Partner Certification

Idea suggested by Stephen Youngs FCCA 6 years ago

I think it's about time Clearbooks reviewed their approach to partner certification. When I first became a certified partner, I took a day of my time, bought an expensive train ticket from Bristol, travelled over to London, took the test, got 100%, got my certificate.

Then some bright spark thought let's make more money out of our partners, because of course it is a huge benefit to them in being certified, so we'll make them pay for training they don't need before letting them take the test!

So, I'm no longer a certified partner. That's despite using Clearbooks myself and supporting my clients with it since January 2011.

Outside London pretty much no-one has ever heard of Clearbooks, so accounting partners would seem to me a great way to get the word out and promote the Clearbooks brand. From our own practice marketing point of view however partners do much better by promoting Quickbooks (on TV all the time) or Xero (well known). Clearbooks is a harder sell and if it wasn't for partners being able to get a discount I'm not sure why we would promote it at all. Only Clearbooks want to charge me £300 to be a certified partner. For this I would get:

The fee includes a training session at the Clear Books office, followed by an online test. If you pass, you’ll receive a certificate qualifying you as a Clear Books Certified Partner, and you will get all these benefits:

  • 1 x blog coverage on your practice once you have qualified
  • Guest blog opportunities
  • Clear Books Certified Partner email signature badge
  • Clear Books Certified Partner website badge
  • Clear Books Certified Partner certificate
  • Clear Books Certified Partner window sticker
  • Clear Books Certified Partner badge attached to your profile on the Clear Books accounting partner directory
  • Matches between small business and clients as and when a request is made

Blogs nobody reads have little value, and I can publish my own blog for nothing any time I want anyway and link to it from my Clearbooks profile. The rest is just badges and stuff that have zero cost to Clearbooks and would be given for free anywhere else.

Partner certification is primarily a marketing strategy for Clearbooks, surely? Why should I pay for that? Being a certified partner helps me sell Clearbooks to my clients, although price is probably the biggest selling point, but if they're happy to pay the extra for Xero and my Xero certification is free, then why would I be a Clearbooks reseller? It makes no sense.

5 Replies

Yep - pretty much sums up my feelings.

A long-long time ago one of the anticipated by-products of certification was that if CB identified the need for user training more than XX miles from London, they'd be able to use a certified partner in the area, splitting the fee and also giving the partner a chance to acquire a new client. The powers that be ran this for a time then gave up (or rather she left).

It was also anticipated (and promised) that CB would actively promote certified partners to users, ie do more than just putting a yellow tick next to their name in the directory. Not sure that this has happened much, if at all, but then I've moved about a lot in the past year.

I found Xero's certification process an overkill and dropped it. Again, it was a way to make them money but also, in true Xero style, a way to trawl up as many accountants to the club as possible making it far more difficult for them to pull clients out when it was realised that Xero doesn't suit every business.

You are right though, at the end of the day, any certification is only of benefit to the accounting partner if it has a positive effect on their marketing, either from them or via CB. Many providers (Xero & CB included) used to think that the more their partners were trained, the more the software would be properly marketed to punters, in other words, the last thing they wanted was a useless accountant promoting and supporting their software.

They then had/have the cheek to charge too much for this and, given my experience with many accounting professionals, someone who couldn't make the best use of accounting software for their clients 10 years ago, is still in the same boat with Cloud software, ie it's not worked.

Good point Paul about training partners being a good way to ensure the right advice and support is being given to their clients, and also ensuring they know the right messages to use about the product when promoting it to clients. As an aside, I also think Clearbooks marketing is still too focussed on getting people into the Cloud (not that difficult), when it also these days needs to focus on the choice of cloud software product - that needs an emphasis on features, functionality, reliability, and value for money.

How dare you retire? What the heck?! You've given more support to Clearbooks users on here (and the old, better, user community before CB typically had a stab at reinventing the wheel and developing their own....) than all the rest of us put together!

That's kind of you, thanks Stephen!

After 46 years of accounts and tax returns, I think I've done my bit (suffered enough), plus I'm now in Devon = retirement heaven!


Evening Stephen and Paul,

Thanks for your posts and I 100% take on board your comments. Since taking over leadership of the Sales & Account Management team in January, I have been reviewing a variety of different elements that affect all of our partners. This is very much a work in progress but I hope in the coming months you will see positive changes that recognise our commitment to our partners, both new and existing.

As soon as I have finalised our next tranche of updates and ideas, I will be sure to share them with you and the rest of our partners. However in the meantime, if you would like to contribute further to the ideas and plans that help mould our relationships with our partners, I would welcome the opportunity to have a phone call or a coffee with you some time.

Many Thanks

Chris Morford

Thanks Chris

Good luck!

Happy to chat, whilst I'm still in the business, or make you a coffee next time you're in Devon!

Cheers Paul

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