Partner programmes are definitely a deal for payroll and HR software specialist Softline Pastel Payroll. Channel manager Laurica Kok says the company’s channel, which has a national footprint of partners, has shown “exponential growth over the past four years”.
“Our channel programmes and structures are set up in such a way that a win-win situation applies for us as the vendor and for our channel partners,” she says.

The company’s channel partners receive up to 45% discount on sales of software and services, and a rebate of up to 35% on their customers’ payroll and HR software annual renewals.

“It is important that we keep our customer retention rates high, and this means having the channel infrastructure to ensure our partners care for existing customers and retain them,” adds Kok. “We find that renewal rates are higher when customers are linked to a channel partner who is on the spot and in regular contact.”

In these circumstances, Softline Pastel Payroll, part of Softline and the Sage Group, nurtures growth by ensuring channel partners have sustainable channel programmes that take into account what each partner brings to the programme with discounts and recurring rebates.
“Typically we incentivise partners for the all-important renewal of a customer, and by creating differentiation with encouragement for sales initiatives and services. To sustain loyalty we need to do things differently, as markets change so our focus is always on adding value in terms of the loyalty portion of our partner programme.
“The value proposition in the channel is critical and consists of tax and payroll legislative and statutory updates as well as additional features and functionality. We keep channel partners informed of these changes and stage no cost channel events at which partners can learn about the changes, new software features and add-on modules that create sales opportunities for them.”

According to Kok, the channel is seen as an extension of the business designed to help the company reach its targets.
“It is a give and take relationship. We offer access to an online portal where channel partners can view and make use of all electronic marketing, advertising and sales templates, including the latest price lists and sales offerings. They can also view the latest tax, legislative and software changes as well as all upcoming events such as Channel Partner Information Sessions, or the dates and venues of the national road show.
“This online portal also allows partners to view their sales ranking in their local area and their ranking nationally. They can view all their linked customers’ contact details and incident history as well as any outstanding invoices they might have.
“Traditionally, it was seen that the channel was in competition with the vendor and vice versa. However, at Softline Pastel Payroll we have a mutually supportive relationship. We find that the current competition scenario exists between the channel partners and excludes the vendor totally,” Kok concludes.