Focus on speed, agility and transformation to maximize business outcomes

Social Business Manager, IBM

“We’re all in sales, right? It actually doesn’t matter what it says on our business cards.” —Mark Jeffries, author and speaker

Mark Jeffries, Alan Chapman and the other featured Sales Performance Management keynote presenters at IBM Vision 2015 shared valuable insights that apply to nearly any line of business. Several important takeaways from this presentation can be applied to today’s organizations, regardless of industry or department. Chief among these insights is the need to focus on speed, agility, transformation and constant selling. kicked off the keynote with a story from Tony Hsieh, the chief executive officer (CEO) at Zappos, which is a well-known online shoe and clothing retailer. The story illustrates one of the core points from the keynote: the selling never stops.

Zappos gets inundated with applicants whenever it posts new job opportunities. The organization has a specific hiring process to select among top candidates for open positions. The final candidates are then flown out to Las Vegas, Nevada at Zappos’ expense for an interview.

The candidates are all told to meet at a central location at McCarran International Airport. Someone shows up with a “Zappos” sign, takes the candidates to a shuttle bus and drives them to the Zappos campus. The bus driver then gives the candidates directions to a conference room, where they all take a seat and wait to meet the company’s head of human resources (HR). To the candidates’ surprise when the head of HR walks in, the head of HR is the bus driver.

The interview for the job actually started on the bus. As soon as the bus driver/head of HR walks in, he immediately dismisses several of the candidates and tells them that their interviews are over. The selling never stops.

Why did Jeffries begin with this particular story? He wanted the audience to understand that the sales function is relevant to all of us, regardless of which department we are in—and even when it comes to selling ourselves for a job. After his opening keynote comments, Jeffries brought Chapman, Director of Sales Performance Management at IBM, onto the stage to discuss the changes and challenges that sales teams are facing. Chapman also discussed the technologies that sales teams are utilizing to make the best use of growing data volumes. He said that the most profound change for Sales Performance Management during the past few years was employees having to face increased pressure for speed, agility and transformation of the organization.

This change should come as no surprise to those in the financial services industries. Organizations in banking, insurance and wealth management continually face challenges that require ongoing transformation. For example, banks are challenged by disruptive technologies such as Bitcoin, mobile payments and increased customer demands for personalization and speed.

In his recent article in The Financial Brand, “7 Habits of a Highly Successful Digital Bank,” Roberto Ferrari lays out a way for banks to sustain growth and encourage agile transformation. The inspiration for the article is the widely read book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey.

Habit number seven, strive for a faster innovation planning cycle, was the standout habit in Chapman’s presentation during the IBM Vision 2015 keynote. Organizations are regularly faced with challenges that call into question legacy processes. Are they doing things in the most efficient and the most cost-effective ways? By improving existing processes and implementing new ones that fit the needs of the business, banks and other organizations have the opportunity to increase revenue and gain a competitive advantage. The key differentiator that businesses must remember is agility. Ferrari emphasizes this point in his description of habit seven for a highly successful digital bank:

The seven habits book end with a discussion around the capacity to continuously improve, balancing and renewing resources for long-term well being. Successful banks in the digital world need to do the same… striving for continuous improvement and renewal. In order to do so, organizations need to get much faster in the way they learn, act and react.

Experience the full keynote, and see Chapman’s interview for theCUBE. 

Learn more about sales performance management in the engaging ebook, Sales Performance Management (SPM) for Dummies.