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Concur Counting On New Channel Program To Accelerate SMB Sales Growth

The new Concur Solution Provider program, led by former Microsoft channel manager Sachin Vora, is designed to recruit partners with cloud expertise.

Concur, the SAP-owned travel and expense management application developer, is launching its first formal partner program with an eye toward leveraging the channel to reach more small and midsize customers.

The new Concur Solution Provider Program will reward VARs and cloud solution providers for referring new SMB customers to the vendor, said Sachin Vora, senior director of global business development. Vora, formerly Microsoft worldwide SMB partner lead, was hired by Concur in February to set up and manage the new program.

While Concur has run partner incentive initiatives in the past, they were not to the scale – or have the growth goals – of the new program.

[Related: SAP Partners See Opportunities, Challenges In New HANA Releases]

"We have always believed in the power of the ecosystem, the power of the channel," Vora said in an interview with CRN. "This is really about broadening our program, broadening out the resources."

Walldorf, Germany-based SAP acquired Concur in December 2014 for $8.3 billion in one of the giant software company's first moves into cloud computing.

Concur has 33,000 customers, and while the software is a staple inside many large corporations, the SMB space has been its fastest-growing market segment for the past two or three years, Vora said. The company defines SMBs as companies with 1,000 or fewer seats.

The vendor has long worked with service partners like American Express and ADP, accounting firms and ERP application vendors. While that list has included VARs and solution providers, Vora said the goal of the new program is to recruit more solution providers that cater to SMBs to expand the company's SMB customer ranks.

Concur is especially seeking partners with experience with cloud software such as Office 365 (Concur recently unveiled plans to integrate its software with the Microsoft cloud applications) and expertise in helping customers adopt cloud IT.

Bob Kane, senior vice president of product marketing at Phoenix-based Insight Enterprises, a Concur partner and No. 15 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said in a statement that the new program "lets us help our clients streamline cumbersome processes and create value in travel and expense, two areas that typically tax their limited resources."

The Concur Solution Provider program has three tiers: Registered, Platinum and Diamond; with customer acquisition skills and processes a key factor in determining partner rankings, according to Vora. The program will provide partners with demand generation, sales, and marketing content and assistance.

The program will utilize a referral sales model with partners bringing new SMB customers to Concur, which will actually close the sales, Vora said. Partners will be paid a share of the revenue generated for the first two years of customer contracts. Vora described the revenue share for partners as "very rich" without disclosing actual numbers.

"We have made it richer because we are very focused on customer acquisition," he said.

The new program was launched Thursday in the U.S. and Canada and will expand to the U.K. and Australia soon.

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