SAP.iO
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SAP.iO

Working with SAP’s Account Teams to Land Your Next Big Customer

Check out these top tips from our conversation with SAP’s Global Account Director of The Home Depot, Jason Bidgood, on how to best collaborate with SAP and get your solution in the hands of our biggest customers.

Watch the full recording with Jason here!

Since 2018, The Home Depot has partnered with SAP.iO to deliver the latest innovations to their consumers and over 500,000 store associates. In The Home Depot’s own words, “collaborating with SAP.iO has elevated SAP to innovation advisor for The Home Depot.” This collaboration is a great example of the partnership between SAP.iO startup technology and SAP’s biggest customers. But how did we get here? We learn how with the help of Jason Bidgood, SAP’s Global Account Director of The Home Depot. In the latest In the Know with iO office hours, Jason shares how this partnership came about, and gave us some important tips gleaned from his experience on how your startup can be the next success story with one of SAP’s biggest customers.

A Bit of Background: The Home Depot’s Journey with SAP.iO

1. SAP and the Home Depot hosted a successful design thinking session in 2018 focused on how to improve store operations. The session defined four areas where SAP could potentially make an impact. The team chose to look to SAP.iO for innovation partners that could support.

2. After focusing on a specific area and selecting the startups The Home Depot deployed a proof of concept that leveraged the use of drones and robots to improve the associate experience by automating safety checks and inventory availability.

3. In 2019, The Home Depot visited SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco’s HR cohort consisting of 7 startups where the startups shared thought leadership on how they are improving HR processes with advanced technologies.

4. In 2020, SAP.iO hosted a virtual showcase where they shared the technologies of four retail and CX- focused startups with The Home Depot’s E-commerce lead.

5. In 2022, SAP hosted an in-person innovation day with the extended HR leadership team, where they heard from several SAP.iO startups who are solving complex HR challenges and improving the associate experience through innovative technology.

6. As a result, many pilots and deals for SAP.iO startups are now on the table!

So… What can your startup do to successfully engage with SAP account teams & work with our customers?

1. Explore the Different Ways to Innovate Together 🧐

Create a proof of technology: In the case of The Home Depot and SAP, once the team laid out priorities, they developed a ‘point of view’ for The Home Depot to show that we at SAP understand their goals, and have relevant technologies we can offer to achieve them. This ideation then leads to implementation of the plan, and finally a startup pilot.

Host Innovation Sessions: The Home Depot team came together for an Innovation session with SAP thought leaders and 9 relevant SAP.iO startups most recently in 2022. Much came from this face to face event, including three active sales opportunities and two pilots.

Plan a Virtual Startup Showcase: A virtual Retail startup showcase helped highlight our thought leadership, and startup technologies in Retail. These quick sessions can occur more often on specific topics with just your startup and possibly others if a collaboration is useful.

2. Know the “Who’s Who” in the SAP Zoo🐘

Understand the account structure. Get to know your line of business account executive. If you know who to align with in your specific area, this can help you to scale your startup business. Utilize Linkedin to research and utilize the introductions made during your time in the Foundries programs. Feel free to refresh your memory on networking within SAP and making internal introductions in this blog here.

Jason talks in detail about the account team structure and different positions that you must know in our recording above at the 12:53 timestamp

Study the account executives KPI’s. Knowing what the account executive cares about can help influence the degree of collaboration & interest in working with your startup.

Remember that LOB Sales Teams are always thinking ‘how does this help me sell more SAP?’ Lead with details such as deal size, talk about your win stories, and ensure collaboration is documented and registered properly through SAP store.

Leverage other points of scale. Business Architects, Industry Value Advisors (this is how The Home Depot team connected with SAP.iO), Enterprise Architects, LOB-specific pre-sales COE consultants, the list goes on! Get to know the other key players that could help you get your foot in the door.

Make sure to utilize your SAP.iO team member contact to help guide you and make introductions. You can always feel free to reach out our very own Head of Business Development Paul White for some guidance.

3. Plan your timing ⏰

Business is calendar-driven. The end of the year is about closing existing deals, and the critical entry point for new business occurs in the first couple months of year. Plan your strategy accordingly. Hello January and February!!!

At the start of the year, our accounts are thinking about how they will achieve results they are aiming for with their customers for the coming year. The beginning of the year is the time they will look to restructure their strategy to meet the strategic initiatives of their customers and are more open to hearing your message.

A challenge at the start of the year when everyone is focused on results is standing apart. How do you plan to cut through the noise? Top tip: go to the customers directly and then bring in SAP.

Best Practices from a GAD on Successfully Engaging with our Account Teams

1. Be willing to put in the effort to contextualize your story for that customer, even in the initial conversation with the SAP AE or GAD. Little details matter: change the colors of your presentation to that of the customers’, demonstrate you’ve done your homework, and make sure to show compelling investment.

2. Deeply understand your customer’s strategic initiatives. For the Home Depot the goal was to improve the customer and associate experience. Focusing on that as a starting point, the team looked at SAP and its partners to see what technologies would help achieve that goal.

3. Be flexible and willing to co-invest time, expertise, resources to collaborate on meaningful level.

4. In the initial internal conversation with SAP, talk about what success looks like. For example, is it 3-month journey, a 6-months journey with a goal for a pilot, a deal? Be open and be ready to share.

5. Develop a scalable “why you?” message. What is your messaging and why should people care — either through industry or LOB perspective. Make sure to connect the why you to why people (and who) should care.

6. Get attention fast from the SAP account team by helping them get past their concern of ‘why to focus on innovation?’ so they quickly understand how your solution creates pull through for core SAP and fits in with full SAP landscape. Make sure the vision is aligned.

7. Find and engage points of scale within SAP — there are thousands of people you could engage — so DO YOUR RESEARCH!

8. It’s about the choreography. Do not lead with solution, ROI, or logos of companies you have partnered with. Seek first to understand what the customer is trying to achieve. Recognize their perspective and view of the world. Lead with the insights that create intrigue and engagement.

When it comes to working with SAP, we always like to emphasize that it is a marathon, not a sprint! Your timing, content and context of your story within that of the customer’s, as well as your understanding of the SAP landscape are all critical in ensuring a successful collaboration with us. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it, and we are here to help!

Looking for more resources to help you leverage your partnership with SAP? Check out the one and only AlumniHub! Do you have any other topics you think would be useful for SAP.iO alums to hear, please let us know here. Last but not least, don’t forget to join our alumni Linkedin group here!

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

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Stephanie Horwitz

Stephanie Horwitz

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