In an effort to embody and demonstrate a commitment to the next-generation of sales leaders at SAP, I accepted a recent invitation to participate in an event with SAP Academy. In fact, I have now twice visited the Dublin training location after customer meetings in the bay to support the Academy as a Cloud subject matter and used “fireside chats” to openly discuss anything from corporate strategy to our Cloud product portfolio, to customer stories, to my personal learning experiences at SAP.
I saw smiling faces and nodding heads each time, but I heard sharp questions and felt a real and tangible desire for transparency like never before. SAP Academy Account Executives don’t just hope to remove barriers and break down silos that create inefficiency – they demand it. And not just from colleagues, Faculty leaders, Coaches, Managers, or Executives. In my experience, it is fundamental to their being, and something to be harnessed. They are not just passive consumers of technology, but change agents. They are outspoken, socially-charged, and empowered to be responsible for their own personal growth and development of what they value, love, and believe in. After all they are millenials.
There is a lot of focus on the cloud, and despite the hype that people claim it is – the fact of the matter is that the cloud is here and it is real. To ensure our customers receive tangible business outcomes we must provide them real value and deliver it quickly.
I always stayed longer than anticipated, and I left charged and energized by their innate desire for excellence. And to be sure, this wasn’t just about accepting an invitation to participate in this amazing program or schedule in some mentoring before heading back home. What they are doing at the Academy is completely innovative. Instead of “what to know,” the focus is on “how to learn.” After their presentations and evaluations those selected from each of four groups had the opportunity to present their final pitch to myself and my team via TelePresence upon my return to Germany. This extends their learning, and offers an opportunity to compete for additional time for feedback and coaching – not to mention bragging rights with their colleagues!
Many of the new colleagues stay connected, expand their and my network and constantly help me to learn. By shadowing during multiple engagements this next generation is keen and capable to learn fast.
Cloud will change in three months (or three weeks), but to be able to provide them with tools and a foundation to understand Cloud and shift as it shifts is astounding. They walk away from this experience being able to recognize what needs to happen in their field rotations and how to apply what they’ve learned. For me, this is so compelling. It means that they take this foundation and shape powerful customer experiences that ultimately lead to deeper relationships and innovative partnerships – all based on an open, transparent dialogue of needs – a true shift in mindset.
I look forward to joining the Academy team many more times and have the opportunity to say that I am taking steps to develop the next-generation of sales leadership in Cloud at SAP.