Your weekly disruption
Your weekly thought-provoking exploration into building disruptive capabilities.
Caroline Waite: Discovery Driven
Following last week’s interview with David Freeman, it was a real pleasure catching up with Caroline Waite, Sales Director of Frucor Suntory on this week’s podcast. It was really refreshing listening to a leader in the field who has held senior positions on ‘both sides of the fence’.
Download the podcast on iTunes, subscribe or click to listen: Superior Sales Disruption Podcast: Episode 6
One of the key attributes ascribed to disruptors is that they play where no one else is playing. Whether you are a low-end disruptor, you will find yourself pioneering your way to a market that has yet to be defined. As a trailblazer, Caroline has held roles in Marketing, National Account Management & now as a Sales Director as one of Australia’s most progressive companies.
Download the podcast on iTunes, subscribe or click to listen: Superior Sales Disruption Podcast: Episode 6
Strength From Diversity
Living Your Passion
Joined At The Hip
There is a lot of tension between Marketing & Sales. Yet it’s a tension that can be really healthy. If you allow it to simmer, there will actually be a better result. But I think we don’t like tension. In fact we often try and avoid that tension. This forces a silo approach to the two departments. But really, all we’re doing when we’re creating this tension is just coming from different viewpoints. As salespeople, we’re coming at it thinking what our customers are going to say. As a marketer, you’re thinking about what the consumer wants. So, it’s just a different view of the same thing we’re trying to solve for. Ultimately, if you can answer all those concerns, then you can have a way better proposition. For me, one thing I’ve realized is that it’s not about a baton passing over time. I used to think that marketing were responsible for the beginning. They ‘designed’ everything and then passed it on to sales to execute. In reality it doesn’t work this way. It’s about one department being a little more responsible for thinking about why and what that idea is and then one department being more responsible thinking about how. This alignment has to be consistent from beginning to end. Marketing is still involved right up until launch and execution phase and sales are very much involved right from the beginning of the idea. So it’s not a baton change at all. It’s just about a slightly different perspective on the same conversation. I think that’s what helps to relieve tension. Needs to be intertwined from the word go so everyone feels that they’ve all got a seat at the table, and they’re all making a difference. Otherwise, you leave it too late. “I didn’t create that. I don’t know where that was. That was your baby, not ours.”
Getting The Right People On The Bus
Very much the way I lead, is about understanding that sales only exists because you want people to be selling to people they know. It is a fundamental part of the way I lead my team that I first select great people that care about making a difference. People that want to go the extra mile, always deliver a better result than the smartest person in the room or the person with the best skill set. It’s that commitment and the passion and the hustle. I often refer to it, as hustle is everything. So, picking & building a team of people who are really motivated by the same thing is important at the start. Then making sure that everything you do is about the customer. My leadership style is about trying to bring the customer as much into the business as possible, trying to motivate my team and also give them the liberty to service the customer.
Be A Problem Solver
You can only solve a problem when you know what that problem is and that takes asking more questions than talking. I was actually with a young salesperson last week and bless him; he came so prepared…he had four PowerPoint decks ready for this first meeting. “So why don’t just put those aside for now? And if we need them, we can bring them out. But why don’t we just start with some questions?” ‘Okay, sure, no problems’. We started with some fabulous open questions. We had the richest conversation & we actually ended up doing a deal in the very first meeting; about something we never would have pitched in that first call. We learned something about that customer because they had a burning platform that day that we were in a position to help solve. It was a really good example of, customer first ask questions. We’re all human beings at the end of the day.
The one that I remember quite vividly was when we moved V from soft drinks into V iced coffee. Transitioning a very strongly held brand proposition across the segment at a time when energy drinks and flavoured milk were the two fastest growing segments. We took the V brand and moved into the iced coffee segment to really try and stretch how people utilised energy. Super exciting project that was very risky. A lot of people internally thought it just couldn’t be done. “V can’t go there, and you’ll feel like a fizzy milk and, and all that sort of thing”. It really became exciting once we started engaging customers and in particular 7/11, who became our launch partner. They we’re so excited and really got behind what we were trying to do with the concept. Together we launched this amazing once off, that probably won’t be repeated again. An opportunity where we did an exclusive partnership, which has got pros and cons for sure. We really broke the mould as to what had been done before. It was new to the ice coffee segment because we added a lot of value & function that had been previously offered. We shook up the energy drink segment by expanding it beyond soft drink. From a retail execution perspective we really disrupted as we took the whole forecourt over for a month. We really invested in sampling. It was an incredible success.
We developed really new ways of working with our retail partners. We also internally realized that from the feedback, the brand was about energy delivery, and that it can be whatever you want it to be. The launch raised a lot of questions internally around brand stretch and where it could play. And where it couldn’t. So it was a great project and a really good partnership. The downside of doing anything exclusive is how you manage that with other customers and that was a really big part of the learning for us. Transparency was my number one learning and would be my advice to anyone wanting to do something like that in the future. Engage your other customers early because it does not get any better with time. Being on the front foot and talking to customers right up front made it a big difference as opposed to hiding behind it.
We don’t ever profess to be as a resourced up as somebody like Coca Cola but when it comes to a specific objective (like category planning) we will invest all our resources and time around making sure that we represent and show up just as well as they would in those circumstances. You can compete if you prioritize and just go after a couple of key areas where you really want to make a difference. The biggest thing we do different is we really do start with the customer first. So, we always come with a category-based recommendation because ultimately if the retailer is not going to make more money, you can get a win once, but you’ll never get it again. Offering a recommendation that is for the best interest of that customer that is going to see them sell more will obviously see you sell more. So starting that way around with the conversation gets us a foot in the door that some of our competitors don’t get because they know that they’ll come in kind of pushing their cart a little bit harder, and maybe not recommending something that benefits the bigger picture.
I believe we’re here to make a difference and not to save the world, but to actually make an impact to make something different tomorrow than it was the day before. My purpose is about changing, having an influence, creating some course of change because of your actions or your perspective. And that’s really why I do what I do and helps me to really define what roles I’m in and what experiences I have. If I’m not in a position where I can make some change, then I don’t find the time to have the value for it. Making an impact is a really big part of my why.
Lastly it is about making the jump. There were some decisions I didn’t make because I was nervous that I wasn’t ready, or that I didn’t have all the skills that it would take to give it a shot. I’ve missed out on those experiences because you learn the most when you step outside of your comfort zone, it’s a bit of a cliché, yet it’s so true. The biggest challenges I’ve had, coming from marketing to sales or, going overseas and not knowing anyone, that’s when you really learn and you really have the best positive experiences on the other side.
With a lot of the young people that I work with; I’m seeing increasing amounts of anxiety & depression, which leads to self-doubt. It’s really, really sad that people are putting those limitations on their opportunities because when you are uncomfortable, when you feel sad, when you are going through these tough times, pushing through them is what makes us amazing human beings. So my advice would be relax, don’t worry about what other people think so much and just jump.
So many great takeaways from this conversation. Listen to the episode in the player below, or download, subscribe and enjoy it on iTunes.
Download the podcast on iTunes or click to listen: Superior Sales Disruption Podcast – Episode 5
If you want your Sales team to Gamify it’s performance please contact us at http://www.superiorsales.com.au/contact-us/
Next week we are going to delve deeper into the elements of Creating The Game.
If you are looking at running a Sales Game workshop either email Mark at email@example.com OR dig for more information at http://www.superiorsales.com.au/storytelling/workshops/
At Superior Sales we build programmes leveraging all the core drivers of capability – organisation, people, process and culture, not just skills. Refer to our white paper at http://www.superiorsales.com.au/storytelling/whitepaper/
At Superior Sales our capability experts work extensively with companies to equip sales teams, and indeed the whole organisation, to deliver a better customer experience. Please get in touch at http://www.superiorsales.com.au/contact-us/
Your weekly disruption.
Register your details to receive your weekly thought-provoking exploration into building disruptive capabilities, Straight into your inbox.