Community
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 

Whither ACT! Platinum Care?

by russbc on ‎03-30-2009 10:07 AM - last edited on ‎03-18-2010 11:52 AM by (16,095 Views)

Last summer (July 2008), the North American ACT! business unit did something it had never done before - it launched an annual subscription service. Unlike annual support contracts or software upgrade assurance contracts, ACT! Platinum Care was something different. ACT! Platinum Care provides the following in its annual subscription:

 

  • Software upgrade assurance (current subscribers will get any new versions of ACT! while a subscriber)
  • Sandler Sales Training - access to a members-only broadcast center, free sales training session, etc.
  • Swiftpage email marketing - 90 days free plus other discounts
  • VoIP business telephony discounts from C3IP Communications
Since it's initial launch, other benefits have been added including:

  • A limited amount of ACT! training and ACT! training resources
  • A special offer from Sage Payment Solutions (to help your business start accepting credit cards/ACH)

I am not mentioning all of this in an effort to market this program, but rather explain it for those who do not know the details. We came out of the gate at an extremely low price point when we launched the program ($49 for ACT!, $69 for ACT! Premium). The program is still aggressivley priced ($69/$114). We have had decent success selling ACT! Platinum Care to customers.

 

All of the benefits of the program are served up via the ACT! Platinum Care portal (http://care.act.com).  While we have sold quite a few licenses of ACT! Platinum Care, we have had low usage of the benefits portal - which tells me that many subscribers are not enjoying the extended benefits of the program.

 

As we approach year two for the program, I would like to solicit your comments on ACT! Platinum Care...the good, bad and the ugly. What do you think of the program? Do you find value in this program? What suggestions do you have to improve ACT! Platinum Care?

 

-Russ Carpenter

Message Edited by tmergel on 03-18-2010 11:52 AM

Comments
by Copper Elite Contributor
on ‎03-30-2009 08:22 PM
The concept is great but the reality is people don't know how to fit one more thing into their To Do list.  How do they find time to take advantage of the Sandler training?  Why should they?  Who are these people who's blogs I can reference?  I don't think people take advantage of the other benefits because they don't see the value when compared to the time it takes to get into the site, etc.  Typically, ACT gets installed for 10 sales reps and the reps know nothing about the additional services unless we (ACT CC) specifically follow up and provide the information or train them on what this gives them.  I had my Sandler rep give a short presentation on selling and it was good but the only way we got everyone together was to call it ACT training.  Sales people need more than just the basics of selling or to hear someone else's approach.  I think Sandler is a great system and I tell my customers about it but what happens is no follow up; no encouragement regarding Platinum Care.  The biggest piece they see of value in Platinum Care is the upgrade assurance.  It makes an easier sell to say there is more than just the software upgrades but you're right...I find no one taking advantage of the benefits.  idea:  Have the ACCs give you a list to send an email out on our behalf asking for feedback on this program.  I don't want it to go away....
by Bronze Super Contributor mscott821
on ‎03-31-2009 08:28 AM

I don't think the program as it is structured today brings much real-world alue add, particularly when it comes time to renew after year 1.  For us, the clients whom have expressed interest in buying APC have consistently done so only for the Act! upgrade discounts.

 

The rub is this:  year one you can take advantage of the discount on the VoIP solution and the Swiftpage one time 25% / free time period.  As mentioned, the 1 hour of Sandler training is a one time thing and doesn't add up to much.  As for the online offering, users typically can't find the time to learn Act! or other applications on their own time, now add another online training option from the Sandler Broadcast center?  Not likely to see much usage. 

 

Year two, you are paying the same $$ and it only buys you the next Act! upgrade since the customer has used up all the 'value adds'.

by Copper Elite Contributor
on ‎03-31-2009 09:03 AM

There is no "Care" element to Platinum Care. Call it what it is - Software Maintenance. Standard practice for CRM software is maintenance @ 18-22% of list price, so APC's list price is a little high.

 

Most ACT users stay with a version every 3-4 years and then buy an upgrade. That is because UA or APC has always been too steep. The current promotions make the product very attractive and we usually recommend it.

 

I think bundling the Sandler stuff and rights to a Blog confuse the situation. Sell them seperately if you want but they don't belong with the maintenance piece.

 

It should be a goal and policy of Sage to get and keep all ACT users on the most recent version of the product. I believe doing so will result in fewer complaints, tech calls and desertions from ACT. All too often, a client will bring an issue to me that I know has been solved and they hate it when I say "Buy the upgrade". Maintenance allows business to budget an annual amount for the continuation of ACT.

by Copper Contributor jkaufman
on ‎03-31-2009 11:11 AM

In my humble opinion:

 

1) APC is a better deal for end-users than UA alone.   Most users buy it for upgrades, but many also take advantage of the Sandler Sales training.  We have worked out an option with Sandler for them to provide a discovery session and come back with recommendations in lieu of the classes and this has been well received.

 

2) The recently added ACT! Multi-Media usage/training videos that are part of the portal have been a real plus.  Keep up the good work and I suggest adding ACT! for Web to this offering.

 

3) We have yet to have any of our customers take advantage of the 3rd part vendor offering, so perhaps this could be reworked. 

 

4) I think APC helps to differentiate ACT! and is great for marketing.

 

5) We are not running in to resistance renewing our UA customers with APC, so I hope the program continues.

 

The only thing that I would like to see is ACT! taking care of  the renewals and issuing us a commission in the same manner the MMD solutions are handled. 

by Copper Super Contributor jnorcott
on ‎04-01-2009 08:42 AM

The concept here is good.  However, I think part of the problem with the added benefits of Sandler and the websites/blogs is that we all get bombarded with emails about blogs and the "fight the recession" webinars/seminars.  APC is just buried with the rest of the noise.

 

It doesn't standout and it doesn't really present a unique value other than getting the next version within 12 months since you purchased it. Most of my clients don't pass it out to the sales staff even though I encourage it.  Most sales people who are told about it or instructed to sign in feel they don't have time for it.  Sell, sell, sell is what they only want to do and they already have their own opinion of how they should sell.  Most don't have a marketing coordinator or it's a secretary who sends an email blast.

 

i know from personal experience with a Sandler Franchisee he is getting no interest in a free class on Sandler training.  in one case on a visit by him the ACT! user tried to get him to training on ACT! for free during the meeting.  That's all they are interested in.

 

Here are two suggestions:

 

Suggestion 1:

 

Call or email the main contact who is registered at the company and ask:

Are you aware you have APC?

If no, explain it and walk them thru signing on to it.

If yes find out why they do or don't use it.

Offer a free webinar by sending a postcards and emails.  Show them how to use it.

If your participation doesn't pick up then it's either the content or they are to busy for it. 

 

Suggestion 2:

 

Scrap the program and offer the following.

 

New purchases get the next version automatically. 

At their anniversary date they autmatically are renewed for $50.00 EX or $100.00 ST per user. 

 

If they let the renewal lapse then they pay upgrade pricing in the future.  Maybe bundle APC renewal based on a range of users where pricing decreases with the more users that are purchased.  Once you are on automatic with them they will usually just renew.  Sage's cash flow each year on the ACT! product line becomes more predictable.  We see this with our Sage accounting software we sell.

 

Most of my customers would probably renew at such a small price per user.  Right now it's $114.00 per year for EX and they say "Well I'll wait three years and get it for less at upgrade".  It's simple math for them.  I know it's cheaper year to year for budgeting but most are not looking at it that way.  Usually because it means also hiring an ACC or IT person at an hourly fee to upgrade it on their network.

 

Just my thoughts on it.

 

Joe Norcott, ACC, APT

Business Technologies f New England, Inc.

http://www.btne.com/salesandmarketingblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by russbc
on ‎04-01-2009 10:39 AM

Thanks to all who have so quickly jumped in with their thoughts on ACT! Platinum Care. Both the critiques and suggestions are illuminating. We are definitely listening. Keep them coming!

 

-Russ Carpenter

by Tuned Listener ldwarner
on ‎04-01-2009 12:02 PM
When I was an end user of ACT! the company had 47 licenses, 40% were remote databases and we maintained 3 databases on the server.  When APC came out we viewed it as a low cost way to get our future upgrades.  We had our own sales training solution.  We had a marketing department to do our web marketing.  All considered nothing was of any value to us except the upgrades.  The other items included have some small value for the end user to try them but in the long run there is no ongoing savings in any of them except the upgrades.  I would suggest ACT! call it software maintenance.
by corylmiller
on ‎04-03-2009 08:58 AM

A quick point of clarification...VoIP AddOn customers that are part of Platinum Care will receive the discounted service for the duration of their Platinum Care Membership.  As long as you stay with Platinum Care, you will continue to get the 25% discount.

 

This is great feedback, thanks to everyone for their input. 

Labels