For many SAP partners, the SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are an easy way to “get a foot in the door” when approaching new customers or selling to existing ones. Because these packages contain preconfigured software and predefined services, cost is low and implementation is quick. There’s no big, up-front investment; customers can start small to address their immediate business needs and expand functionality as they go. But before partners are able to offer one of these packages on the market, they have to go through the SAP qualification process.
The traditional qualification process involves multiple steps. From an initial information session on the newest rapid deployment package, to a one-on-one focus session with an SAP expert, to the actual qualification (in which partners “pitch” their idea to SAP), and finally to the package’s publication on SAP EcoHub, partners must go through more than 15 different checkpoints before they can market their offering as SAP-qualified.
Increasing efficiency without lowering standards
There’s a reason for the lengthy process: It ensures that partners have a viable business plan, value proposition, and sales pipeline in place. These factors are not only crucial for partner success, they also affect the success of customers that later implement the package.
Still, SAP Partner Service Delivery (PSD) and SAP Solution Center, the two organizations within SAP Ecosystem & Channels that are primarily responsible for partner qualification, saw room for improvement in this process. “With more than 480 partner qualifications conducted in 2012, we were looking to increase efficiency without lowering standards,” says Serge Hoffmann, global service portfolio lead for applications.
“We came up with the idea of doing live qualifications at SAPPHIRE NOW, the Field Kick-Off Meetings, and other SAP events held around the world,” explains Hoffmann, one of the creators of the project, along with Tine Vandenbreeden and Andrea Togno, from the SAP Solution Center in EMEA, and Sten Frellesvig, from the DACH region.
What’s the benefit for partners?
With hundreds of partners congregating at these events, qualification experts at SAP are able to see numerous partner “pitches” in a short span of time and approve partners for qualification right on the spot. And it generates interest in the program amongst partners who aren’t yet qualified to sell SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions.
What’s the benefit for partners? Besides the simple fact that the process is much quicker, partners also benefit from the public nature of the live qualifications. This gives them the chance to demonstrate their competency in front of a wider audience, including customers.
The first live qualifications were conducted in a pilot project at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 in Orlando and proved to be a success. The second time the team tried out the idea, at SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid, they were able to qualify five times as many offerings as they had just a few months before in Orlando. In total, 57 offerings for SAP Rapid Deployment solutions proposed by 40 partners were qualified by representatives from the Solution Center, with support from PSD, at the event in EMEA.
Based on these successes, SAP has decided to make live qualification a standard feature at all major SAP events in 2013, and it has already integrated feedback from partners who participated in the pilot. Live qualifications at upcoming events will now include support for the use of videos, live demos, and apps during the presentations.
Tips from the heads of PSD and Solution Center
Like in the traditional qualification process, when partners do a live qualification they must show how their solution is compelling for the market, demonstrate customer interest, and explain how they’ll generate demand. In essence, they must “pitch” their product to the SAP experts. To find out what factors make for a good pitch, we asked Denis McGauran, global head of PSD at SAP, and Steffen Burger, global head of Solution Centers at SAP, for advice. Here are their tips:
- think through the end-to-end sales process
- know and explain how you’ll differentiate your solution in the market
- address specialization
- understand that today’s customer has become more like a consumer
- sell a business story, not a road map
SAP’s support for partners extends well beyond the qualification process. As Hoffmann is eager to point out, “The next step for partners is engaging with SAP Marketing and SAP Inside Sales to participate in lead generation activities like campaigns and the Blitz Clubs. And PSD continues to support them with many different programs and tools.”