Partner Conferences: Do They Really Have a Purpose?

Attending a partner conference means being out of the office for a few days, but the ROI is well worth it.

March 1, 2018

3 Min Read
Person at conference

I’ve always been a fan of annual channel partner conferences. Having produced many of them over the years, I prefer them over general industry conferences — this is where my channel DNA gets to shine. 

I firmly believe channel partners should make it a priority to attend at least one of their top vendor’s partner conferences each year. Yes, it means being out of the office for a few days, but, believe me, the ROI is well worth it.  

More Than a Good Cocktail Party

Every partner conference that I’ve either produced or attended has a great cocktail hour. Each time I tell my wife that I’m traveling to one, she grins and thinks, “Boondoggle.”

Seriously, though, as fun as the cocktail hours can be, a good partner conference is more than a good party. You get to connect with the vendor’s leaders and understand their big-picture vision and strategy. It also is an opportunity to dive into business building and product-specific sessions that can potentially help drive new business all year.

For me, a partner conference is a high-touch event. When I produce a partner conference, I make sure that partners get the royal treatment – ensuring that the information they receive is meaningful, and making it easy for them to connect with our executives and each other.

Connection and Purpose

I’m currently neck-deep in planning for the SAP Global Partner Summit 2018, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency on June 4, the day before SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. This day is all about helping our partners take their SAP business to new level, and to create that high-touch experience.

To help partners connect better at our event, we’re introducing a partner “speed dating” experience called “PartnerConnect.” Technology will make the event more robust; partners can schedule meetings and collaborate with SAP and each other, based on their goals at the event. I look forward to seeing what the outcome will be.

At SAP, we’re also keenly focused on “purpose.” In fact “Partnering with Purpose” is the theme of this year’s event. Of course, SAP is concerned with bottom-line results. But our organization places a premium on helping the world run better and creating solutions that help people and businesses of all sizes have impact. Check out some of our #SAPInnovations4Good stories and you’ll see what I mean.

Whether you are going to a partner conference this year or still mulling it over, here are three tips to consider to get the most out of your next partner conference:

1.   Engage with the Vendor’s Channel Execs and Teams. Make an effort to get valuable face-time with the channel chief and channel executives responsible for sales, policies and partner program development. Make it a simple meet and greet, or a sit-down conversation on an important issue.

2.   Get friendly with the Marketing Team. Make sure that you or your marketing colleagues converse with your vendor’s channel marketing teams to get clear on any tools, assets or campaigns that you are not leveraging. 

3.   Connect with Industry Peers. I’ve seen successful, creative partnerships spring from an introduction at a partner event. Make sure you mingle — and make it known if you are looking to connect with partners with particular skill sets, access to geographies you want to tap into, or other go-to-market opportunities.

To get the most business value out of your partnerships, make a commitment this year to attend the partner conferences of your go-to vendors. It’s the perfect way to create business value—and enjoy a pretty good closing party.


Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter – @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at:

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.


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