What was the sales challenge?

Targeting new audiences with cloud solutions has meant negotiating a new and more rapid sales cycle. “It’s the difference between a decision taking two years and a decision taking two weeks,” explains APJ Sales Productivity & Enablement Lead, Mark Ghaderi. “People buying cloud solutions don’t tend to look around and talk to ten different vendors. These are younger managers, often in their 20s or 30s, who are comfortable with technology and accustomed to making quick decisions. It was absolutely essential that we could get to them quickly, and establish ourselves as subject matter experts.”

For the Inside Sales team, a particular focus has been nurturing leads amongst those not quite ready to buy when a sales rep first contacts them. Careful management of this pipeline has been essential for ensuring that SAP is in pole position when a decision is ready to be taken. On the field sales side, the transition to cloud solutions has often required expanding reps’ contacts within a client organisation – and connecting to C-suite decision-makers. Reps needed a more advanced tool for highly tailored relationship mapping, with real-time visibility on role changes.

Who are the target audience?

The world has changed since the global financial crisis. And so has the way companies buy. B2B purchases involve more stakeholders, many of which don’t have an IT background. Tech sales executives have to engage with Line Of Business owners and business managers across the enterprise. 

The explosive growth of cloud solutions has introduced a new type of buyer and the need to reach out to smaller companies that may not be traditional buyers of SAP’s core solutions. SAP’s sales team must also guide existing clients through the transition to the cloud, providing reassurance and stressing the brand’s expertise in the field.

The Results

Mark worked closely with the SAP teams to maximize value for the Sales Navigator investment from the start, using word-of-mouth to spread enthusiasm across the organisation. Results were hugely positive across the region’s varied territories, from Singapore and Hong Kong to rapid-growth markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and India. Even in North Asian markets, reps were able to find and engage CXO decision makers through LinkedIn.

Inside Sales found immediate value in using Sales Navigator for high-volume but highly targeted prospecting, with reps able to engage successfully with CXO decision-makers. Field sales followed suit, realizing large-scale benefits from multi-threading and deeper account penetration. Leveraging warm introductions from expanded networks and getting real-time visibility on role changes has enabled highly tailored relationship mapping.

  • Sales Navigator has proved equally effective across all business cultures in the region, from North Asian markets such as China, and Korea to South Asian markets like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and India
  • From an initial pilot of 50 seats in South East Asia, ANZ and India, SAP has scaled up to 500 seats within its first year, and will shortly roll-out a further 1,000 licenses
  • Reps using Sales Navigator have the highest Social Selling Index (SSI) and score nearly twice as high as industry peers

What did SAP do to achieve this success?

Key to success was executive sponsorship from leaders like Jose Aramburu, VP Inside Sales, and Mark Ghaderi, APJ sales productivity head. LinkedIn’s Instruct programme provided comprehensive train-the-trainer workshops in the US equipping Mark to take ownership of the programme. This was supported through local training, on-demand tutorials and videos, and social selling workshops.

SAP leaders undertook social selling manager training to ensure they could lead by example and make social selling part of the review process. Additional training for reps and leaders included professional branding, thought leadership via targeted content sharing, blog posts, rich media content, and use of LinkedIn groups to expand networks. Quarterly social selling blitz days and town hall meetings helped to turn early adopters into regional role models.

About SAP

Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, with locations in more than 130 countries, SAP is the world leader in enterprise software and software-related services. 

SAP’s considerable success has been built on its centerpiece Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is today used by 80% of Fortune 1000 companies. In recent years however, SAP has placed an increasing focus on nimble, cloud solutions. SAP is today the world’s biggest provider of cloud solutions.

INDUSTRY: Computer Software
HQ LOCATION: Walldorf, BW, Germany

In their own words


“With the updated data lists on LinkedIn, it’s easier to target the CEOs of businesses that I’m targeting for cloud solutions in China. It has really shortened the sales cycle.”

Charles Ruan, Account Manager


“LinkedIn is hugely important for our Demand Nurturing Agents. Sales Navigator enables us to transform our sales process by finding and engaging the right decision makers with relevant content and key insights in a programmatic way – and that’s created a significant number of opportunities.”

Mark Ghaderi, APJ Sales Productivity & Enablement Lead


“I used Sales Navigator’s Advanced Search to locate the right contact for Telematics and Infotronics at one of India's leading auto manufacturers. The right contact came up as the very first search result, and the executive responded to my insight led InMail to set up a meeting, uncovering a large opportunity in an emerging market space.”

Zubin Baben, Business Manager