Most high tech companies consider indirect sales practices after exhausting all avenues in their direct sales strategies. But with the advent of the recession, companies have had to re-evaluate their priorities and stretch themselves outside their comfort zone or at the very least take a fresh look at their partner management programs. Having a well crafted indirect sales strategy provides a way to generate additional revenue and increase market share. Forrester Research recently interviewed leading technology vendors about their channel strategy. One major finding was that companies now have a high level of complexity in their incentive programs, which causes both partners and vendors alike to invest a lot of time and resources in doing business together. Many of them are also updating their sales initiatives with social marketing methods and developing online partner communities like Microsoft’s Partner Network to adapt to this age of web2.0 business.
Seems like business software provider SAP has the same memo and is looking to recruit new Extended Business Member partners to its Extended Business program. Conrad Mandala, vice-president of SME for SAP, said the company is in the process of transitioning away from a once primarily direct sales model to an indirect and multi-channel-driven one. “In Q4, 94 per cent of our overall sales (in the SME) will go through indirect sales,” Mandala said. “We’re helping partners get more enabled and prepared so they can be our primary route to market in 2010.”
SAP created Extended Business program primarily to aggressively target the lower-end of the market space. The program members work closely with re-sellers to facilitate the delivery of SAP’s software solutions by providing access to SAP systems, resources, training programs and certification tools. Armed with the technical know-how and practical implementation resources, the local re-sellers will be better able to position SAP’s solutions in their marketplace. It also helps the company get to market with the product that best suits customers’ needs. In this way SAP hopes to extend its market reach and find new revenue opportunities.
Currently in Canada there are four VARs (Value added re-sellers) in SAP’s Extended Business program. And the company plans on increasing the number with a focus in the Atlantic Canada region. Michael Pearson, president of Toronto-based Contax, a SAP channel partner and consulting company says his business has been greatly improved with the program.” We were recruited into the channel program by SAP about a year ago to focus on mid-market customers,” Pearson said. “EBMs help us extend our market presence by finding opportunities in specific regional or vertical areas that we probably wouldn’t have been able to cover on our own. The program allows us to leverage both our and the EBM’s expertise to further expand our (market) presence.”