SAP targets SMBs with new channel program

SAP offers wide range of incentives to drive sales of business apps to SMBs

BOSTON -- With an eye to biting out a bigger chunk of the small and mid-size business (SMB) market for business application software, SAP AG has launched a new tiered channel partner program that offers a wide range of incentives to drive sales.

The PartnerEdge Channel Partner Program was officially launched Wednesday at the Sapphire user event in Boston.

SAP defines the SMB market as companies with 2,500 or fewer employees and revenues of up to $1 billion. The company, which targets its All-in-One product at the mid-market and Business One offering at small companies, currently claims 12,000 customers worldwide.

The program will be rolled out immediately in the U.S., with Asia and Latin America scheduled for August and Europe to follow in October, said Donna Troy, senior vice president of global SMB operations at SAP. "It can be tweaked slightly to account for local market conditions but the basics remain fixed," she said in an interview at the conference.

As part of SAP's new global channel framework, the company will award resellers, ISVs (independent software vendors) and other partners points based on their performance. The points will be given not only for the volume of sales but also for the ability to satisfy customers through enhanced applications and service.

"We want to award partners who not only have strong sales but who have also invested in certified sales and technical people and can provide customer references," Troy said.

With the points, partners can move across three levels: associate, silver, and gold. The higher the level, the greater SAP's support, which includes funding and training.

"The incentives for climbing up the ladder include certain discount prices, market development funding, participation in beta tests, early access to technical and product releases and educational and consulting services, which will cost something at the associate level and be free at the gold level," Troy said.

In addition to the point system, SAP is enhancing its SMB portal "to make it more interactive and easier to use" and will provide a new channel partner collaboration network that will be accessed through the portal, Troy said. "We're providing a whole tool set to allow partners to collaborate with each other and provide access to each other's applications and selling networks."

The multilingual, online collaboration network will include an e-learning portal containing extensive documents on the All-in-One and Business One products.

At present, SAP has 1,400 partners worldwide. "It's not our goal to increase this number to 5,000," Troy said. "We want to develop partner loyalty in an industry that has high churn, and at the same time, we want to ensure customer satisfaction. We believe this program can achieve both."