HCMx Radio: SAP Demonstrates How to Improve Global Sales Performance

Most sales teams cringe when they hear about training because they automatically think about the time it will take them away from doing their job, generating revenue, and results for the business. However if companies are going to survive their competition they need to make sure their sales professionals are smarter and can effectively communicate the value proposition of their products and convert opportunities as quickly as possible. shutterstock_256134292

There isn’t a company out there, big or small, that does not face the pressures and complexity of the market.  With start-ups backed by Silicon Valley investors and the revolution of SaaS-based solutions, SAP was faced with serious decisions about their strategy. SAP, a German multinational software corporation that develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations, has revenues of more than $1 billion and 75,000 employees. The company was in great danger as emerging SaaS-based providers were entering the market and offering flexible solutions and pricing.

As a result, about five years ago SAP’s executive board demanded a drastic change in how the sales organization offered their solutions and engaged their customers. I was excited to interview SAP’s team recently on HCMx Radio about the program (Download Executive Interview).  I also enjoyed gaining in-depth insights about the program when Rainer Stern, the Global Vice President for Sales Acceleration, attended our Excellence Conference in January.

The Challenger Model instilled in their sales team the following:

  • Teach the customer something new that he/she doesn’t know.
  • Tailor the message to the customer in his/her particular industry.
  • Use constructive tension – do something that may be uncomfortable — to challenge the customer.
  • Take control of the sales cycle.

The sales training and performance program offered many unique and innovative approaches to SAP’s sales leadership and product team. The new model presented refreshing and sustainable ways to help account executives meet (and exceed) customer needs, create new opportunities, and close deals. SAP completely transformed the way it supported and developed sales executives and managers by providing coaching that was relevant, solved problems and drove business results.

SAP’s team received a Brandon Hall Group Gold Excellence Award for Best Program for Sales Training and Performance in 2015 (Download Case Study). The initiative was led by Stern, a 21-year veteran sales leader at SAP, and supported and developed by Ralf Wagner, Chief Program Manager at SAP, and Stefan Funk, Head of Promotional Excellence for GCO University Programs at SAP.

To listen to our interview, you can download the podcast anytime at the HCMx Radio site.

                           –Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group


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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.