While I was looking at the Sage Summit 2016 agenda the other day, I noticed all day on Monday, July 25 was dedicated to Sage partners. Sure enough, we received an e-mail shortly after from Sage announcing they’ve listened to partners and brought back a partner-only day.
Why is this such good news to Sage partners? That can be answered with a brief history of Sage Summit’s format.
There was a time when there were two separate events for Sage partners and Sage customers. Then Sage realized that partners and their customers may actually want to attend a conference at the same time. And thus, Sage Summit was born.
However, there also was a time that Sage Summit was a longer event. When I first went to Sage Summit, Partner Days went from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning, and Customer Days went from Tuesday afternoon through Friday.
This schedule let partners concentrate on all their sessions, allowing them to spend as much time as they needed with their customers for the rest of the event. However, it also made for a very long week, both for the partners and the Sage folks who were hosting the event.
After that, Sage decided it was better to have a more streamlined Sage Summit so the event didn’t have people needing a vacation after a week at a convention. This meant partners and customers would have sessions on the same days throughout the conference.
While this was indeed an improvement from the marathon Sage Summit, it also made it harder on partners to fit in everything on their agendas.
“But Amanda, if partners have sessions at the same time as customers, doesn’t that give them the same down time as their customers?”
I’m glad you asked that. In a way, yes. If all a partner does is show up for their own sessions, then yes, then they’ll have time to spend with their customers during down time. But part of the reason we go to Sage Summit is to get a chance to guide our customers through the event and help them have a more productive conference.
So let me ask a few questions:
What if a partner wants to attend sessions with their customers at Sage Summit? We like to do that so we can personalize a session for a customer by comparing the generic content of a session with their unique business.
What if a partner wants to schedule time to walk the trade show floor with their customers? It’s a great opportunity to act as a tour guide through the various Sage products and add-ons. Granted, there are a few times during Sage Summit when the trade show is open when there are no sessions going on, but that will usually mean missing meals or breaks for both the partner and customer.
What if a partner just wants to schedule time to sit down for coffee with a customer during Summit? Sitting down over a cup of Joe provides for a better conversation than when the two parties are separated by phones. Over the past few years, we’re averaging about 35 customers attending Sage Summit. Let’s say those 35 customers come from 20 different companies. If we sat down with each of those customer companies individually for 30 minutes, it would take 10 hours, or one full day at Sage Summit.
Partner day needs to have sessions
I’ve often said in the past that Sage can’t possibly know what their partners and customers want from Sage Summit unless people speak up. That’s why I have no problem saying in public that the return of a partner-focused day at Sage Summit is fantastic, but I’d like to make a recommendation for Sage Summit 2017.
Looking at the agenda for Monday, July 25, the Partner Only Day features a keynote address from Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, two more lectures, and a workshop session. That’s followed by a celebration dinner for partners.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these items on the agenda. In fact, they all look relevant and interesting. My only complaint* is that there are no breakout sessions planned for partners on Monday. Granted, the workshop sessions could be counted as breakout sessions, but they’re focused on one topic.
* OK, I know I’m complaining about something that hasn’t happened yet. Bear with me here …
What if Sage dedicated Monday morning to partner keynotes and lectures, and dedicated Monday afternoon to partner-only breakout sessions? Then, don’t schedule any partner sessions during another part of Sage Summit, whether that’s Tuesday or Wednesday morning or afternoon, or even all day Thursday. That way, partners can still get all their sessions in and still have time to attend the conference alongside their customers.
After several years of tweaking the schedule, Sage nearly has found the sweet spot for they’re looking for serving their partners and customers at Sage Summit. But by all means, keep giving your feedback and suggestions to Sage. Trust me: They listen.
By the way: Early Bird Registration for Sage Summit 2016 ends April 30. Better register soon!