Earlier this summer, SYSPRO, a global provider of industry-built ERP software, launched its new channel partner program – PartnerUp — in the United States. The program represents the company’s commitment to working closely with a network of partners who share the same vision for simplifying success and providing an environment conducive to partners growth and profitability.
The U.S. launch of PartnerUP is part of SYSPRO’s global drive to grow its footprint through a qualitative and focused expansion in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. With the development of technology and innovation, SYSPRO’s global growth strategy is focused on expanding a network of valued channel partners who will deliver professional, efficient service to their customers.
Dawna Olsen, chief marketing officer at SYSPRO USA, met with CMR to talk more about the new partner program.
CMR – Congratulations on the launch of PartnerUp early this year. Can you tell us what prompted SYSPRO to develop the program?
Dawna Olsen — We’ve had a very long-term focus on the channel as a critical aspect of our company’s formal growth initiative, which is why we decided to put a major resource investment into building a unified, global program.
One of the things that we’re focused on is moving or increasing our market share in the upper mid-market and enterprise customers on a global basis. To do that, we had to achieve greater global consistency in the program by building the right infrastructure, processes and tool sets to support channel on a worldwide basis.
CMR – Does the new program represent a significant change to how you had been working with partners previously?
Dawna Olsen — I would call it more of a renewed focus on infrastructure, resource dedication and investment really. The program is much more structured than what we’ve had in the past. The way we work with channel hasn’t completely flipped. It’s just that we’re putting a lot more consistency around it and a greater investment.
CMR – Where were the investments made?
Dawna Olsen – They were made across the board in terms of resources with headcount, and infrastructure in terms of technology and processes. Bringing on additional resources was very important — hiring the right talent in terms of our partner account managers so that they can work closely with our partners from a consultative sales approach and to really help train them.
One of the tools we invested in is a marketing automation solution called FLOW by TIE Kinetix. It’s designed to enable us to deliver co-branded material making it as easy as possible for partners to both have their own brand but take advantage of our content.
It supports a wide range of activities and content ranging from campaign rollout, to social message sharing, to web content syndication. Because things are changing so rapidly, especially in the B2B technology space, helping our partners to promote current messages with digital marketing technology is critical.
CMR – You also rolled out a new partner portal and a wide range of training materials.
Dawna Olsen – Yes, we invested in an entirely new partner portal to take full advantage of all the content we have to offer, as well our training materials.
We have a sophisticated infrastructure with our cloud-enabled SYSPRO learning channel. It offers hundreds of courses with certification for every function. But one of the biggest things that we’re emphasizing is how to teach our channel how to approach things from an industry standpoint rather than just having product education.
We feel like that’s especially critical because partners need to be true experts in their target markets. That’s the expectation of more and more customers. So, in addition to product information, we’re providing sales enablement training, marketing training, all with an industry focus.
CMR – What sort of feedback are you getting from the partner?
Dawna Olsen — We’ve received very good feedback on our approach to enabling more consultative solution selling and the sales enablement toolkits that we’re offering. It’s really helping to educate them from a sales perspective too in different approaches that can be taken.
Our partners are also excited about having a solution like FLOW that gives them easy access to all of the marketing programs and content in specific verticals. It’s very difficult to come up with content for every industry and every persona, so they’re excited about these materials are delivered to them, already co-branded by a fully-automated system.
CMR – Is that enthusiasm translating into partner engagement?
Dawna Olsen — Yes, we’ve had great success in terms of bringing the existing partner community on to the program. Without a doubt, one of our biggest challenges was around change management — moving a channel that we have worked with for decades, literally, into a new more structured program.
But the response by our partner network has been extraordinary. We’ve got probably a good 70% to 80% of the existing channel enrolled in the new program.
CMR – That’s certainly an impressive lever of participation. Do you think partners are more eager to get involved in marketing programs overall?
Dawna Olsen – Yes, I think that’s true. We really are looking at how we help our customers digitize their business and future-proof their business. As more partners realize how important this is for their own business growth, I do believe they’re putting a lot more time and effort into increasing their marketing effectiveness from a digital standpoint.
But it’s still very difficult. If you look at the type of competition that exists in a B2B technology space and the number of new technologies that are being launched every single day, there’s a lack of talent in that area and that extends to the channel community.
So, part of our role is to be strategic advisers and really help our partners best understand digital marketing and really provide the infrastructure and resources to make it easier for them to find success.
CMR – Having 70% of your partner base participating in your program is indeed something to crow about. What are some of the other metrics you’re monitoring to measure success?
Dawna Olsen — We’re looking closely at the success of our partners and their own business growth with specific metrics such as win-loss ratios on leads delivered from marketing. One of the things that is unique to the way that we work with our partners is that we actually produce leads, work them all the way through from marketing to our sales development team all the way to our partner account managers.
We also look at the leads generated by the channel — both their volume and success associated with them. Of course, channel revenue for SYSPRO is an important metric but some of the more detailed nuances might be penetration in their target markets and then traction towards their agreed upon targets.
Finally, one of the aspects that we’re looking at is their successful usage of the IDEAL implementation methodology. That’s key to delivering repeatable results for our customers and maintaining our positive customer focus.