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SAP has expanded its referral program
worldwide in an effort to entice more VARs and ISVs to refer small and midsize
business customers and cash in on the program’s rewards.

The sales referral program has been available in the United
States since late 2006, according to an SAP
spokesperson. Since then, the program has attracted around 250 members and
registered about 350 opportunities in the SMB market.

Referral members don’t have to be current SAP
channel partners, technology partners or business consultants to register for
the program, and the closing reward is generally 5 percent of the revenue
generated from the deal, the spokesperson said.

While some referral members might register just a few referrals, SAP
said if it noticed a high number of referrals coming from one source and that
source isn’t yet an SAP channel partner or ISV,
SAP would look to develop a deeper
relationship with that member.

Steve Torres, vice president of business development for
Axon Global, said his firm uses the referral program in two distinct ways. The
first is to identify and turn over customer opportunities to SAP,
which are then handled by SAP’s sales team.
The second is to act as the integrator on a deal.

Torres added that, as the referral member, Axon retained
right of first refusal to act as system integrator for that deal, and said if
an opportunity arose that was attractive to Axon from a budget standpoint or
that was a good fit with Axon’s core competency, then Axon would work with the
software vendor to provide integration services.

Axon’s relationship with SAP has proven
mutually beneficial, Torres said, since uncovering and referring software
license sales opportunities helps both Axon and SAP.
"It’s a refreshing change to come to the table not with our hands out, but
bringing something that helps SAP sell
software and help its footprint grow, which is all the better for us!"
Torres said. "We are actively working the streets for opportunity; we help
in all aspects of the sales cycle, from due diligence to site surveys; we’re
right beside SAP."

Roughly two-thirds of Axon’s business pipeline is created through the
relationship with SAP, and Torres said his
firm is on track to deliver $70 million in closed deals to SAP
in 2008. In the United States
in 2007, he said, Axon made $160 million in services revenue.

The sales referral program is free and requires a
one-time registration at the program’s member portal. Using the Web portal,
members can register opportunities, check program information and get status
updates on referred leads, SAP said. The portal also offers sales collateral and
e-learning sessions.