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SAP wants to influence the influencers

SAP will pay influencers to recommend Business One, All-in-One, Business ByDesign and Business Objects software to customers and route sales leads to partners.

Seeking to bolster its push into small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), SAP today said it will pay advisors who recommend its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to paying customers.

Accountants or consultants who recommend SAP's Business One, All-in-One or hosted Business ByDesign ERP offerings or Business Objects analytics software to a customer will get a one-time 5% cut of the net license sale if they register a lead that closes, according to Patricia Hume, senior vice president of SAP's global indirect channel unit.

Influencers must register on the SAP Partner Portal and from there can register leads which are then tracked by the company's CRM system till closing, Hume said.

SAP leads in ERP market share and sales into large companies but is relatively new to the channel-influenced SMB sector, having launched its PartnerEdge program five years ago. In these accounts -- SAP categorizes SMEs as companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue -- the company faces not only enterprise rival Oracle, but Microsoft, Sage Software and other competitors.

Hume said the program aims to bulk up SMB business for existing partners -- leads will be referred to channel partners -- and to potentially recruit new partners by converting influencers to fill gaps in geographical coverage or vertical application areas.

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"Existing partners can play and can gain an additional 5% of net value if they join this program," Hume said.

Tim Singleton, CEO of Achieve IT Solutions, a Commack, N.Y.-based Business One partner, is aboard.

Anything that can be done to attract new customers helps, Singleton said. Also, he is encouraging hardware and networking partners he works with to register for the program.

His company concentrates on Business One now but plans to add Business ByDesign later this year.

Steve Torres, vice president of business development for Axon Global, said his company, which is "100% focused on All-in-One and MySAP," plans to participate.

"Partners like us would be influencers and this program may lead to more opportunities for us from a services perspective. Outside classic systems integrators, I would say accountants, security officers and others might be other candidates for the program," Torres said.

Axon acts as a reseller in Europe but in the U.S. is a pure systems integrator

SAP's position is that there is plenty of green-field opportunity for existing partners as well as newcomers to its channel. Last year 34% of the company's SMB revenue went through the channel, and the goal is to raise that percentage, Hume said.

Business One typically targets companies with up to 100 employees. The new Business ByDesign focuses on firms with 100 to 500 employees while All-In-One, sometimes called A1, fits companies with up to 2,500 employees.

"We have a hybrid go-to-market. For A1, which is for the upper segment of [SMBs], we sell both direct and indirect due to coverage. If there's no partner then we have to sell it direct," Hume said.

Business One and All-in-One partners in North America like the fact that the SAP software is not overdistributed, whereas Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) value-added resellers (VARs) often complain about competing with other MBS VARs in their own backyards, leading to margin erosion.

"If you overdistribute you commoditize the product," Hume said. "I don't want 42 partners in New York City competing in the retail vertical. That would be dumb. It would cause channel conflict and it upsets our customers. And, at the end of the day, it causes a price war."

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