Companies across industries are going through or preparing for a digital transformation. As part of the 2017 Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum, keynote speaker Cate Gutowski, VP, commercial digital thread at GE Digital, shared her experience of GE’s digital transformation and how the commercial digital thread was born.

GE faced a few challenges with their sellers. Salespeople had too little selling time and too much administrative work. They were experiencing tool overload, with lots of data but not enough insight. There were too many manual reporting requests, with too many internal meetings. The solution was to activate the new commercial digital thread, a connected digital ecosystem that puts the focus on customers.

Highlights from Cate’s keynote:

To Sell Digital, You Must Be Digital

Step 1: Listen to your customers, then build your digital product roadmap. Think about three pillars when designing the roadmap for your sellers: collaboration, insights and productivity.

Step 2: Build a customer data foundation. Data is the new oil. Within the data foundation, think of teams as cross-business. Organize customer lists in sales-friendly groupings. Create one master information hub, and keep data consistent with the same standards. Help your sales teams connect the dots with the insights and tools needed to fully understand the customer.

Step 3: Build new digital tools for sellers to visualize data. Make tools built by sales, for sales. Digital has to be all about the people.

Step 4: Give sales their own version of the GE Digital Assistant. Create compelling sales enablement tools. In GE’s case, the new mobile solution integrates with the CRM system, reduces time spent on admin tasks by 2-5 hours per week, increases customer meetings by over 10 percent per week, increases the calls logged into CRM by eight times the previous amount, and reduces internal meetings to two or fewer per week.

GE learned two major lessons so far in their digital transformation. Technology alone does not move the sales organization. You have to infuse purpose to activate a movement. Cate noted that transformative efforts are 84 percent more likely to be successful if integrated with purpose. Build your ‘why’ story to inspire a movement. Customers (or employees) do not buy WHAT you do; they buy into WHY you do it.

Attendee Takeaways

For companies undertaking a similar transformation, Cate offered some important considerations:

  1. Customers are changing; the sales organization must also change
  2. Sales will change more in the next three years than in the past 50
  3. Inspire a movement through purpose
  4. For results, think hours and minutes versus days and weeks
  5. Digital transformation is human transformation (people/skills, process, mindset)

We look forward to sharing more executive presentations from the 2017 CSE Forum in upcoming posts.

For more compelling stories of transformation, insights and takeaways you can use, don’t miss the 2018 CSE Forum Series – Rise of The Revenue Leader. Registration is now open. Reserve your spot today!


Insight type: Article

Industry: Technology

Role: C-Suite, Sales and Marketing Leadership

Topic: Events, Sales Transformation

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