Democratizing IT Technologies to Improve Sales Infrastructure

Kris Holla, VP& CSO, Nortek, Inc.
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Kris Holla, VP& CSO, Nortek, Inc.

Kris Holla, VP& CSO, Nortek, Inc.

Technology Tools or Strategic Objectives

Before jumping to tools, as the head of sales, I started with our strategic objectives—what are we trying to accomplish this year and how do we deploy sales processes, people and tools to drive results and achieve those strategic objectives. We map out the key elements of sales across strategy, structure and management.

“The key areas for sales leaders should include leveraging real-time, integrated sales metrics reporting, tools for sales ops planning and better sales comp design and management”

This year, in particular, we are focusing on enabling the transition from a product sale to a consultative or solution sale–and tools which help us to better understand and support the client’s economics and objectives. Those tools and insights might include share of wallet or share of floor or warehouse insights, revenue and margin trends, attach rates and up sell, cross-sell opportunities, and our client and customers’ success or objectives in key product categories or segments.

Efforts to Implement Modern Sales Programs

Relationships will always be critical, butwill require a more consultative approach. Saying sales has to add value is easy, creating that value is more difficult. Sales must become an expert in the client’s business–which requires far more than product knowledge. With respect to organizing efforts,our focus areas arenew customer acquisition–still important, though with consolidation in channels new customers are less important than they used to be–that said, we still need to open new doors,customer retention, and growth in share of wallet.–Because certain channels consolidate, customer retention and growth becomes critical–and again this means aligning our sales and even product development efforts in support of our client’s strategic objectives and segments.

What has changed dramatically, however, is that selling to large important customers is increasingly a‘team sale’–and the most effective salespeople are increasingly those who can build bridges between our pockets of expertise by coordinating our resources and the customers’ need.

KeyPoints to Develop Sales

As discussed above, this is increasing a team sale–don’t go out there alone. You may not need support in every meeting, but don’t fail to leverage our team.

Relationships are important, but the only relationships that endure, or result in lasting sales, are those based on a trusted advisor and a consultative relationship.Focus on becoming an expert in your customers business.

Technology challenges in sales

The biggest technology challenge we have is making data actionable for sales to be more productive.The key areas for sales leaders should include leveraging real-time, integrated sales metrics reporting, tools for sales ops planning and better sales comp design and management. Moreover, we need help to understand share of wallet erosion, cross sell up sell opportunities and with differentiated value propositions. Mobile sales enablement platforms with up to the minute customized content configuration. Easy to use mobile based CRM systems facilitate sales collaboration and dynamic funnel planning.

Needs Yet to be Met

I want to keep my top performers or best reps, of course–and I think we are good at that. But I want to scale them–I want to bottle the things they do well and scale those competencies across the rest of my field force. This is one thing I wake up thinking about.

Another thing that causes concern is customer and channel consolidation. Consolidation can be an opportunity and a risk to multi-brand suppliers like Nortek.  

Impact of Technology Trends on Sales

CRM adoption is widespread, of course.Two years ago sales forces had CRM but adoption was low and functional fit was low. But a few years on, sales forces are pulling additional enterprise data into their CRM platforms to drive desired sales behaviors and support data driven conclusions and recommendations.

One practical implication of this technical enablement is to break down silos in a traditional product line organization. The right supporting systems have made it easy to inform and support a seller across product lines and categories–breaking down silos is good, of course, but this is also opening up cross selling and team selling opportunities

Evolution of Roles and Responsibilities of a CSO

As our business migrates to a ‘team sale’, my role is less about supporting our Sales Representatives in key meetings, and more about making connections at every level, and especially at the executive level of our key customers like an Ambassador.As Head of Sales, I’m trying to build bridges among Sales, Marketing andservice and break down barriers between product lines and staff groups so that we can bring the best of the firm to bear in this ‘team sale’.  This makes us a better supplier and opens up additional commercial and collaboration opportunities.

Choosing and championing new sales technology solutions to improve sales productivity and leading sales transformation efforts, working in close partnership with Ops and IT to improve sales infrastructure.With the advent of smart home, smart control and connected device technologies, this evolution from product sales to solution sales will continue. You can also sell more products from a diversified company like Nortek to a single large customer.

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