Recently at SAP there has been a lot of discussion around three key topics namely Simplicity, Cloud and HANA and when these come together we have, in simple terms, something very powerful and consumable for business users.
Consumable is really the key word here as wether we like it or not we are all consumers and its this experience as consumers that is driving our expectations and understanding of what is possible with technology. For sales professionals it is no different, we have enough to do in driving business forward without having to deal with the complexity of IT systems.
Simplification has to go beyond the user interface, which is of course important, but needs to address the way sales professionals, also being consumers, work with information, processes and colleagues.
Being part of a sales organisation our work takes place while out and about between customer meetings, we have to manage our pipeline, provide forecasts, and collaborate with colleagues but we also “receive instructions” from our management in the form of driving new initiatives, bringing new products or services to market, targeting a new set of customers, etc and in order to do that the technology that we use has to cope with the above while remaining flexible enough to allow us to adapt it quickly to meet the new management directives.
Let’s face it, sales works closely with the MD / CEO and sometimes has to react to new initiatives and certainly won’t let technology barriers slow us down from delivering against our objectives.
Driving business ownership and technology adoption
To ensure a high degree of business ownership and adoption the sales professionals have to be an integral part of the journey and continuous evolution of the technology solution.
The approach that one of our partners AgilityWorks with SAP Cloud for Customer are using to drive this ownership for sales improvement projects is through a user-centric, agile methodology coupled with a practical, hands-on approach where discussions are always based around the system, so that sales professionals can see very clearly what it is they are getting.
This means that it’s much easier for sales professionals to understand what they are getting, versus a traditional waterfall methodology where they had to rely more on the contents of a whiteboard and their memory. This confirms quickly where the solution fits business requirements, and identifies earlier where there is a gap and an extension or alternative approach is required. The agile approach means that the solution evolves iteratively, so that at each subsequent workshop the attendees can see and buy-in to progress.
The extensive out of the box features and processes, rapid configuration and extensibility, and wide repertoire of reports means SAP Cloud for Customer supports this agile approach very well.
In short, it means you can get the solution ready very quickly. Typically the first project business process workshop is a few days after the initial discovery session with the next workshop, based around a refined solution incorporating attendee feedback, is typically a week after.
Sales professionals are better able to relate to solution concepts when the system uses data that they recognise, e.g., familiar customer names, products, and sales opportunities, so it’s important early on to create some representative data in the system. As the project moves on, and where integration to a backend system like SAP is required, hooking up the integration to populate SAP Cloud for Customer with a greater volume both create additional representative data and tests integration points.
Exposing information from SAP ECC, SAP CRM and SAP BW through SAP Cloud for Customer is another big benefit. As an example, AgilityWorks recently connected the Cloud for Customer Accounts with a backend SAP system in half a day. There were some data quality issues to resolve and some bespoke fields to address after this, but using the standard integration really accelerated the process.
Throughout the process, the focus needs to be on identifying the business requirements of each business role, and striking the right balance between attaining common processes yet meeting the nuances of each role’s requirements. For example, a key account manager will have different reporting requirements to a sales manager.
With a user-centric, agile methodology that is hands-on the sales professionals can ensure that the solution aligns closely with the desired business outcomes.
To help you visualise what this approach and solution looks like SAP and AgilityWorks will be demonstrating this at the annual SAP UK & Ireland User Group Conference in November – https://www.sapusers.org/conference/programme/view/?page=523
Acknowledgement: Thank you to James Hough from AgilityWorks for his time and thoughts in contributing to this blog.