This offer from Infor to earn referral fees for anonymously introducing them to potential customers has many industry analysts and influencers agape. It offends their sense of independence and the “anonymous” part goes against their desire for more transparency in technology markets.
In some ways, it is an astute move by Infor. The reality is if an influencer forwards a lead it is very likely to be “live” – the customer is likely close to a purchasing decision. In contrast, sales folks harvest leads that are up and down the sales funnel.
Also, Infor could argue “independence” is a dying quality in the influencer market. I mean plenty of firms which did software evaluations in the early 90s had aligned themselves with SAP and Oracle by the end of the decade because the integration fees were far more lucrative than the evaluation fees. Debates rage every few months on the independence of analyst firms as they increasingly depend on vendor revenues while claiming to be buyer-centric. Like Billy Joel, Infor could argue they did not “start the fire”.
In other ways, the move is naive. What is to stop competitors from doing something similar and raising the stakes?
The other is an assumption that influencers can mesmerize customers into buying what they whisper in their ears. In a close call that may work, but Infor has to invest in products that can get it close. Just because Infor calls its products “world class business software” does not make them competitive in a rapidly changing market which wants to see mobile, social, cloud, predictive, sensory and other functionality and very different price points.
So here’s a novel idea – how about Infor invest in products that get influencers really excited? Or even better gets customer prospects really excited. It may find 15% to influencers a redundant move.
Update: Got this email from Terry Stickler, Senior Director, Corporate Communications at Infor “Effective today, December 24, the referral program as defined in the e-mail that you received from Infor has been terminated and all referral program initiatives are under review by the new Infor management team. Updates and a revised referral program will be provided in early January.”