SAP partners seeing strong success with partner-packaged solutions initiative

SAP launched this new component in their cloud strategy this March, and have already had 450 partner solutions qualified – with between 700 and 800 more in the pipeline.

John Scola, VP, Cloud Channels & Strategy, SAP

WASHINGTON D.C. – At last year’s CompTIA ChannelCon event in Austin, SAP turned some heads by the fact that they were at the event at all, making their first-ever appearance. They do sell extensively into the space – which they term General Business and define as organizations with sales of under a billion dollars a year – historically with their SAP Business One product, and increasingly, with their cloud offerings. Last year they restructured their channel organization to better deploy resources into the SMB market, specifically to recruit new SMB partners. Their presence at ChannelCon then was to show the flag around this initiative. This year, they were back, and provided an update on their efforts, particularly around the new SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions initiative that was rolled out this spring as part of the SAP PartnerEdge Cloud Choice Program.

“The mission of my team is to drive profitability with partners in the cloud,” said John Scola, VP, Cloud Channels & Strategy, SAP, who reports to Karl Fahrbach, SVP, Global Head of Channels at SAP. “The team is geared to packaging, and helping the go-to-market strategy in this space with ready solutions. We are also focused on cloud transformation – helping on-prem partners shift into the cloud – as part of the Cloud First Choice Program, which we launched in August 2016.”

The partner-packaged solutions initiative was created to encourage the generation by partners of repeatable solution packages that a partner differentiates with their own IP, and where they collaborate closely with SAP’s direct salespeople to take it to market. While the initiative has been in place for only a little over four months, Scola said that it has been extremely successful.

“The program has generated great numbers of packages,” Scola said. “We now already have 450 qualified packages – and almost double in the queue to be qualified. That really shows this initiative’s sustainability – that we have between 700 and 800 packages in that queue to be qualified.”

Scola explained how the qualification process works.

“The partner brings it in and demoes the solution in the testing centre. If it works, it can be qualified. If it doesn’t, they kick it back to the partner for more work. The partner also needs to have a marketing and sales asset on the package, a customer video, and a sales presentation. They also need to have it on their website with a price. A lot of partners don’t want to say what the price is, but we force them to commit to a price, because that’s what the SME customers want. When they see a price, they are more likely to click it to learn more. SMEs are very transactional.

“Once the solution is qualified, we sync the partner with the inside sales rep, and they go to market with each other,” Scola continued. “Externally on, we provide the information about this to the end user, so that we can route it to the right partner. We just published 13 customer success stories around this on LinkedIn.”

Qualifications last for 24 months, after which they need to be requalified.

At ChannelCon, Scola presented a Lightning Round session, ‘Grow Margins and Sales Profitability in the Cloud,’ which featured the partner-packaged solutions initiative.

Scola indicated that while SAP recruits at ChannelCon for new partners, this recruitment is very focused.

“We do very targeted recruitment when we come to an event like this,” he said. “We are only interested in filling white spaces – whether it is in geos, lines-of-business, or industry. The partners we recruit range from systems integrators to companies that have very focused boutique practices. Just because a company is small doesn’t mean that they can’t make it within our ecosystem.”

Last year, SAP talked about their recruitment of 600 partners over 24 months in the cloud alone.

“This year, we recruited 350 new partners, both on-prem and cloud combined, filling white spaces,” he said. “Events like this are super-important for us so that companies know we are in the game, because people don’t tend to think of us as SMB.”

Scola also indicated that SAP is starting an entirely new initiative around customer lifecycle management.

“It hasn’t been publicly announced yet, but we have announced it to partners,” he said “This is something that was originally created around SAP Success Factors, and is now being rolled out across all the lines of business in a consistent approach. It will help partners drive their customer success in the cloud in this area.”