Fred Chauvire, EMEA Mid-Market Vice President manages a team of 175 people, including 20 managers. As part of the SuccessFactors Seek & Keep campaign – I interviewed the man himself to get his gritty insight on engaging people while staying strategically focused.
Q1. What do you enjoy most about your role?
Firstly, I enjoy the tangibility of building strategies to maximize sales performance by combining strong data analytics and customer feedback. However in order to achieve that, I need to adapt to each of my manager’s leadership style and understand how I can enable them to reach their and their team’s potential. I also need to support them with their achievement of day-to-day tasks and employee challenges. There is huge intrinsic satisfaction from seeing effective strategic planning flourish.
Also, to be successful and keep our competitive advantage in technology sales which is evolving at an extremely fast pace, we need to foster an innovative way of operating & managing. For example, this year we are introducing “Serious Gaming” in our enablement strategy to give our employees the ability to develop their engagement & listening skills faster by practicing in a fun & interactive environment.
Q2. What is the trick to “managing managers”?
Managing sales managers is about understanding each persons’ strengths and recognising the areas which need development. They have a complex role where many different skills are needed to lead by example and be successful. Sales managers often have very strong personalities..! When their passion is channeled, amazing things can happen.
Above all, it is about communicating the right strategic message – and to do that, collecting and analyzing the right data is one of the most important aspects of my role. Everything else follows suit after that!
Q3. What do you find most challenging about managing managers?
The business is constantly evolving, priorities change and we need to quickly adapt on a continuous basis. This can be a big ask of the managers. It can also be challenging to manage perception versus reality. For example, quarter-end can be a stressful time for managers, however they cannot allow that stress to be visible to their team. They may be feeling the pressure but a vital part of their role is remaining calm for the sake of their team morale.
Q4. I know from experience that you put a huge emphasis on the recruitment of the right people. What is the trick to attracting top talent?
At the beginning of my career, I though recruitment was an art. Many mistakes later, I realize that it is a science!
As the technology sales role is always evolving, we are experiencing a talent shortage of potential candidates. It means that you need a rigorous recruitment process in place allowing you to identify talent outside of the traditional “clone” of targeting your competitor’s sales force. To do that, we need to leverage social media and increase the size of the population we target. Personally, my objective is to identify people with the right behaviours rather than people with the right skills. Skills can be acquired easily and today’s skills will be different to those needed tomorrow. I am always looking for 3 attributes: personal drive, learning and coaching ability and business acumen. Finally, it is important to foster gender and social diversity.
Q5. What has been your toughest lesson when it comes to recruitment?
Hiring under pressure and thus compromising on quality – it always ends badly! I would rather lose the headcount, than hire someone with the wrong behaviours.
Q6. How do you currently identify gaps between your people strategy & business strategy?
The starting point is always identifying the business strategy. Once we have defined what we want to achieve, I look at the competencies that are needed to achieve that. For example, two years ago we decided to become a prime sales organisation working hand-in-hand with our partner network… but without field sales. To achieve this business objective by Q1 2015, we had to firstly communicate the objective to the employees, then proceed to up-skill our current inside sales team and raise the level of experience of our sales leaders. The change in our go-to-market has meant that we now hire managers with a strong field sales background. This enables us to be more relevant with coaching their team, engaging with customer CEO’s and building transformation plans to digitalise their customer business strategy
Q7. How do you currently engage your people in the direction of the company?
We constantly have to think forward and assess the technology market for new ways of driving performance and satisfying customers. 2017 is on my mind right now, I know what I would like my roadmap to look like but how can I start already bringing the team on the journey with me?
Right now, we try to make our approach is about the WOW-factor: creative strategic messaging (in our virtual studio for example, or on JAM), exposure to global alignment, and of course encouraging people to contribute to SAP’s success. This year for example, we started rewarding our sales executives on their SSI score on social media, or when they executed their own unique customer campaigns. This global recognition and creative autonomy empowers the inside sales team to become the entrepreneurs we need them to be.
Furthermore, we encourage an open forum of communication – right up to board level! We have an “executive sponsorship” approach to projects so that the sales executives know that we are collaborating with them in order for them to be successful. We have also improved on our Onboarding processes and Succession Planning so that they can be effective in the present as well as having the “career sat nav” in their vision. We have used a “ninja methodology” for this as well as our HCM self-service tool.
I am curious if any other VP’s relate to these challenges & strategies. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KelzJP.