For part one of this interview with the current Senior VP and General Manager of the Sage Mid-Market Solutions Group, click here:
Dan Wilzoch was appointed Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sage Mid-Market CRM Solutions in June 2011. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan and finding out more about his long tenure and interesting experiences with Sage, what his current role means, where he sees CRM, in general, and the Sage CRM solutions, in specific, going in the future and more.
The interview continues below:
Peter: So, what are the responsibilities with the new role?
Dan: My current responsibilities are to develop and execute a business strategy for Mid-Market CRM. That includes Sales, Marketing, Product Management, R&D, Learning Services, User Experience, Product Marketing, Customer Support, Professional Services and, with assistance from North America Finance, HR and Legal. Other than that, I’m not too busy.
Dan: Important elements of my role, and, in my opinion, of any General Manager, are to understand and to relate to partners and customers, to understand the challenges and opportunities in the marketplace and to apply our resources intelligently to produce products and services that customers want to buy. Our intent is to make our customers’ business life easier.
That can only be done if we understand what customers do with our software, what business needs it solves and what value they can get out of our products and services. Some of that knowledge comes directly from customers but we also rely very heavily on our business partners who are out there doing good work every day to address customer requirements.
Peter: Well said. One thing that sometimes confuses me is the reporting structure at Sage. Can you clarify how it all works?
Dan: In North America, our CEO, Pascal Houillon, is building our structure to align with new customer business models, buying behavior and where the market is going. Consequently, he has streamlined some of our internal structures so that Sage is better equipped to see and respond to customer requirements. More work is still to be done but at the moment, we have a Small Business Division, led by Connie Certusi, and a mid-market division where we are recruiting for an executive leader. Mid-Market GM’s will report to that executive once they are selected. In the meantime, I report directly to Pascal.
In North America, I have responsibility for SalesLogix and Sage CRM (SageCRM). Larry Ritter, my counterpart here in Scottsdale, has responsibility for ACT!. You may know Lorcan Malone who is the General Manager for Sage CRM who lives and works in Dublin. Lorcan is responsible for the development and delivery of the Sage CRM product worldwide.
Essentially I am Lorcan’s customer in North America and his team builds Sage CRM for the market needs in our region. He has similar customers in different geographies – France, Germany, UK, Australia, etc. – who are responsible for Sage CRM sales in their respective regions.
Peter: You make it all sound so simple to understand. Can you explain a bit more about the different CRM products and your mandate?
Dan: Sage has a number of products that are sold worldwide – Accpac, SalesLogix, Sage CRM, ACT!, X3, etc. For each of those, there is a product delivery team … the factory if you will. The factory for SalesLogix and ACT! is in Scottsdale, Arizona [USA]. The factory for Accpac is in Richmond, British Columbia [Canada], the factory for Sage CRM is in Dublin [Ireland]. There are parts of our organization in multiple locations so it can be confusing where to go for answers.
For me, I run the SalesLogix factory for worldwide delivery and I’m responsible for sales in North America and I have a healthy interest in worldwide sales. For Sage CRM, Lorcan runs the factory in Dublin and I’m responsible for revenue in North America. So if I need a favor from my friends in Dublin, I ring up the factory manager and maybe get what I need. Thanks Lorcan!
Peter: Thank you for clearing that all up – I appreciate it. Your group is in charge of three products – Saleslogix, Sage CRM and ACT!. What does the future hold for each of these?
Dan: Larry Ritter is handling ACT! and I know that he has great plans for that product line. For the mid-market CRM products [SalesLogix and Sage CRM], we have a full slate of improvements and technologies that we are very excited about. My Super Session [at Sage Summit 2011] will cover the key focus areas so be sure to be in the audience for that one. [Editor's note: due to poor planning on my part, this interview did not get published prior to Sage Summit 2011 as initially intended.]
I can tell you that as a former support guy, product quality and stability form the basis for everything I do. We have some fantastic innovation which we’re very proud of but … if it doesn’t make someone’s business life easier, it’s not going out the door. We always have to balance our resources against multiple priorities so we can’t have all the cool things we want, but we can have some of them.
Peter: I can imagine that it must be difficult to make those choices when everyone is clamoring for something different. On a related note, why does Sage have three different CRM solutions? Is it all about customer choice and different demands?
Dan: Flexibility and choice have always been important to us and this does play a role in what products we have in market. One size definitely does not fit all and as the small and medium-size market leader, we address lots of different customer types and lots of different customer requirements.
Also, in general, customers do tend to grow – not just because of our software but we do play a part – and when they do, we want to have solutions upstream that they can move to should the need arise.
That is the end of the interview conducted to-date. Dan and I have some additional questions on the table discussing additonal CRM topics from a broader perspective and how the future of the Sage CRM solutions portfolio fits in. We will hopefully be able to finish the interview when time permits for both parties.
Thanks to Dan for graciously offering his time to conduct the interview. I hope you all enjoyed reading this.
Please email me or comment below if you would like to see more interviews of this nature of Sage management and I’ll do what I can.