It’s been quite sometime since I worked as an Autodesk reseller but I am still getting emails and phone calls from old clients asking me about this crazy “Customer Engagement” program. They seem to understand that this program has very little to do with measuring customer satisfaction and they are wondering about its real motive.

Here’s the low down. You need 3-D software: Revit, Civil3D, Inventor, etc… You call a reseller and ask for a quote. The reseller will say something along the lines of, “I will get you that quote but before I do, I am going to send you an email. It’s basically just asking if we are working together, please click the yes button in the email.”

Within a few minutes or days you get an email that states:

Dear So and So,

Our priority at Autodesk is to not only provide you with the best design products available, but to also provide you with the best customer service experience. As your Value Added Partner has probably informed you, we are contacting you to ensure you’re receiving excellence in service from your authorized Autodesk reseller.

Your feedback is important to us, so please take a moment to click on the link below to confirm that you are working with Reseller, Inc

If you click YES, you are enabling that reseller to give you a better price on the software. You are also enabling them to collect a much higher profit margin. If you click NO, the price you will get on that same piece of software will be dramatically higher and the poor reseller will not be making much money on it at all. Let’s say you ignore the email. An Autodesk Customer Engagement Rep will call you and ask you the same question that’s in the email. Let’s say you ignore their phone calls. After a period of days, I think 14 but I could be wrong, your answer is recorded as NO. After three months (I think, this may have changed) the registration expires and you are fair game once again.

What does this all mean? As an Autodesk reseller prior to this program, I used to spend days, weeks, sometimes months selling 3D software to a company. It might begin with a cold call and then move to an in person meeting followed by a needs assessment meeting followed by a customized demonstration, etc… When the time finally came to submit the proposal, the prospect might decide at that point to shop around OR more often than not, another reseller might come in and drop the price of the software. Talk about unfair! You do all this work and then your prospect tells you they can get the software for a substantially lower price. What do you do? You naturally drop your price. But this doesn’t mean Autodesk is dropping their price– this means the reseller is dropping THEIR price and losing profit. By putting this program together, Autodesk was attempting to make sure that the first reseller into an account is protected against other resellers as well as prospects trying to get the cheapest price.

So what does this mean to you? Make sure you have a good relationship with a reseller. Make sure you like them and make sure you TRUST them. Make sure they give you good tech support. And then when you need software GO TO THEM FOR THE QUOTE! This way you both win. You get a cheap price and the reseller can make more money. And I will tell you, when the reseller is making money, they will treat you like a KING or QUEEN!

What if you don’t have a relationship with a reseller? Call around to other firms and see who they recommend. Give a call to some of these resellers and tell them you are interested in AutoCAD LT. If a reseller treats you right when you are purchasing just LT, you can be pretty sure they are a reputable company. Then once you choose who you want to work with, call them up and tell them you really want 3D…. and then click YES on that email.

And if you are wondering why your reseller won’t tell you any of this… it’s a secret! If they utter one word about it they get “embargoed.” What this means is they aren’t allowed to register anyone for 1 week or 1 month or whatever timeframe Autodesk deems as punishment. So don’t let on you know about this!

6 Responses

  1. This is price fixing and it’s illegal, isn’t it? I am really shocked– I didn’t think a business could do this sort of thing.

  2. Thank you so much Donna! After reading this I was able to protect myself from getting ripped off. Money is tight and your advice really helped me.

  3. Wow, and as a past employee of various resellers, I thought I had the inside scoop…thanks Donna! I now remember getting at least one of those emails and subsequent phone calls from an Autodesk rep, but don’t recall responding to either. Oops LOL!

  4. This is excellent information and all completely true. I personally believe that the Autodesk program described here is unjust and underhanded and believe that Autodesk needs to abolish it. I’m sure they can figure out a more transparent and honest way of protecting the relationships between the resellers and their clients.

  5. Hi John! Thanks for commenting. I agree with you completely! I too worked as an Autodesk Reseller and this program kept me up at night! I hated lying to my customers and prospects… and lie you must or else you will be embargoed by Autodesk. I think the reasoning behind the program was two fold— they wanted to protect the resellers and try to end the predatorial tactics that some resellers were using to gain customers — but there are other ways to end those games. I feel the real reason they enacted this program was for them to see over our shoulders and get a closeup view of our pipelines. At any rate, I am thankful that I am no longer a part of this program.

    I am happy you are getting the word out on your blog and if you need any testimonials regarding the program, let me know, I am glad to speak out about it.

  6. I will soon be starting up a website http://www.acepricefixing.com
    I currently work for a large reseller of Autodesk products. The truth is even worse than what you see here. The price discount, to the reseller, is anywhere from 2-3K dollars.
    A copy of AutoCad Revit may list for around $7300 dollars with a normal cost to the reseller of around $6950 dollars. An ACE’d deal puts their cost price to around $4700 dollars. The reseller who has aced the deal is the only one given this unfair price advantage. It is then, common practice, to quote the product for about $200 less than what you know your competitor has to pay for it (because they are not the ACE reseller). The only way a competitor can win the deal is to be willing to lose money. Some resellers will do this, just to keep the business.
    This practice takes any competitive pricing out of the picture. If Autodesk is willing to sell that Revit product to the reseller for $4700, then it should be across the board. Companies are paying way more for this software then they need to. Yes, the ACE program saves them a few hundred dollars, but in the background it really costs then $2000 more than it needs to. An ACE reseller would never pass that savings on to the customer. It is an “unspoken” rule, to keep the price high and inflated.
    Working this way, keeps the price of the software inflated and makes more money for both the reseller and the manufacturer.
    Think about how much of our tax dollars are being “stolen” by price fixing. How many of our local and provincial/state governments spending on autodesk in a year??

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