Intuit would not use accountants and bookkeepers to sell its cloud accounting software but instead sell to businesses directly, senior executives have said. Intuit’s strategy ran counter to upcoming rival Xero, which at times has claimed that up to 60 percent of accounting software sales had been generated by accounting partners.
“We don’t see accountants as a sales channel. We see them as a partner and a customer,” said Brad Paterson, Intuit’s new Asia Pacific managing director.
“Every person in the ecosystem is as important to us. We will have equal support and energy to small businesses as accountants and bookkeepers, as well as developers building for the API,” Paterson said. (An API is a programming interface that lets a program send and receive data with other programs.)
QuickBooks Online, Intuit’s cloud program, was built around the small business, said Terry Hicks, senior vice president of small business financial solutions. “It’s less about double entry accounting than how do I know how my business is performing? Do I know when I can pay the bills?”
Intuit refused to reveal how many accountants in Australia and New Zealand had signed up to its ProAdvisor program. The company claimed 300,000 accountants had joined the program globally.
Intuit said it wasn’t fazed at the building momentum of Xero, which claimed 200 to 300 paying customers were signing up every business day.
“Intuit has been in a lot of competitively intense markets for its entire existence. There’s a company in Redmond, US (ed: Microsoft is based there) that has made multiple attempts to compete with Quicken in the US. At least two times we fought them out of the market with a better product and better relationships our customers,” Hicks said.
“When we launched QuickBooks we were the last entry to the market. Because we took a very customer-centric approach, in six months we became the market leader. We’re pretty confident that the right things will come to bear here,” Hicks said.
The biggest opportunity was not taking market share from rivals, however. “Excel is the biggest competitor in the market,” Paterson said. “They are the people who we know we can help the most.”
Intuit had calculated that across markets in developed countries, half of small businesses were using either Excel or paper and pencil to manage their accounts, Hicks said. In developing markets the figure jumped to 70 percent.
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