The next time your vendor or reseller sends a mail reminding you it's time to renew your software licence, subscription, or support contract, the mail could come from a third party you've never met and never will – but which has been trusted with enough info about you to make the sale.
The Register chatted with one such renewals-as-service player – Renewtrak – whose CEO Mathew Cagney told us the biz is growing like a weed because vendors know they and their channels are rubbish at securing renewals. So rubbish, in fact, they can lose 15 or 20 per cent of their customers each year.
Cagney explained that vendors, resellers, and distributors all have their own data about which customers are due to renew. They don't share it – or don't remember to share it in a timely fashion. When they do share it, the data can arrive in inconsistent formats than make it hard to ready a renewal campaign.
Even when data is clean, plenty of folks in disties and resellers don't bother chasing you for a renewal because their salespeople get a bigger payday for new sales.
This is a problem for vendors, who miss out on low-hanging fruit. Cagney argues it can also be a problem for IT pros when unpaid renewals mean software goes TITSUP* at 2:00am.
Renewtrak therefore steps in on vendors' behalf and uses data to contact customers and advise them it's time to pay up.
Those contacts appear to come from resellers, but are sent from Renewtrak's AWS-hosted platform. Resellers and distributors can tweak the pricing you are offered to include their cut.
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The aim of the game is to have you whip out a credit card and pay, thankful that you've dodged the pain of forgetting to renew. If you need to go through a more formal procurement process, Renewtrak can do that too – and contact all of those required to sign off on a purchase.
Renewtrak also knows that you dread calls from sales people, so an email nudge to renew can sometimes be a blessing. But the nudges won't spare you some upselling efforts – Cagney said the company works with its clients to offer you additional products.
Cagney told The Register he is aware that procurement scams are prevalent, so Renewtrak is careful to avoid any appearance of shadiness. Sending mail that appears to be from a customer's established reseller helps, too, as it's quickly assumed to be legit.
The outfit is six years old and currently works with VMware, HP, Lenovo, and other top-tier vendors. It operates in 40 nations, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Middle East, India and North America.
Cagney said over 20,000 resellers are already aboard, chasing $1.5 billion of sales opportunities each year. Probably rather more, soon, because an Australian venture capital firm recently backed the business to fund its further expansion.
"The whole idea is to make it zero touch for the vendor," Cagney told The Register – and of course by doing so to get you sending those vendors more cash, more often. ®
*Total Inability To Start Unrenewed Product