SAP is a multinational software company headquartered in Germany. It specializes in software to manage customer relations and business operations. We caught up with Edyta Malesza Malatrat, Marketing Director for Central and Eastern Europe, to find out more about SAP’s approach to partner marketing.
Edyta, tell us a bit about SAP’s partner marketing work.
We have both global and regional teams. Partner marketing and demand generation with and through partners sits in-region, and the global team takes responsibility for ‘to partner’ marketing. We work closely with the global teams that supply centralized programs and content. We have limited SAP and partner marketing resource, but one of my priorities is improving local budgets for partner enablement and content localization.
What types of joint activities do you support with partners?
We do a lot of joint activities with partners to enable them to generate leads. We’ve been encouraging our partners to move to a more digital model for some years, and COVID has forced that transition. We want to move to more, better orchestrated multichannel activities, rather than a dependence on face-to-face events. The global marketing teams provide tactics, programs and activities, and we cascade these into our countries, adding local activities. We encourage country teams to leverage more from global to improve efficiency and get more out of our budgets. We also encourage co-investment from partners.
How do you measure demand generation activities with partners?
Primarily through sales performance, but we are also using marketing development funds to help partners become more sophisticated in their reporting capabilities. SAP is rigorous in reporting: we track leads, opportunities, close ratios and the overall lead funnel. We’re also becoming more savvy about marketing lead attribution. We are helping partners and country teams to become more analytical, to understand when leads are purely marketing driven or marketing generated. Partners log into our system to report activities and investments as a first step in qualifying and managing leads.
How do you select partners for strategic high-visibility lead generation?
We have a global model at SAP, with content produced centrally, and programs cascaded down to countries. My teams work with global and local partners, and categorize partners by horizontal and vertical industry solution and specializations. With major partners, marketing is part of the collaborative planning process. Our partner enablement program and portal, Partner Edge, includes the partner business planning process. Our solution structure is quite sophisticated with some verticals having ‘sub-vertical’ segments. Some partners focus on specific solutions and specific vertical segments.
How do you use case studies and thought leadership as part of your co-marketing activities with partners?
The global team produces videos and pieces on thought leadership, primarily around vertical solutions and partnerships. These are designed to address specific applications or industry needs. We tend to offer thought leadership content across vertical solutions and on digital transformation. We also consult heavily with partners in-region to help them to better understand sales and marketing best practices.
How do you provide sales and marketing enablement deliverables to partners?
Partner Edge includes a huge amount of content. A lot of it is produced by the global team, and we select what to offer to partners. Activities are also created in-country to meet specific local needs or adapted for in-country execution. We focus on enablement and scaling across the region, to make the best use of time and resources. We offer centralized ‘agency’ services via Partner Edge to help manage leads and educate partners on marketing best practices. Some of our services and deliverables are available free to partners and this central resource supports our drive to scale. Enablement means we can offer better value to partners, helping them become more successful in their vendor relationships and improve their business profitability. We particularly support lead nurture and ‘cultivation’ of prospects. We are currently trying to evaluate the effectiveness of our enablement services to partners.
What alignment challenges have you faced when implementing demand generation activities with partners?
SAP’s Partner Business Development Managers are responsible for partner relationships in-country. They also manage SAP resources to meet business requirements. This prevents any alignment issues and problems from developing. We also work with selected partners in primary markets to develop joint messaging and try to bring together partners who have a common issue by solution. Many of our partners work across our Dev Ops platforms for transformational applications and extensions to our solutions.