Management Motivations: Lead by example to foster a sales culture of continuous improvement
Management Motivations is a new series of articles by Quectel’s senior executives that explores their management styles, approaches to the challenges of further developing the company and what drives them to lead and succeed.
Peter Fowler, Senior Vice President, North America Region
Number 2: Lead by example to foster a sales culture of continuous improvement
The crux of my approach to management is to measure and achieve benchmark standards in all areas that impact a customer’s desire to partner with Quectel as their supplier. By providing high levels of customer satisfaction and a passion for our customers business, then expanding that relationship for future programs is almost certain to follow.
Salespeople tend to be more relationship oriented than, for example, an engineer. It is management’s role to implement processes and structure with those who are not naturally drawn to them, that’s what it takes to be industry leaders. In sales management, methodology is in my view as critical for market share as it is for product developers building portfolio. Sales organizations lacking professional standards, while many, will never achieve what is possible even if the products and support are the best of breed. In terms of talent development my priority is implementing automated reporting tools to measure those behaviors which most predictably lead to success. I am therefore leery of experienced salespeople who may not be accustomed to being measured and benchmarked against the strongest performers. High potential persons from other roles such as FAEs and marketing/relationship management are excellent candidates, as not having yet learned sales management, they are fresh sheets of paper to build good habits with. Successes build as habit, those things that failures rarely get around to.
This means I can be mentoring and instructive rather than have negative interactions trying to bring someone to a higher standard. I am transparent on those key performance indicators (KPIs) which are reported weekly and quarterly so that those who perform well are certain to be recognized. Having unfiltered and clear measurements everyone knows what is expected, possible, and where improvement is possible. In an instance when a customer is not satisfied, we can almost always do a post-mortem and identify the KPI we failed to achieve, and review our other customer engagements to ensure we add the needed focus. Most frequently we uncover that a defined mandatory process such as follow up or escalation process was not being adhered to. In these circumstances process improvement is implemented as this need to do better is part of Quectel’s culture.
Sales success means being close to the customer. In pre-COVID 19 times I spent approximately 150 nights in hotels per year, as understanding the customer’s requirements and how to approach that customer has to be done face-to-face. We also boil down all of the key aspects of sales interactions, such as technical evaluations launched, number of competitor accounts meetings held, etc. into formal reporting based on the important categories. Those KPIs are reviewed monthly and quarterly.
As important as standards-based process is, the people we put in front of customers are equally critical. Many competitors could at least to a reasonable extent, satisfy the same customers if they were so inclined. Quectel is not the only provider with products and support persons. Companies will become and remain as Quectel customers only if the humans that they interact with from Quectel genuinely care and are highly active in looking after that customer. If we put commitment and effort into controlling those things that influence a customer’s satisfaction, the result is a dramatic impact on results and market share. Any customer needs to know that their business is very important to Quectel and that we will stop at nothing to ensure they are rewarded for being our partner. The complexity of a device maker developing a cellular product based on a pre-approved module will require human interactions for a long time to come. Even with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we will find ways to work alongside our customer to ensure we serve them effectively. We must prove our commitment to our customers experience by being better prepared for each interaction, and doing a superior job is follow up and sharing of important information they want and need.
Being on the road and managing and encouraging a team obviously dominates my time but I keep on top of this with a defined process. This involves a monthly funnel review process in which each salesperson is required to document their outreach and update our CRM system on the status of each activity. To aid efficiency this includes utilization of automated reporting tools.
We also work to ensure face-to-face interaction by travelling to meet key customers a minimum of once per quarter. Frequently we have executive management in attendance for these meetings, and our product managers also meet and engage with customers and prospects. In addition, we schedule meetings at important trade events such as MWC and CES. Finally, we have regular strategy sessions in which we bring everyone together to review each and every OEM that makes up the total available market (TAM). We then identify what next step is needed to target each OEM and working with our partners confirm that approach with the competitor’s customer.
Look out for my next blog in this series: “Complex sales rely on expertise to keep the process on track.”