Managing a Successful Sales Transformation

Managing a successful salesforce translformation.


Hi, my name is Gerhard Gschwandtner and welcome to Selling Power TV. Today we have the pleasure of meeting with Ken Powell who is Vice President of Global Sales Enablement and Learning with SunGard. Welcome, Ken.

Hi, Gerhard, thanks for having me.

We have done a cover story on SunGard where we talk about your sales transformation, and there's one particular piece that I think is really fascinating, which is your global account management strategy. Can you share with us how you've achieved that transformation in that area?

SunGard was an organization that evolved through a series of acquisitions over 15 or 20 year period of time. And as you can imagine, with acquisitions comes lots of different products, processes, people. And in the case of how we interact or face off with our customers, in many instances, that could create other confusion and or duplication.

So at the end of the day, what we're trying to do is grow our business. We want to increase our top line, we want to keep customers for a longer period of time, but we want to take a really customer-centric point of view on how we solve that growth problem for ourself. So in looking at major accounts, which makes up a large percentage of our overall revenue-- both a domestic and international basis-- we had to figure out a better way to organize around those customers.

What we heard was, we want a solutions provider. We want someone that brings us insight before we have problems. We need a simple way to buy from you, everything from how you communicate, to how you invoice us, to how you face off on a daily basis.

So those are the types of issues that our customers presented to us. What they're experiencing, if you have been following the financial services market for the past couple years-- which I'm sure everyone has-- that industry is in tremendous change. Our customers at the C-level and beyond are faced with, how do I acquire new customers, how do I deal with the mounting changes in the regulatory and compliance space, and how do I deal with getting lean or staying lean.

The infrastructure, both from my technology and process standpoint that many of these large financial institutions have, has been built, managed, and maintained over a long period of time. But the cost pressures that they have, the speed at which business is changing, just doesn't allow them to operate in the same environment.

So given the complexity of the issue, did you develop that major accounts program internally, or did you look for outside help?

I've always been a big believer that you can't try to solve these problems on your own. So within the four walls of the SunGard organization, we certainly have some very unique point of view and experience that we bring to the table to solve for this, but we went to ZS Associates as a trusted partner to really help think about the strategy for a major accounts program. How to organize, what should people's roles and responsibilities be, what are the right incentive and compensation structures that reward behaviors that are in both our best interests and that of a customer.

Some of the changes that we've made as a result of the work is, we've organized better from a leadership standpoint, our teams of sales professionals are working in a more harmonious manner, they're communicating both internally and externally with the customer in a more succinct fashion.

We've built and are maintaining a better account review cadence, both internally and what we talk to our customers about. We've started an executive support program so that our customers have a high level outreach point, and our internal sales and account directors have a 0.4 issue escalation and resolution.

What advice would you give to other companies, Ken, if they want to go through a similar transformation?

I would say, first, you've got to pick the big boulders to move. We all know that there's limited time, limited investment. So are you picking the priorities that will move the number, are you making the investments in the right place, and you have the executive sponsorship to move the change forward in your organization. The next area is talent. I'm always a big believer that problems get solved when you have the right people on the bus.

And unfortunately, I've seen all too often that companies, when they're going through a transformation, organize around the people they have versus the optimal model. So as hard as that might be sometimes to make those decisions, it's really important to reflect on, do I have the people and do those people have the skills to move our business forward.

Thank you very much, Ken.

Thanks Gerhard