The SAS Partner Program is all about providing more complete solutions for our own and partners’ customers. The program aims to bring together SAS’ software experience and knowledge with partner organisations’ domain and industry expertise. It therefore helps customers to get access to and make the best use of innovations and business solutions. Effectively, it ensures that all our customers can obtain a comprehensive analytical solution that really fits their requirements, set within the context of their industry, location and sector.
The partner program is important for SAS, partners and customers. For SAS and its partners, it provides opportunities for growth, new markets and better service. It expands the potential customer base while providing more complete packages that better meet customers’ needs. For customers, it is even more crucial. It ensures that they can tap into double quantities of expertise across a broader range and area and get high-quality analytic advice, but set within their own context.
This may sound straightforward, but building and maintaining the right partnerships is anything but. Part of my role is to help develop partnerships, which I see as creating "superpartners." I believe there are four main parts of the superpartner jigsaw puzzle, all of which need to be in place for a partnership to work. That is not to say that they must be in place immediately. But partners must be prepared to commit to developing them over time.
Corner 1: Sales is the entry point for any partnership
No partnership can be profitable without successful sales. The sales team needs to be committed to working in partnership, and to the concept that the partnership can provide a better, more complete solution for customers. This is the starting point for building trust and commitment both between partners and with customers – and therefore crucial. Potential partners must show interest in and commitment to building a dedicated sales team that can see the big picture for the partnership.
Corner 2: Service delivery
I see service delivery as being equally important to the sales function, not least because of its focus on customer needs and wants. Service delivery can be a double-edged sword. However, when you get it right, it becomes a Pandora’s box of limitless opportunities for both SAS and the partner organisation, as well as the customers. Good service delivery means working closely with customers to ensure that the partnership can deliver effectively to meet their needs, providing agility, security and confidence. Partners’ service delivery teams will need to work closely with SAS teams to ensure a coherent service for customers.
Corner 3: Presales drives engagement
People often talk about sales being the key to the door. If so, I think we can describe presales as being the keyhole. You cannot open a locked door that is missing one or the other. Setting up both a dynamic sales team and a powerful and autonomous presales function will give partner organisations the power to unlock almost any potential opportunity. It will also enable close coworking with SAS customer advisory resources. This will improve messaging and generate an enormous amount of collateral.
Corner 4: Marketing opens doors
Marketing provides support with demand generation and pipeline creation, both essential parts of the sales journey. Partners who provide great marketing boost their own and SAS’ sales coverage and provide more space for their sales teams to work across the whole potential market. Effectively, if presales and sales are the keyhole and key, marketing shows them where the door is located.
Why do these four elements matter? Because developing successful partnerships is all about trust: trust between partners, but also building trust among customers. I believe that the best way to develop that trust is to show that you share values and vision, and are prepared to put the work into the relationship. Bringing together these four elements will demonstrate that shared commitment to alignment, and investing in solving customers’ most pressing problems.
Putting customers at the heart of everything
Perhaps most crucially, all these elements will enable partners to put customers at the heart of what they do, and help to develop the best possible solutions for those customers.