SAP looks to deepen partner-customer engagements

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SAP looks to deepen partner-customer engagements

SAP is making significant changes to how the software giant works with its solution provider partners, taking steps to simplify SAP-partner engagements and rewarding partners who establish deeper relationships with customers.

The moves, announced at this week’s SAP Global Partner Summit, include a new go-to-market and revenue-share plan for partners, a new dashboard for tracking partner interactions with SAP and customers, and new solution test and demonstration capabilities.

The channel initiatives follow recent steps taken by Chief Partner Officer Karl Fahrbach (pictured) to elicit feedback on SAP-partner relations, using surveys and the company’s global Partner Advisory Council, and to work more closely with partners through the creation of a Partner Success Organization, the new partner dashboard and new partner success key performance indicators.

“The feedback that we got, in terms of where we can still improve, was simplicity – how do we provide a simpler way of engaging with our partners,” Fahrbach said in an interview with CRN, acknowledging that SAP hasn’t always been the easiest technology company for partners to work with.

“To go from good to great when it comes to the partner experience and making our partners really successful,” Fahrbach said of the company’s channel goals.

The new partner efforts come as SAP is ramping up channel sales of the recently announced Rise with SAP collection of subscription-priced software and services designed to help businesses and organizations with cloud migration and digital transformation initiatives. Rise with SAP, unveiled in January, is expected to be a major focus of next week’s SAP Sapphire Now 2021 virtual conference.

More than 100 customers purchased Rise with SAP in the first quarter with about 65 percent of those engagements involving partners, Fahrbach said.

Topping the list of partner initiatives is the new PartnerEdge Cloud Choice, flex model, a revenue sharing and go-to-market plan that Fahrbach said is designed to reward partners for going beyond selling and implementing SAP software to cover the entire customer lifecycle, including helping customers get the most value out of SAP technology, expanding customer adoption and use of SAP cloud products, and encouraging contract renewals.

The new flex model replaces the older Cloud Choice, profit option, which launched in 2016 as a way for partners to drive sales of SAP cloud software. Under that option partners identified prospective customers and handled implementation and support services – but left the sales contract to SAP.

The new option goes beyond paying partners a percentage of the initial sale to provide a share of a contract’s total value, including incentives for continued customer engagement, and increased commissions for subscription renewals. SAP is also improving partner cash flow by paying upfront commissions for sales activities. All this creates recurring revenue streams for solution providers, Fahrbach said.

The Flex model “is basically moving away from pure reselling or pure implementation services,” Fahrbach said. “We’re looking at the customer and the role of the partners to make those customers successful and then we reward the partners for those activities. We want them to stay engaged and add value throughout the customer lifecycle and make our customers successful.”

The new option also allows partners more opportunities to work with enterprise customers, rather than be limited to mid-size businesses and organizations, the channel chief said. The new option also makes provisions for multiple partners to participate in – and be rewarded for – customer deals.

The new SAP for Me dashboard will provide partners with “a single point of access where partners can find out everything about their engagement with SAP,” Fahrbach said. Through the dashboard solution providers can manage communications with SAP and view information about their SAP relationship including certifications status and business plans. It also includes materials that partners can use to facilitate sales deals.

By the end of 2021 the SAP for Me dashboards will also offer information about customer cloud projects and contract status and renewals.

To improve SAP engagement with partners the company is creating the Partner Success Organization, an overhaul of the Partner Experience Organization launched two years ago, with people devoted to working with partners as they work with customers. The organization, for example, will help partners execute customer engagement strategies and provide KPIs to guide partner development of solutions around SAP products.

The organization, which is separate from SAP business managers who work with partners to execute sales deals, also will take feedback from partners about working with SAP.

SAP is also expanding the number of live demo offerings in the SAP Partner Demo Environment, shared option, the pre-configured software demonstration environment that launched in June 2020. And by the third quarter SAP plans to launch a new Partner Finder tool that will create greater exposure for partners by allowing prospective customers to search for solution providers with specific business or industry expertise.

SAP is also stepping up its efforts around the SAP Store where partners can market their software and solutions for extending SAP systems. Advantco, Be One Solutions, Cuculus and Flowity are among the partners recently adding their offerings to the store.

“This will enable us to grow our reach to the SAP ecosystem, deliver better results to our customers, and accelerate supply chain digitalization, Flowity co-founder and CEO Jean-Baptiste Clouard said in a statement of his company’s forecast and planning solution, which integrates with SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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