SAP is preparing to launch a Trusted Advisor program to supplement its newly-recruited channel.
The German software vendor is looking to employ hundreds of consultants who can advise clients on its products. The advisor program is seen by the vendor as complementary to the 24 Business One resellers and 10 All-in-One partners it has recruited during the past six months.
SMB director for SAP, Tim Cavill, said plans for the new advisor program, due to launch after July, were still being finalised.
It was likely to be attractive to potential partners that were not prepared to go through certification and other processes expected of resellers, he said.
Trusted advisors could, for example, be accountants, Cavill said.
They would receive information on Business One, which they would pass on to clients and, hopefully, win business.
“There are myriads of consulting organisations that deal with a handful of SMEs, who will be able to advise on the selection of programs,” he said.
The Trusted Advisor program is just part of SAP’s channel strategy, put in place in November 2003 to recruit resellers for its relatively new SMB business products.
Business One was launched last October and comes out of SAP’s acquisition of Israeli company, Top Manage, in 2002.
It sits beneath its existing My SAP All-in-One (software) but above MYOB and Quicken.
Cavill said the channel push was designed to establish SAP as a market leader in the SMB space, with a focus on growing the scope of its existing channel rather than expanding partner numbers.
“We have gone through the first phase of our partner relations [recruitment]," Cavill said. "The next phase is enablement.”
SAP will assist its channel partners with collaborative sales and marketing programs including lead generation, sales and presales mentoring, and quarterly workshops.
Cavill said 50 Business One customers had signed up in recent months through its channel. This was helping SAP achieve growth of 17 per cent quarter-on-quarter, and 24 per cent for the year. Staff numbers are also up 20 to 350, with 10 more about to be recruited.
“It’s going gangbusters in our market," Cavill said. "In less than six months, we have established a top notch network of new channel partners and now we have a program of skilling them up.”
SAP marketing director for A/NZ, Len Augustine, said its market successes were highlighted at its recent Sapphire channel and customer gathering in Queensland.
About 2000 people turned up, with customers and resellers learning about SAP products and strategy.
“Resellers got to meet our executives and they feel comfortable about our strategy,” Augustine said.