Previously employed with Xerox, KPMG, Telus and Konica Minolta, David Morrow is currently a creative and goal-oriented Chief Commerical Officer at PrintFleet Inc. During his career he has been recognized as an expert in sales, performance management and a motivator of teams. We were able to steal 45 minutes out of his busy day to discuss how technology solves for the challenges he’s experienced in the sales management process.
Name: David Morrow
Title: Chief Commercial Officer, PrintFleet, Inc.
Area of Expertise: Strategy and management. Ability to lead on both strategic and tactical levels while producing economic value through on time execution; driving results and meeting deadlines.
What are some of the key challenges you face with core sales management processes such as:
Funnel and forecast management
The biggest challenge remains the difficulty of investing the time and talent to know the customers well enough to be able to predict (and therefore influence) their behavior.
There are many day-to-day challenges, including keeping the funnel up-to-date. Depending on the tools used, this requires a disciplined routine of gathering and consolidating opportunity information on a regular basis – at least weekly if you intend to have any sense of “real-time.” This process is complicated by geographical distance.
The quality of the content of the funnel is heavily dependent on the application of coaching and management oversight – ie. questioning. This also requires time and proximity to your sales people. If you take an operations view the idea is that you ensure that your resources are focused on opportunities that you will win. There is an incredible amount of energy wasted on chasing deals that will never close. You can’t afford this. Again driving waste out requires a lot of examination, discussion and coaching.
Recruiting, onboarding and training new sales professionals
Even if you apply a rigorous selection process you never know for certain that your candidate can do the job; there is always significant risk involved. A thorough assessment process can significantly reduce the risk, though this requires getting a candidate in front of a range of people, which again introduces challenges with time and distance. Onboarding and training are expensive and this is also amplified with distance.
There are some large companies that do all of this exceedingly well – leveraging communication technology such as video conferencing throughout the process. It can be difficult for smaller (less than enterprise scale, < 1000 employees) organizations to replicate that. They can’t devote the investment to develop the processes and platforms and then manage the outcomes effectively. Telepresence options such as cloud-based services can certainly help alleviate those issues.
Ensuring that your sales team has the right access to pre-sales resources/expertise to develop solutions for sales opportunities
In my view, productivity is at least partially a function of segregation of roles and integration of business processes. Selling complex solutions inevitably requires access to specialized knowledge, experience and skills – which requires access to specialists as well as other support resources driven by fundamental comparative advantage. There are never enough specialists and no matter how many you have, they cannot be in two places at once. Efficient and effective use of support resources is one of the fundamental keys to sales productivity. Therefore, being able to access those individuals on-demand with the help of such solutions as video conferencing, is truly an advantage that streamlines the process.
What communications tools are you currently using in your daily work? Describe how you interact with your team?
Email, mobile phones, and video conferencing tools are our primary communication tools. My company has a small sales force that is divided between HQ and our European subsidiary. When no one is traveling it is relatively easy to maintain good communications…but that is rare. It is also difficult to avoid the “us-versus-them” culture, with our European team feeling out of the loop to varying degrees constantly. Effective communications can be a real challenge with the current toolset.
What types of video conferencing are you currently leveraging?
We mainly use Skype right now. It’s inexpensive, but is only valuable at the one-on-one level and isn’t as reliable when multiple parties are introduced.
What would you think would be the leading benefits of video conferencing technology?
Achieving the regularity and intimacy required for effective sales management is a great advantage of this technology. Referring back to the idea of forecasting, and forecasting quality, I think a good deal of the challenge is to get the discussion time in – the coaching, questioning, examination – to properly support a sales person in their assessment of the quality of their funnel and how that lines up against their targets. Managing sales people at a distance means this is even more difficult, but certainly a challenge that reliable video conferencing technology would help overcome.
Editors note: A version of this post was republished with permission by the Telemerge Blog Team. View the original post here. Telemerge is a Cisco-certified Telepresence-as-a-Service (TPaaS) company based in Markham, Ontario. Request a free trial of their solution here.