We’re in the middle of a big sales shake up

There’s been a bit of buzz around ‘Inside Sales’. It’s a role that’s potentially supersized the growth of many a SaaS organisation over recent years.

It’s also been a bit of a game changer for careers. The notion is a fairly simple one.

Sales—especially B2B sales—is currently undergoing a transformation. As customers become more spread out and remote, sales models are having to act. We’re seeing a big increase in companies invest in a new sales models that involves high touch transactions. It’s been defined as ‘Inside Sales’ and it’s pretty popular with B2C and B2C companies selling high ticket services.

The nature of services offered by SaaS companies is often a fairly complex sell – it requires a relationship beyond traditional transaction.

Engagement, trust, genuine interest in what a company is trying to achieve is the new norm when making a sale.

Customers now have a cycle, and it’s not just a linear path – multiple touch points at multiple stages has put a strong emphases on Sales and Marketing working as one smooth transaction.

The inside sales model is often more cost-effective as a result of advances in sales technology as there’s capability to interact with a higher volume of leads.

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics recently explained: “Enterprise sales are changing. People are busier than ever: they don’t want to take time out of their day to meet with a sales rep in their office. Fact is, they’d rather be at home with their family than getting wined and dined by someone they don’t know.

The upshot is that they’re willing to cut large checks without ever having a face-to-face meeting with anyone from your company. I’m paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on Salesforce.com and I’ve never met a sales rep in person.

Let’s face it, the CIO is no longer the only person who matters when making technology buy decisions. Demand tends to be driven from the bottom up by people who need, or already use, your product.

So focus on inside sales. We use a hybrid model that’s 90/10 inside/direct. We do million-dollar deals over the phone and use an in-person meeting to close. It cuts costs and our sales reps are twice as productive when they’re in the office.

We hire people who can have high-level conversations with executives and not embarrass us, but who are hungry and scrappy enough to get on the phone and figure out how to navigate the customer’s organization.”

It’s a big shift for sales teams, practically eliminating the need for a cold call. The conversations themselves are also well informed thanks to smart CRM and marketing automation tools. Hard, cold calling is being replaced with engaging, valuable conversation.

A few things you should know about inside sales:

How it took off – Helming a cash-strapped startup, CEO Marc Benioff pioneered several inside sales techniques out of necessity. Perhaps the most prominent example was the company’s offer of free online trials that required no prior contact with a sales rep.

Common job functions:
Sales prospecting
Inbound Sales
Lead Qualification
CRM data logging.

The bigger picture -The alignment between sales and marketing ensures that marketing focuses on the best performing leads in the funnel. Sales reps can interject with a call and close a deal without even leaving the office.

The key to success: Trust. There’s no use in having a world of information if it’s not used in communication. It’s down to the sales team to earn the trust of a prospect and gain an in-depth understanding of their overall business goals.

The right fit: It’s a pretty unique balance of skills for the role covering a large set. Reps combine phone, email and digital or social skills with the more persuasive and target driven skills of a sales rep. It’s a great opportunity to craft skills along the entire sales process from prospecting to researching to presenting to negotiating.

Future leaders: Inside sales leaders of the future need to be people-focused. They need to understand the required skills and competencies. Common paths from inside sales lead to senior inside sales role dealing with larger value deals or field sales BDM.

Outsourcing? Don’t trip up on customer experience…

We’re starting to see some real changes in the Shared Services industry. Whilst the earlier focus on delivery cost remains important, the all-in cost to the enterprise is more in focus.  SLAs are becoming less important as users are realising that green SLAs don’t feel green, cheap does feel cheap, and the lack of the ‘right’ service is spawning an increase of shadow services across the enterprise eating into the initial estimated business case benefits.

The earlier solution to cost pressures through increased scale is facing into the reality that there are two curves at work – benefits of scale versus cost of complexity, and as you scale out across processes the added complexity can cause your benefit case to turn negative.

There is a need to look at this again, and this time from a different direction; the customer perspective, rather than purely from a cost and efficiency perspective.    For the cost element, Shared Services need to be looking to manufacturing to learn new tricks.  Whilst lean has been a buzzword for years, the new focus on lean in the context of a component based service delivery model is gaining ground.

“View every process as if you’re a customer, and then apply learning from the manufacturing industries – when you start doing this you start moving your services away from products and to a customer centric process.” Explained Simen Munter, Group General Manager of Global Shared Services at ANZ when I recently caught up with him to discuss the changing nature of ANZ’s business.

Five years ago, ANZ embarked on a strategic transformation which recognised there was a unique opportunity to create value for shareholders by broadening its presence in Asia, whilst leveraging its strong foundation in Australia and New Zealand, to become a super regional bank.   The move recognised that a once-in-a-century shift was underway in the global economy as growth opportunities moved from the developed economies of the West to the Asia Pacific region.

“Instead of running 33 different banks, we want to be able to gain scale benefits and run as one bank across the 33 markets in which we operate. To do this we have significantly invested in our operations network across the region.

Our hubs network is expanding ANZ’s operations capability to support business growth in a way that is sustainable and cost effective. As a part of our super regional growth strategy we have operations in Australia, New Zealand, Manila (the Philippines), Chengdu (China), Bangalore (India) and Suva (Fiji).”

ANZ Operations

In Shared Services we aspire to operate  through a set of processes which are globally consistent, but able to handle local variations. We work to have the right people in the right locations to offer the best service to our customers.

Simen explained: “Specialist hubs help us build a super regional workforce, giving us access to capabilities that may be limited in our domestic markets. The Manila hub, for example, is a centre of excellence in voice based work. Our hubs are built around local talent pools and expertise.”

“Capability and capacity are the main drivers of a customer centric operating model. Staff in operating hubs provide additional capability to deal with increased volumes and allow in-country teams to focus on other activities that support business and customer outcomes. We work towards sharing products, platforms and processes across our geographies to give us the ability to build a ‘single production line’ and maximise re-use wherever possible.

“A key benefit of our approach is the ability to access ‘been there and done that’ talent, enabling us to leverage experience gained elsewhere. Take things like payroll and accounts payable, we have 33 markets to run this for. To find people who are experienced at running that kind of complexity is very difficult in Australia, whereas some global companies have done this for years. By being able to tap into a wider pool of skillsets across multiple locations we can leverage these learnings and operate more efficiently.“

“There is a real opportunity through blending highly skilled employees with low cost delivery so that we can be both locally competitive and cost effective. Nowhere is this as important as when you are competing in low cost locations.”

Looking for the extra edge

Looking at what you do from a customer perspective is challenging, as current best practice has been focused on SLAs and not based around the moving target of providing excellent customer service.   SLAs are typically set at the worst outcome your customer is willing to accept – meeting that consistently is hardly a good measure of success.

Simen explains: “The focus cannot be on these types of measures, the focus must be on solving the issue for your customer. My approach to shared services leverages skill and expertise across our regions to design, build and deliver services with the customer in mind.

“You’ve really got to focus on quality, as bad quality is a driver of resource requirements. The other focus is to ensure that the work being done is worth doing or is it work which exists as a result of failure in other processes.  We are seeing substantial opportunities in ‘turning off’ volumes by fixing things at source by looking beyond the current process and into what would have been ‘perfect’.

“We have seen a significant uptake in both external customer satisfaction and  internal customer satisfaction over recent  years.  It’s something we’re spending a lot of resources on as we see that as critical for our long term success.

“We focus on getting the customer service right and embed this  in our processes.

Also, when you have satisfied customers it gives you the room you need to further innovate and improve. If you are on the backfoot with quality you are spending all your time firefighting.  I don’t want great firefighters, I want superb ‘fire prevention officers’ – the people whom are able to look at things which are ‘not perfect’ and change them prior to issues becoming real service issues.”

Increased expectations

For outsourcers, these changes in approach can be quite complicated. Previously a product or transaction based approach was the norm, and you could meaningfully quote for particular parts of a business.  In a component based enterprise, the ‘end to end’ products disappear as many processes are identical across products and there is a new need to offer value beyond undertaking a particular type of ‘set in concrete’ work.

“This is similar to what happened in manufacturing decades ago, you can’t just aim to deliver to outdated SLAs, you have to own the outcomes in a very different way, as your element is integrated into the overall service delivery in a much more holistic manner.  The outsourcer needs to make sure they drive the innovation within their area, it isn’t only about the ‘run’ and meeting SLAs anymore.

“You need a competitive advantage beyond offshoring.  Outsourcers really need to bring something which adds value beyond the  added complexity of engaging with them, demonstrating they know what a business wants, they know what good output looks like and they know how to do it effectively.

“Overall, we’re seeing a strong growth in the industry towards work going to captives as they have proven to be more effective in driving adaptive change – it is difficult to outsource change. However, as organisations are increasingly process oriented, there’s a huge opportunity for outsourcers to provide large scale processes offering standardization while leveraging capabilities across multiple customers.” said Simen.

“I continue to see Global Shared Servicesas a key growth area in the corporate world, and an exciting area of opportunity for talent.  The specialist skill-sets required to effectively use a global delivery model, optimise skill-sets across talent pools and locations,  automation, organisation, production management is valued and there is a level of excitement about how the world of service delivery is changing.

“We are also seeing real opportunities in other areas, for instance, reporting and analytics is an important area for us.  We see that as a huge growth area, both in terms of offering the service to others across ANZ, but also in terms of using those insights into operating more effectively ourselves.

“There are two golden rules: quality cannot go down and price cannot go up. We don’t believe we need to compromise on quality to get the cost benefit when we do this right.

“Our customers need consistency, effectiveness and efficiency and that is what we aim to deliver,”said Simen.

“If you look at what’s successful from our perspective there’s only two metrics which really matter: customer satisfaction and cost.”

Join Simen during Shared Services & Outsourcing Week 2014 where he’ll be delivering the presentation Driving out Costs while Improving Internal Customer Service Delivery.

Inside Johnson & Johnson: Transforming the HR function across 14 countries

After working across the SSON portfolio for a couple of years now, I’ve seen few key trends starting to emerge.

One that really stands out is the heightened focus on the HR function. I first noticed the theme during the 2013 Shared Services and Outsourcing Week, which saw a huge increase of HR professionals in the room. Since then, it’s continued to be a hot discussion topic. So, what’s causing the spotlight to shine on HR? And, perhaps more importantly, how can this core function that affects every single employee help drive a smarter business?

To uncover some answers, I recently caught up with Cherrie Porter, Senior Human Resource Director at Johnson & Johnson. She’s responsible for ensuring the successful transformation of the Human Resource function in 14 countries across Asia Pacific. Cherrie is going to be kicking off our HR Transformation stream during Shared Services and Outsourcing Week Australasia 2014 and it’s looking set to be a packed room.

We discussed the changing role of HR, the importance of taking a staged, tailored approach and the pitfalls of change management during a transformation project.

SSO Week has seen massive growth in number of HR attendees, why do you think that is the case?

It’s one of those things where I don’t know exactly what’s caused it, but I think some of it is driven by the fact that HR is becoming more sophisticated as a function and the professional HR people now working in that function really do want to be part of the strategic activities, the more value-adding activities rather than the pure transactional piece.

HR wasn’t always seen as a profession that required qualified people in the role. In its own right, it’s now starting to be elevated to where it should be.

Why was the decision made to standardise processes at J&J over the 14 APAC countries? Did you face any integration issues?

We’ve approached it on a couple of different levels. Historically J&J has operated as a very decentralised company, meaning that in any one of those 14 countries there could be multiple operating companies.

In Australia there are four, in China 13, in Singapore nine, each with a different number of companies; it’s meant that there has never been a head of J&J in Australia.

Firstly, we standardised processes, not across Asia Pacific as a whole, but at a country by country level. From there we said: ‘OK Australia, here are your four ways of doing different transactions for HR, pick one. You can start with a fresh sheet of paper; just pick the one you think is the best option and build on that.’

The focus is currently on China, there are nine different ways of getting compensation information to Payroll, and there will soon be just one.

Technology also had an impact. Our aim has been to keep things as simple as possible, so we developed a template of how we thought a process should be. That template was taken to different countries to establish if it could work. Sometimes we’d have to change a few things depending on legislation, etc. For example, some countries would require paper copies of certain documents.

Aligning processes to fit the technology template was a challenge; we were faced with some real push back. These new electronic processes interfered with the way things had always been done for years and often required a few cultural shifts. We really had to challenge the value-add on each process and ask how we can become more efficient and effective in the way we’re operating.

Our mantra has been ‘simple, standard, global’ and we really just questioned if it doesn’t fit any of those three… Why not?

Using a phased approach clearly helps achieve success. How does your change management strategy fit in with this and how have you been ensuring continuity and support throughout?

Change management is always tricky, it’s relentless. I’ve been at J&J now for nearly eight years and I’ve been working on this transformation for all that time.

A few years ago we decided to move everybody onto a SAP platform, reengineering all the processes, harmonising all the policies, using an outsourced vendor. We went live with that in several markets.

It lasted three years, and in April 2013, we brought all those countries back into J&J. They’re still running on SAP but now they are under our control, we run them and don’t have our third party vendor doing the transactional work anymore; it’s set up internally.

In the meantime we had to deal with all those other countries that weren’t on SAP.  We had to be flexible enough to say, we made one decision and it’s not really working for us and it’s time to change course, but that doesn’t mean we’ve thrown everything out. We’ve tried to leverage the best of what we had before and revisit that strategy, the vision and the direction. Our vision and direction of the transformation was right (moving transactional work into one area so HR partners could focus on business strategy), we just needed to make some changes to our approach.

As a result, countries went backwards and forwards so they’d probably been on a bit of a rollercoaster. The more progressive HR operators in those countries have jumped on board and got on with it to see where it’s all going. There are still people that are clinging to the old way of doing things, or believing that this is just another fad and if they sit it out long enough it will all go away.

For us the key was to just bite chunks off and move at a pace people are comfortable with. Some of our staff have been here for over 25 years, so it was important to not rush in.

At a country level, China has always been the big challenge for us. It’s the fourteenth and last country that’s coming on board and it’s where we are currently. They’ve looked at the project and seen that it’s not going away and as a result are much more bought into it.

Success builds success; the momentum has led to people more willing to participate. The softer approach, the small steps rather than large leaps, has certainly helped us.  It wouldn’t work everywhere, but it’s something that is working for us, never lose sight of the big picture. We learn from each other and we listen.

Have you been faced with any unexpected obstacles on your journey? Are there any lessons learnt you could share with other organisations on the same route?

Some of them are a little bit sensitive as it’s our own internal doing, such as the battle between HR and Payroll (I’m sure we’re not the only ones that have that). It leads to a lot of politics and has definitely been one of our biggest obstacles, working cross-function, internally.

Change management has also been an obstacle in terms of how people react when things don’t go well. Looking back to the start of our journey, it wasn’t going well with our third party vendor and a brave call had to be made to bring it back in-house. Unfortunately after that, we were almost too scared to move, so we went into this 18 month period where not much really progressed. The countries that had been on the brink of going live were told to hold for two months, it turned into almost two years where nothing happened.

Choosing your external partners wisely makes a huge difference. Spend the time finding a really good fit and someone you can trust and really work with; that makes all the difference if they understand you and what you’re trying to achieve.

Finally, you’re delivering a case study presentation during the Australian SSO Week 2014, taking place in June in Melbourne. What will the audience be able to take away from your session?

If I put myself in the shoes of someone attending rather than facilitating that conversation, it’s those lessons learned that can help the journey. There’s no right and wrong to any of this, it’s just keep your eyes wide open. Ask yourself, if I’m about to embark on this journey what do I need to be on the look out for? It may not be exactly the same as what happened at J&J but it’s still a really good question to have on a checklist. Some of those watch-outs and some of the big ‘ah-ha’ moments, those are the things people will walk away with.

I know myself when I’ve sat in these sessions, it’s reassuring to hear that others are having a similar experience and that you’re not going crazy! It’s a great experience to be with like-minded individuals and take away a few things that are potential pitfalls and traps. I can hopefully help people avoid going far down the wrong path. I don’t know there’s any way to totally avoid it but the eyes wide open is a good way to describe it.