Kick-Starting a Virtuous Cycle in Field Sales
At SAP Field Kick-Off Meeting, or FKOM, SAP Mentor adds value to SAP field sales planning
This is the seventh article in the 2012 informational series called “Meet the SAP Mentors.” SAP Mentors are a super-smart, engaged global cohort of nearly 110 experts in all things SAP – customers, partners, employees, bloggers, consultants, business people and technical wizards – nominated by peers in the SAP Community Network and selected by SAP. Every day, SAP Mentors demonstrate their personal and professional commitment to leadership by helping SAP customers and practitioners solve the business and technical challenges that come with achieving better business results via SAP-based solutions. As a byproduct, the SAP Mentor Initiative is enriching the culture of SAP with a more open and collaborative dialog between SAP decision-makers and stakeholders. A shared commitment to dialog, collaboration and customer success helps to make the SAP ecosystem a predictable source of competitive advantage to the world’s leading organizations.
January 16, 2012. Three thousand pumped up SAP field sales professionals cheer enthusiastically at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Center in Singapore.
“90 well-choreographed seconds” – John Appleby (L.) of Bluefin Solutions on stage with Vishal Sikka (R.), SAP chief
technology officer, during the January 2012 Field Sales Kick-Off Meeting (FKOM) Asia-Pacific Japan (APJ),
Marine Bay Sands Expo & Convention Center, Singapore.
SAP Mentor and partner John Appleby of SAP consultancy Bluefin Solutions stands before them at the SAP Asia Pacific Japan (APJ) Field Sales Kick-Off Meeting, or FKOM. Appleby has just 90 well-choreographed seconds in which to communicate his company’s partnership with SAP. Appleby’s dramatic presentation is just one of many: he’s a small, but integral, part of a major presentation by Vishal Sikka, chief technology officer of SAP and member of the Executive Board.
Appleby was the first ever partner and SAP Mentor invited to present at FKOM. His exemplary efforts to build business and technology relationships in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia caught the attention of SAP, as did Bluefin Solutions’ substantial growth in Southeast Asia.
Kick starting a revolution
FKOM is one of the most dynamic events on the SAP calendar, and invitations are highly coveted. At FKOM—held each year in North America, Asia Pacific Japan, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa—the SAP Executive Board and SAP executives roll out compelling presentations that enable SAP partners to access a year’s worth of insight into SAP’s corporate strategy and revolutionary technology. Also at FKOM, the SAP field sales force determines how to achieve its annual sales targets.
SAP partners are a diverse group ranging from volume and value-added resellers to independent software vendors, SAP services partners and extended business partners. One of SAP’s many successful business partners is Bluefin Solutions, an SAP consultancy based in London, United Kingdom. The largest independent systems integrator in the U.K., Bluefin Solutions employs 200 SAP consultants and has offices in Chicago, U.S.A.; Cape Town, South Africa; London and Liverpool, U.K.; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Appleby, a Bluefin Solutions senior executive and since 2009 an SAP Mentor, has deep experience in consulting, sales and marketing, with a special focus on all things SAP HANA, such as solutions for mobility, industry verticals and lines of business.
It’s telling that Appleby participated in this closed-door session where sales teams strategize about achieving annual sales goals: SAP’s invitation makes clear the business value of SAP Mentors to the SAP field sales ecosystem.
Relationships happen on the ground among field sales professionals. So that’s where Appleby seeks traction in Southeast Asia. His daily routine involves keeping in touch with 20 to 30 members of SAP’s account team as well as SAP customers. Feedback from his partner ecosystem to the SAP sales ecosystem is thus fluid and dynamic.
“Customers appreciate being inspired and look for us to create a solution for which they have a need, and which [in a virtuous cycle] can occasionally result in a co-selling opportunity for Bluefin Solutions and SAP,” he says. “Also, the management team at SAP values it when I relay information from customers around pricing, strategy and product evolution.”
Appleby’s strong track record as a partner and as an SAP Mentor provides important insight into how SAP Mentors can influence SAP’s accounts and the field sales force.
SAP sales leadership endorses SAP Mentors
“There’s a natural connection between the partner and sales ecosystem that grows all the time,” says Appleby. “We need to do everything we can to help partners and SAP Mentors engage more with accounts and field sales teams, but only where the field sales force and customers can benefit from real insight around products and solutions.”
Robert Enslin is SAP’s president of global customer operations and a member of the SAP Managing Board. According to Enslin, “Our SAP Mentors play a critical role in the sales process by helping customers make a more educated buying decision and serving as fairly objective advocates for greater business value.”
Enslin believes that SAP’s immense ecosystem not only helps SAP and its customers solve problems—but that it also enables problems be solved better and faster than ever before. “I believe SAP has the strongest sales and services team in the industry,” Enslin adds. “However, that doesn’t negate the need for our customers to learn and rely on the complementary expertise of our partners and SAP Mentor community whose counsel and expertise allows our customers to be better educated, insightful and visionary about their IT needs, leading to better buying decisions.”
Upping it to the next level
The tremendous value that an SAP Mentor such as John Appleby brings to the SAP ecosystem in Southeast Asia begs the question of how the work of bridging accounts, field sales and customers can spread region-wide and around the world.
“Serb Jodha, our head of consulting in Southeast Asia, epitomizes how we’re actively empowering employees to collaborate with customers,” says Appleby. “Bluefin Solutions leads by example in the region by instilling [proactive] behaviors that make us a better partner and collaborator.
“There’s huge opportunity and enthusiasm in Southeast Asia and beyond,” Appleby adds. “That also means there’s a gap that partners and SAP Mentors can help to address, so that customers can move from creating transactional systems to systems in areas such as analytics and mobility that offer more advanced business value.”
Other Articles in “Meet the SAP Mentors” Series