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Getting Into the Right Mindset: Pointers from Paradox to set you up for a successful journey with SAP

SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco graduate Paradox knows a thing or two about navigating the big, blue, bureaucratic ship that is SAP. From the get-go, Paradox considered SAP a strategic partner and came ready to commit to the path early on. From being the only digital recruiting assistant on SAP Store to use AI/ML to becoming an endorsed app in 2021(and a unicorn at that!), Paradox’s grit and mindset have helped them get a handle on the ins and outs of partnering with SAP, despite the various challenges. We sat down with Sylvia Miller, Paradox’s SVP of Alliances and Partnerships to discuss the mindset needed to optimize SAP as a channel partner.

Chatting with Sylvia Miller from Paradox!

On your mark, get set, learn!

One of the ways to make the most of your partnership with SAP? Come with a “ready-to-learn” attitude; consider yourself a student in the front row of SAP University! Sylvia emphasized the importance of asking questions, and being in a constant learning mode.

Some questions you should work to answer as an SAP Partner:

  • How does the SAP ecosystem function overall?
  • What are the general expectations of such a large enterprise? (from security and compliance to deadlines).
  • Who are the key stakeholders that I must align with, and how do I reach them?
  • What are the biggest needs and challenges of our mutual clients?
  • What tangible tips and nuggets can SAP.iO’s curated mentorship provide to me?
  • How can our startup organization and solution leverage SAP’s technology and open integration platform?

If you can’t answer these questions throughout your partnership journey, you will likely have a lot of difficulty in navigating a fruitful path forward. Once you do have the answers, there will be plethora of action items and follow ups for you to get to work on.

“To be able to sit down with CHROs and CFOs of organizations and ask questions like ‘When you look at new technology, what are some of the first questions you ask?’ or, ‘What are some of your biggest concerns?’ and for us to learn first-hand from those individuals was incredibly powerful for us as an organization,” shared Sylvia.

Setting expectations: You may have reached the top of the mountain, but alas, there is another summit ahead (or two)

Going into this partnership, it’s important that you have a grasp on what to expect from SAP, and, most importantly, what to expect from yourself and your team. Sylvia explained how critical expectation setting was and is for Paradox on their (slow, steady, windy) SAP partnership journey.

Some expectations to set for yourself and your startup organization when working with SAP:

  • The work is never done: Climbed a mountain? Great! Here’s another one. Reaching the next status tier takes a lot of work, and once you achieve it, it feels like the work has only just begun. Be prepared that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • It’s on you: The partnership is what you make of it. Put the expectation on yourself to create a successful partnership instead of putting the expectations on the other party.
  • You must invest: What you put in is what you will get out. During the Foundry program, Paradox had several people across multiple functions working with SAP because it was a huge priority for the organization.
  • Strike a balance: As an organization, you need to keep doing your job and expected workload while still investing time and energy in SAP.iO. We understand that you need to will need to prioritize, and there may be certain moments that SAP.iO is not on the top of your list. Be mindful of this need to balance your schedule, efforts and how you will maintain your commitment to drive a successful partnership with SAP forward.
  • Be patient (and persistent): It took Paradox 1.5 years (from the launch of the endorsed program) to become an endorsed app on SAP Store. Sylvia stressed that patience is an important part of the journey, and it takes time to build relationships, establish trust, and prove success.

“I always assumed that the work is on us as an organization to connect, foster relationships, and build the business. Expect and put the onus on yourself rather than relying on the other party,” said Sylvia.

Build and foster those relationships

A critical component to a successful partnership with SAP? Making and nurturing those connections. Sylvia couldn’t stress enough the impact that key SAP stakeholders had and continue to have on Paradox’s partner journey.

So, how can you understand the ecosystem and align with individuals that will steer you in the right direction?

  • Meet the matchmaker: Who connected you to this client? Was it a senior AE, someone from the industry team? Make sure to connect with whoever made the introduction!
  • Utilize your foundry connections: You have a built-in support system with your Foundry team. Let them help you navigate your way into the SAP eco-system. Have them connect you to those individuals that have built wonderful and trusted relationships with their customers.
  • Start with the client in mind and work backwards: While navigating the roles and titles in such a large organization is a daunting task, bring it back to the client. Together, this is who we need to serve.
  • Learn the SAP organization chart: SAP is massive. There are industry teams that oversee certain verticals, markets and regions. The industry teams manage certain industries (but of course!), and have the umbrella and oversight over certain verticals where the clients exist. How many markets are within this region? Who are the AEs in this market and industry that you should meet? The AEs are always tightly aligned with their customers.
  • Lean in to the ripple effect: Interest in the field will lead to more connections to more organizations and clients, which will lead to more winning opportunities together. Success breeds more success: Paradox not only had traction SAP SuccessFactors, but caught the interest of SAP Industry Cloud.

“Little by little we started to better understand the org chart. It’s like peeling an onion — there are so many layers…and with each, there is learning. -Sylvia Miller on relationship building at SAP.

To sum it up, if you want to create the foundation for a successful journey with SAP, you first need to master your mindset: Get ready to learn, set your expectations accordingly, and be ready to make a lot of new SAP friends. Who knows, maybe you will be our next endorsed App! And as for Paradox? Since becoming an endorsed app in December 2021, Paradox is seeing extraordinary levels of engagement and their premium certification is extremely meaningful and driving tremendous confidence with SAP customers. Paradox is looking forward to their rigorous and rewarding climb together with SAP as they continue to build a successful business and solve for mutual client needs.

Looking for more resources to help you leverage your partnership with SAP? Check out the one and only AlumniHub!

Are you a startup interested in working with SAP.iO? Contact us here!



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Stephanie Horwitz

Stephanie Horwitz


I lead global value creation for SAP.iO & I am the creator and host of “What Should I Do With My Life?”