Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 9 months ago

Bringing Value To Customers By Listening to Understand w/ Dr. Hajo Rapp


Are you having trouble navigating the rapidly changing landscape of technology? Not sure how to adapt your methods to new expectations?

The crux of the matter comes down to analyzing your customers' behaviors and learning their pain points like the back of your hand. Listen to them. Seek understanding.

In this episode, I speak with Dr. Hajo Rapp, SVP Strategic Account Management and Sales Excellence at TÜV SÜD, about how tech and sales are changing and what to do to embrace those changes.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Digital transformation
  • Customer connections
  • Top salesperson traits  

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen Hi. Welcome to a new episode of Innovation Nation. This is your host, Jasmine Marshall Rosson. Our guest today is Dr Hi you up, who's presently the senior vice president of Global Strategic Account Management and sales excellence at to suit. Previously, he spanned every possible role with growth and Zeemens for twenty years, covering sales, account management and leadership. He also serves on the Executive Board of the Strategic Account Management Association, which is run out of Chicago, Illinois, and he is always a fountain of knowledge on trends in what people are connecting to how buying and sales practices are changing. Welcome, Doctor Wrap. Oh, justmine. Thanks for having so. Last I heard you speak get a conference. You were making an amazing case for innovation in how people approach sales. Can you tell us which shifts have taken place in the market place over the last few years? Yeah, we we see, I think, maybe two changes. The one thing is to change in the and what people what people say. So there's technology change around it. That means services change for us, for example, but also product for everyone every other in the market. And the second thing is how we sell, which is now the only channel experience that accelerated. Why our other...

...virus interruptions we had the last years, but also via just the digital technology that allows us to hear leverage more efficient interactions are communications. So we'll all talk about digital transformation and you just mentioned the digital technology. Can you delve a little bit more in detail what this really means for buyers and sellers in the marketplace? Yeah, I mean they both change the portfolio. They can deal with what but also for both of them it changes what they have to deal with and that means a broader, broader range from, on the one hand side, yeah, the classical indiaction and on the other side, the new in action. And for sales it's very much needs. You need to understand what's the information and buying behavior of your customer industry. Is the the personas in that industry, that the people you interact with, what they are, how to say to serve them best and what your strengths are in this communication. So how has the balance of power shifted as a result of this between buyers and sellers? Well, many people will tell you that the power of buyers has been growing because they have now much better chance to inform about their suppliers, that portfolio, but also personas may be on Linkedin or whatever. And I would not hundred percent agree that this is the only chance to that the chance to gain powers only on the buyer side. I think it's also on the seller side. In the end, we talk about a more complex on the channel interaction and always when you talk about complexity, the person who understands the complexity has the advantage. So therefore, I think the more educated, the more better prepared ones are the ones that have the advantage. It must not be the buyer, which is typically named as where the powers...

...going. So you just mess an understanding complexity is part of the power of understanding complexity. Being able to explain it in simpler terms, for sure. I would say to be able to explain it and with the right wording, in the right terms fitting to the channel we are using. Okay, so we you've mentioned the Word Omni Channel a few times. Most people more readily understand multi channel. How does how many channel come into the picture? Yeah, because I mean might each other on each olen means that they that you have those channels in parallel. That's not not only money, mighty tern, but they are all present all the time and therefore you have to put in parallel manage different challenge the inteaction. So, for example, for an account manager, if you manage a large account, you will see there are fire portals by your customer, there cellar ports by you company, there is a digital intellection, beat teams, the zoom whatever. There has a classical phone, maybe even health scare. You might do some fixes still and there with the classical, all the other things that there's marketing interaction. You have to care for the portals and make sure that the frame contracts are covered with in all the different channels, that all the alignments with the company have happened, and this happens at at the same time globally, twenty four hours, seven days. That's only channel. Wow, I mean that's impressive. So then, obviously the sales profession has to innovate and grow and evolved. Right. What would you counsel sales people to think about in this environment that requires to be so present at so many levels? I mean long term, for the personal development, I will tell everybody make sure that you really understand and are able to do with all this different channels. Short term, for success with...

...your customer I would tell people make sure you understand what's the information and buying behavior of your customize and where they are, and make sure that you are present and good on the channels, always having in mind what your personal sprints are. And for manager, I would even tell them think about where the springs of your people are and then think whether this fits to the buying and information behavior of customer groups and then, by that, think about who in sales to connect to which customer group. Thank you. So part of rapid digitalization that we all live with is expectation of things happening right now. Right people walk around with their cell phones sometimes, you know, even on crosswalks. I hope that's not happening in Germany as much it's reading the urgent messages on the cross walk. So that leads to an expectation of things happening super fast. How our sales to respond to that change dynamic? I wouldn't say that this is generally new to sale. So mean I'm in says now things three decades and I remember many calls I had during the weekend also thirty years ago. So that is not to be not a general challenge. Sales is always something where you have to be available for your customer when they have time, which is very often the evening, on the morning, when you talk about top level, or even in the weekend. So it's not so much of a change, yes, but there is a chance change. That's clear. First of all, I think you can serve many things by our social media and web page where you do not to act, have to act in the moment, but you are present for your customer with with those things. And the other thing, as the cell phone, this is not new to so that that's really very apt observation. EAS You've been in sales leadership roles. Obviously to succeed you have always had to be present. Right. It's not a very new thing that thanks for she too old role and says that... might be a better chance to get your customer on the phone on Friday afternoon and will be faster with decision on Friday afternoon before because people want to go to the weekend. And the other thing is that also owed that if you want to interact on high level, and Bot what level, you probably do that in the weekend because that's this is not the term with a staff read some the mate, but they do it on their own. That's not you. Excellent. Now that this is a very good observation. So you know, you're on the Executive Board of the Strategic Account Management Association in Chicago, as we mentioned. What are the key topics that you are raising awareness of now? What changes do you see? How should people innovate? We go more and more into the direction that we use the experience and the and the tools of account management also, let's say, lower and the customer permits, or we don't call that Keel Count Management, but much more account best selling this is one direction. The other one is the the the the digitalization, the Omni channel experience and what that means for the future. So we see that, I mean sales people are social people, so they like to meet others and have a beer with them or wine or a code whatever, and we see that many people also on the customers that they want to see their suppliers again. On the other side we will have a new a new, let's say, a new balance. So people in the organization learned that it's not bad if people are not over it's in the office. They can also be productive at home. So that's the second things. Where is the new the new balance? And the third is is the story of what I've started in beginning. One big change is also changing portfolio, and that means also co creating with customers innovations for their markets and maybe even joined activities to...

...introduce not new technology, speed, their hydrogen or electric cars or things like that. For a company like ours, it is the chance to give the customers trust into this new technologies, and we do this very often together with our customers. So, for example, with the the ements, we did research on how to secure a fire predicted battery production. So this is what I would call a coper relation. That's excellent. You don't hear too often about co creation with sales. Can you elaborate a little bit more? You just you were mentioning very cutting age technologies. Yeah, I mean co creation for me is not only the last step of sales, it's also positioning things together and and and by that be more that that's on the marketing site in the early stages of introducing technologies into into new technology environments, into new regional environments where it has not been happening in the beginning, and therefore just to share sheer co marketing, doing joint researchers through Enjoin Studies, White Papers and things like that opens opportunities in co creation and in and for both companies and the independent whether you then bundle the portfolios and the other products. So you're also on the advisory board on the subject of sales excellence with the springer sales excellence publishing. Are there any book titles that you would particularly recommend for our listeners? I mean, there are some at the moment, I think that is what I have to think about it hard. That's a nice book about finding the growth and that based on data and structures, but the moment we had to have would have to think about the title. There are a number of good books on a count management, but I would have the moment not have the one title that would I would suggest. Okay. So what are...

...there any personality types that would feel better the role of a salesperson today or would you be looking for in terms of being more innovative in selling in today's marketplace, I mean more and more, the good sales person is a good listener and as somebody with with an open mind, which is close together, by the way, and then it's somebody who got the connection to technology, regarding whether it's social media or whether it's the digital communication tools we have. So if you don't like to work with those, it's not so easy. But side like that, that's interesting and it's a very apt not observation that being a good listener and having an open mind go together. So any other insights that you'd like to share with us to ensure that the sales process is an innovative one? Maybe one topic it maybe is something that people are not so much aware of, and this is really we are all living in the economic worlds and what I did not mention yet as a when we think about what is in new hybrid sales model, we probably think about what is the most economic, I would sales mill model, and that means how to optimize the wanted maybe make minimize the effort of traveling on the other side, maximize the time for customer interaction and find a right way to leverage back offices. So there, for example, the inside said, the old role of inside sales, which is more the active, the reactive one. The sales guy comes on or says lady comes home, put something in tavery piece pip are and not take it to the customer to row. That's the old role and there's a new role where you say hey, you need also need that sometimes, but you also need people that take part of your interaction with the customer or part of your customer group and cares for them actively, as in time...

...internal inside sales group. So the three things turning time, customer addiction, back of his optimizing that with the right mixture of digital and personal interactions fitting to the personal and strength and the company strengths. That is, I think, the direction we all should have a look at. Is that also amplified by the impact of the pandemic will been living. So yeah, surely. I mean I've seen many organizations where some people in the management especially experience one that's called it like that. We're a bit critical on whether it's good when people on Monday and Friday, we'll get home and everybody learned now that this is a very good thing and everybody is also no, did a big step and how to use things like zoom and team and those are that's tough when is quite experienced on that and can do so, or is and can exchange and new work on billboards and all that stuff. So this helped unbelievably and also helped from with regarding the accept acceptance at the customers, and that's accelerated everything. That's gives us the freedom how to work with all this instrument terrant. But, as I said, you need to understand it. You need to now mainly the information and customer and buying behavior of your customers and your strengthen. Then you can individually look in that, into that, and it's really different whether you sell them maybe in the IT industry with people that have a totally different information behavior than maybe in healthcare, on rail or our utilities. This is something to think about. So there's not this one size fits on and the added benefit is also that of sustainability. If your cars on the road, less impact climate. Let's let's planes in the air. Yeah, and and and for sure that that is a very nice part of that development, which is really necessary, by the way. Yeah, the planet does need love and care. Any additional thoughts on how sales can drive innovation... this digit hyper digital error? I'm generally it's about thinking about the whereas the value for the customer. What are the what are the challenges of the customer? We are where do they have? Other whatever that targets and their project they have on the table, and mirroring that with the own capabilities and offerings to bring to the table and communication with the customers and digitalization technology changes, communication changes, also social media capabilities or, let's say, the usage of customers social media. Understanding all that together brings it brings it on the table. So kind of fully immersive understanding of your customers needs to be and we're always got understand the customer needs information behavior, buying behavior, and if you have then done that, you are already in the top twenty percent probably, and then then you might be a successful source person. Yeah, so don't lead with me, me, me, but lead with world really answers the customers needs. Yeah, and in closing, I also have a question. How should sales people behave on linkedin? It's such an important platform. In the end, man, what you do in linked in in the end is a private decision. The because the talk over your own presence on social media. What I do is really I try and make sure that I did twice the week, published something. Use It really something. We're build a large network and I see myself as somebody representing the company I'm working for and by that try to be friendly and open to be connected with people. On social media for me is now also more and more tool to get information about...

...customers, find new and find new insights, look into the right networks. So the answer is be active and be aware of what's will be the future. Changes spread, especially also in the interconnection of social media to other AARTICULES. So your personally modeling behavior of leading with God leadership on Linkedin and engaging with people. I do try to do my best, and Linkedin names me to be in a top proper center. I think of my Piers Group. So looks at the moment I'm not so bad in this environment. Excellent. Well, our guest today again was Dr Hire wrap, seeing your vice prison of global strategic account management and sales excellence, a to zood. Thank you for joining us, Dr Wrap. Really appreciate it. Thanks Usman was a present. Thank you, and this was your house, Jasmine Mouch, to us in. See you later. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more, subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on linked in. Thanks for listening.

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