If you’ve been in the accounting business for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard about a variety of accounting partnership programs offered by software providers. These programs come with all sort of perks for your firm, under the assumption that you’ll be a brand ambassador for the accounting software you partner with.
With partnership programs, you work closely with a chosen software brand, advocating the brand to clients in exchange for perks from the software company. They act as an excellent advertisement for the accounting software and can help boost your firm’s business at the same time.
When I was at SleeterCon – now called AccountEx – last year, the floor was awash with these offers, tempting accountants with perks and promises. To be honest, once you settle on an accounting software flavor, these programs can be fantastic. Depending on what you like and what your practice needs, you’ll have a few options to pick from.
I’ve detailed some of the bigger partnership programs below, but make sure to check with your brand of choice for up-to-date details. These benefits change as the demands of the marketplace change, so what’s true today (January 2016) may not be true tomorrow.
QuickBooks is still the most popular accounting software option out there. Even if you don’t love the software, chances are your clients are going to be using it – or Excel.
The QuickBooks ProAdvisor program is designed to make you a QuickBooks fanatic. The program offers three tiers with slightly different benefit levels.
At the first, free level, you get access to QuickBooks Online Accountant. This is an online tool that provides you with a suite of tools for managing your QuickBooks Online clients. You get alerts about clients who need attention, a bunch of quick menu options to perform common tasks easily, and a discount on QuickBooks Online for your clients – pass it on or cash in on the difference.
You’ll also get support tools, continuing education opportunities for CPE credits, and a listing in QuickBooks online directory. At the next two levels, you’ll get all that plus a bit more.
For $299 per year, the Deluxe package comes with a copy of QuickBooks Accountant Desktop Plus – rolls right off the tongue. Desktop Plus gives you options to manage all sorts of additional tasks when working with clients. You can purchase the software without being a ProAdvisor, but it sports a $349 MSRP.
The final level, Premium, comes with everything you’ve just seen here, plus we’ll send you an extra food dehydrator to give to a loved one. No, just kidding. It comes with the accountant version of QuickBooks Enterprise, an accountant version of QuickBooks for Mac, and QuickBooks Point-of-Sale Multi-Store. Premium will cost you $449 per year.
With any level, you’ll also be able to become a certified advisor, giving you a nice little tagline to add to your business.
Xero program is free, a la the best things in life. Instead of being based on a fee, like QuickBooks, Xero bases its reward tiers on the number of accounts you bring with you. There are six different levels, ranging from Starter – 1-4 accounts – up to Group Platinum – over 1,000 accounts.
At all levels, you’ll get a few basics. A copy of Xero Partner Edition, a free copy of Xero for your business, an account manager, QuickBooks conversion tools, and some training and support tools. If you can bring five accounts with you, you’ll be upgraded to Bronze, which is where you start getting some kickbacks – or discounts to pass on – from the business subscriptions you sell. These start at 15% of the price and run up to 30% at the Group Platinum level.
Most businesses are likely to fall between the Silver and Gold levels – 25-99 accounts and 100-500 accounts, respectively. At these levels, you’ll get practice management software, a listing on Xero’s advisor directory, marketing materials, and some cash to throw events promoting Xero to clients.
To join, you’ll need to have a member of your team become Xero certified and host a Xero branded page on your website.
Finally, let’s talk about Sage. Sage keeps it simple with two levels, both with fees. The Standard level comes in at $497 per year, the Priority level is $597. Let’s dive into the details.
With both levels you’ll get five users on Sage Accountant edition, some training, and some practice management tools. At the Standard level, you’ll also get a 10% software discount, rising to 15% at the Priority level. Going a level further in benefits, you’ll get payroll features with no employee limit, phone support, and product upgrades.
At the Priority level, you can access Sage University and the Sage certification program – a great line to add to the business cards. You’ll also get some support benefits – like a two minute “pick up the stupid phone!” guarantee.
All of this is aimed at accounting firms working with small businesses. If you work with mid-sized businesses, there’s a separate Sage network just for you.
The bottom line
When you read through the options, it easy to settle on a favorite and then shoot for that product. It’s important to remember, however, that when you join one of these programs you’re not just joining for the perks, you joining to focus on an accounting software brand.
While you can join more than one – and bigger firms can really benefit from this – being a narrowly focused advocate has its advantages. You’ll be better suited to solve your clients’ problems, you’ll work largely in one interface, and you can consolidate all your efforts.
These are just three of the biggest programs out there. Check out Capterra’s full listing of accounting software to figure out which package and program combination is going to best serve your firm. You can also swing by the Capterra Financial Blog to get more tips and insights to help your clients out.
Header by Rachel Wille
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.