November," said Colin Mould, training and accreditation manager at Sage.
"We know that we will lose some partners because of this, but customers' expectations have moved on and we need to have a certain standard in our channel."
An independent firm, Spring IT Training, is coordinating all of the exams at its various centres in the UK and will also mark the 8,000 or so exam papers.
"We are very conscious of time restraints that resellers have with the growing number of accreditation courses, but we feel this is necessary for our channel," Mould said.
He added that all premier partners will have qualified by March, but the firm is hoping to get most, if not all, accreditations completed within 12 months.
Mark Hearne, director at Sage channel partner Solutions for Accounting, supported the programme. "[The scheme] allows us to evaluate our staff more easily and will also weed out the less committed resellers and allow committed dealers to better serve the Sage community," he said.
"You do get resellers which are just box shifters over the web, but if they have to pay to get their people accredited, they will probably not bother."
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