CARY, N.C. – SAS is implementing plans to put hundreds of additional sales people on streets around the world in 40 countries, and the sales target is smaller businesses who want to implement business intelligence strategies.

However, SAS doesn’t plan to increase headcount dramatically in order to implement its new plan. Instead, SAS is expanding its global alliances and channels program to augment its own direct sales force of 700 people. The international strategy is important to SAS management’s growth plans in its 31st year of existence since 55 percent of SAS revenues last year came from foreign markets.

The project is being led by Miles Mahoney, who joined SAS at the end of 2005 as vice president of global alliances and channels for SAS.

“This is about an order of magnitude of putting more feet on the street,” Mahoney explained. “The average reseller has three to five sales people.”

SAS is adding some people to its sales force in order to meet growing demand, Mahoney added. But the reseller initiative is where SAS is focusing its efforts to compete against other BI firms that also see opportunity in working with smaller companies.

A successful channel sales program could be a major boost for SAS, which recorded a record $1.9 billion in revenues in 2006. To give the campaign a better chance of succeeding, Mahoney, who has worked at SAS rivals Borland and Business Objects, said he has been given plenty of time to organize and launch it.

“That’s why I came here,” he said. “I was given time to create the organization. There has been an opportunity to really get this off the ground right and not necessarily be tied to a quarter like I would at a publicly traded software company. That sort of runway gave us time to take a thoughtful and phased approach.”

SAS launched its first reseller program last summer in the U.S., with Mahoney hiring scores of people to put a new organization in place. His goal for the entire reseller program is a big one, too.

“We hope to drive 15 percent of new license revenue through the channel program by the end of 2008,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of the enormous global effort to ensure we have the right infrastructure, right strategy and right commitment to see this truly become a successful component of our long-term growth.”

In addition to sales support, SAS is providing the channel partners with a suite of software packages designed and priced to appeal to smaller businesses.

“The number one challenge in the market is channel conflict. Number two is bundles and pricing,” Mahoney explained. “I believe we have the breadth of offerings that will bring SMB [small to medium-size businesses] into BI. Now we have eliminated channel conflict and we are delivering nine bundles leveraged across areas that no other vendors are able to deliver to the market.”

SAS’ reseller program in the U.S. is already on a fast track. The program had 46 resellers onboard by the end of the year, and that count increased to 62 by the end of the first quarter this year. SAS is aggressively recruiting resellers who already have a “foothold in the BI marketplace,” Mahoney explained. “We believe they understand the market segments and the challenges they face.”

To support the international effort, SAS is designating channel partner managers and providing pre-sales support as well as additional marketing and communication resources.

SAS also is granting exclusivity to its channel partners to work with companies that generate less than $500 million in revenue. And Mahoney said that if the program works as expected SAS will be selling into companies and markets it simply didn’t target before.

“The channel strategy will enable us to cover and penetrate the SMB market, an area we traditionally have not focused on,” Mahoney said. “This is the fastest growing segment of the BI marketplace. Seeding these accounts will provide SAS with long-term growth.”