“It doesn’t make a difference if you’re in San Francisco or if you’re in New York,” West observes.
What does matter is the depth of your vertical industry know-how. As a result, NetSuite’s partner recruitment efforts these days focus on finding partners with knowledge of specific industry segments. Instead of seeking out partners familiar with manufacturing, for example, they look for companies with experience serving wineries.
“When we can approach a customer and say, ‘I know your business, and I know it because I implemented this week for three or four competitors that look just like you,’ that’s a really compelling message,” West says.
The “microvertical” program NetSuite introduced last autumn is designed to help partners combine their own intellectual property with NetSuite’s ERP platform to address the needs of customers in a wide range of niche markets. “We would recruit unlimitedly right around partners that wanted to productize IP and then target a specialized set of customers,” West says.
NetSuite is recruiting aggressively for outsourced providers of financial management, CRM, and e-commerce services at present as well. The vendor currently has 70 such partners worldwide enrolled in its Business Process Outsourcing Program, which has seen new customer growth increase 61% in the last year. Though most of those partners are primarily accounting firms, they also provide IT services.
“Almost every one of our BPO partners also lives in our solution provider program, which is our VAR-like program,” West says, adding that there’s nothing stopping companies that specialize in IT from joining up. “It’s absolutely open to anyone,” he says.
That said, launching a NetSuite practice is no small task. “We’ve found that it’s very hard for us to take someone who knows servers, infrastructure, security, managed services, and teach them ERP,” West says. “You kind of have to know ERP or have a plan to fill the ERP competency.”
Getting into BPO is even harder, he adds. “I probably can’t take my technologist who knows [Microsoft] 365 and have them suddenly start doing general ledger accounts receivable and accounts payable.”
Even so, West believes the return on building a NetSuite practice justifies the cost. “We still feel sky’s the limit on opportunity,” he says.