If you use Microsoft Dynamics GP then you should be a member of GPUG. (www.gpug.com) GPUG stands for GP user group, and is a run by GP users for GP users, providing all the things users are asking for.
In a world where customers are tired of being sold to, and do not trust fancy demonstrations and brochures - peer to peer groups are the place hang out. People trust like minded and want to hear form people that face the same challenges and experiences as you. That makes a world of sense.
Lets say you are planning a family holiday to Fiji:
in 1995: I would have seen a travel agent, read a fancy brochure containing pictures of clear water, people swimming and colorful fish. I would have asked a few of my close friends if they had been to Fiji - and based on perhaps 1 recommendation made a decision.
in 2011: I skip the travel Agent. The first thing I do is read the reviews of what other like minded people though of their visit to Fiji. The reviews are online and there are hundreds and thousands of reviews to peruse. If you are taking small children you want a know what people with small children though of a particular resort, or activity - so you read those reviews. If you want a quiet romantic getaway then you read reviews form people taking a quiet romantic getaway.
I guess my point is that people trust other people who have similar needs and challenges. GPUG is just perfect for place to meet such people. The GPUG summit event in Las Vegas a few weeks ago was perhaps the best GP conference I have attended (and I have been to a few). This event was all about the customer and what they needed. As end users run the organisation they get to drive the content and it was all about learning this year. I was invited to run a number of sessions about SmartList Builder, Extender and Using Excel as a data entry tool - and for each we took a very strong training approach to help improve the way customers use GP.
A good feature of this event is if you wanted to avoid 'being sold to', you could - but at the same time if you were in the market to speak with some of the ISV's selling addon products - then they were all congregated in one place. The ISV'v also had time to speak with you at length and truly help to determine whether their solutions would fit your business need. There is nothing more important than a face to face discussion to build confidence that you as a customer are making the right purchasing decision.
I encourage all customers to get involved with your local GPUG chapters, contribute to and learn from other businesses that do what you do. GPUG provides great networking and collaboration events, training opportunities, online discussions and forums and much more. One of my favorite things about GPUG is the 'share my code' initiative which allows customers to share code, smartlists, reports and extender objects that they have build. Simply brilliant and something only a customer driven group would come up with (I will discuss this further in coming posts). I also encourage GP partners to get their customers involved - as the stronger the GP community gets the more prospects will be attracted to Dynamics GP.
I had one partner comment that they were nervous that their customer would meet another partner and may switch! To that I say get your relationship right, look after you customers properly and losing them is no longer an issue. If you are scared for your customer to mix and meet others - then there are much more fundamental issues at hand that need addressing.