Sunil Pandit on how Sidetrade works with consulting firms

21 August 2020 Consultancy.uk

Sunil Pandit is the Head of Partners and Alliances of Sidetrade, a software provider that helps companies improve their financial management. Consultancy.uk sat down with Pandit to explore how Sidetrade can help consulting firms advance their finance offerings AND how the vendor partners with consultancies.

To start off with, what does Sidetrade do?
Sidetrade is a SaaS company founded in 2000 in Paris, with six offices across Europe and 250 staff. The firm specialises in two business areas: enabling businesses to improve their revenue, by reducing customer churn, and better up-sell and cross-sell.

The second area is helping businesses collect their cash (accounts receivable), reduce days sales outstanding, and reduce bad debt. Sidetrade does this thanks to its software platforms: Augmented Revenue, and Augmented Cash. Both platforms use artificial intelligence, big data, predictive analytics, and automation to boost productivity, efficiency, and ultimately revenue and cash.

How does Sidetrade’s software benefit a business?
Sidetrade’s platform with features like robotic process automation and our AI assistant Aimie helps give customers a productivity and efficiency boost. For CFOs, it means visibility in real time of aging balance, and predictive analytics around receivables, which feeds into working capital forecasting, and reducing DSO.

For managers, it means having a better handle on the workloads of their teams and setting appropriate cash collection targets. For cash collectors, it means large volumes of transactional work is automated, freeing up their time for more complex and value-added work. Cash collection teams also get AI-generated dunning strategies that are proven to better collect cash.

Sunil Pandit, Head of Partners and Alliances of Sidetrade

For the customer, it means a more interactive relationship when it comes to paying leveraging digital letters. Better communication with its supplier is reducing disputes, and accelerating resolution. A good payment experience means a happier customer.

Who does Sidetrade partner with?
Sidetrade partners with software vendors, system integrators, and consulting firms. In the consultancy space, we look to partner with ‘Big 4’ type consultancies, tier 2 consultancies, boutique consultancies, and specialists in the fields of financial transformation and working capital. Generally, the customer focus is medium to large businesses.

Right now, we’ve informal partner agreements with some of the Big Four, plus formal partners across the UK and Netherlands in the tier 2 and specialist market. We expect to announce formal partnerships with more consultancies this year.

How will the consultancy partnerships landscape change in light of covid-19?
Going forward, I think CFOs will expect consultancies to be relevant and up to speed with the economic and business impacts of Covid-19, and expect more in terms of innovative solutions and faster results from their investments. Covid-19 has highlighted a weakness in how receivables teams respond to work remotely, and the dash for cash payments versus the rush to conserve cash within a business. This will become more urgent as we head into a recession.

Consultancies should be looking to partner with tech vendors who will provide a resilient product, a supportive implementation process, and the ability to deliver fast results for the customer.

What do you and your consultancy partners hear from CFOs in terms of priorities right now? 
I’m hearing a lot around the theme of grip and control. CFOs want a really good grip on their cash and cash flow situation, and control to ensure they get paid and are able to cover their own payment obligations. During this crisis, no one wants to be the victim of late payment.

There’s more talk about digital transformation as a priority, there’s a sense of urgency now around the need for technology to digitalise financial processes to future-proof the business and collect cash. Their teams have struggled with suddenly having to work from home, without the hardware, software, cybersecurity, and means of communication to do the job. That has to change. They also need help with their customer relationships, things like payment plans that give them visibility and bring in cash, without losing the customer. Cash is King has never been truer than it is during this crisis.

How does Sidetrade develop its relationship with consultancies?
In terms of developing our relationships with partners, we look for consultancies that are focused on financial improvement and transformation. They tend to have a good working capital practice and they also understand the benefits of automation and technology specifically for accounts receivables. We have an initial call and explain our key differentiators, namely our data assets, digital collaboration capability and position in the market place, we also give a high-level overview of the platform and its key functional capabilities.

If they see the potential, we move to a more detailed technical and functional session, finally agreeing a partnership based on several models available.

“Our software helps consulting firms enhance their digital offerings aimed at CFOs and the finance function.”

We have different levesl of engagement. That might be simply wanting to sell our platform, or also include implementing it, or adding advisory services or a managed service to the offering. Sidetrade provides the software, and supports its new partners with the first few deployments through an enablement programme. Bit by bit, we hand over more control to the partner as they become more experienced, to the point they are able to do a full implementation, with us in the background as needed.

Once a formal relationship is agreed, we announce it the market. It helps to put the partnership and offering on the map. We also develop go-to-market campaigns, which can include digital content, sponsorship, roundtables, conference speaking, and of course webinars. We’ve recently hosted CFO webinars and breakfast briefings with KPMG and PwC to name a few.

What’s in it for the consultancy?
Partnering with Sidetrade means working with a leading SaaS in the AI for account receivable. We’re a listed business that has a solid financial structure and excellent revenue, and is focused on R&D investment in our products, and has a very experienced professional services team to work with on customer implementations. We’re providing something unique to CFOs, that will deliver productivity, efficiency, and better cash collection.

We also highly value customer success, with a dedicated team who welcome feedback on usage, maintain the customer relationship, and work with customers to find ways to keep meeting their usage needs and user experience.

About Sunil Pandit

Pandit has been working in enterprise sales for about 20 years and originally joined Sidetrade from a competitor in 2012, as one of the firm’s first UK sales managers. Following a stint at Talend, a Sidetrade customer, he re-joined the company in July 2019 as Partner and Alliances Manager. He is responsible for building Sidetrade’s ecosystem of partners across independent software vendors, system integrators, and consulting practices.


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