Technology is rapidly transforming the sales function. In this podcast episode, Chris Klayko, managing director of Google Cloud Americas & Global EDU, and Dave Spencer, former chief operating officer of SAP North America, discuss the evolution of the customer buying journey in the digital era and how technology can empower organizations to drive better outcomes.
Gary Tubridy: Hello, this is Gary Tubridy, senior vice president at the Alexander Group, and I’m here today with Chris Klayko, the managing director of Google Cloud Americas, and Dave Spencer, the chief operating officer of SAP North America. Chris and Dave will be teaming at the Alexander Group’s annual Executive Forum in November, where we’ll explore the rise of the revenue leader, which is how sales leaders are increasingly called upon to build and run the revenue engine for their companies. On November 8th, they’ll deliver a powerful teamed-up keynote address, the next chapter of digital sales and revenue growth. Technology is rapidly transforming the sales function. Chris and Dave will discuss the evolution of the customer buying journey in the digital era and how technology can empower sales organizations to drive better outcomes. Today, we get a sneak preview of their important topics. So, Chris, Dave, thanks for being with me.
Chris Klayko: Great to join you, Gary.
Dave Spencer: Yeah, absolutely. Gary, great to join you.
Gary Tubridy: Thank you for carving some time, and let’s get to some questions here. So your companies bring deep expertise in different but related areas. SAP and managing data and Google and analytics and artificial intelligence. What new capabilities, services and value does this partnership enable you to bring to your customers?
Dave Spencer: We’re excited about this partnership. Between Google and SAP, we’ve always been known for really the system of record, and this partnership allows us to really help our customers get to the intelligent enterprise. It’s a real, exciting time in the world, especially because of technology. And now when you think of what sales leaders have to be able to predict in the future, this partnership is made perfectly for where sales leaders and companies are going in the future.
Chris Klayko: Yeah, I would agree, Dave. That’s well said. One thing that I would add is, you know, as we look at SAP being that system of record, it is the main artery of many organizations and there is just a massive amount of data that they sit on as a result. And so by applying some of Google’s machine learning capabilities to that, we can find new insights faster and allow organizations to be far more agile in every element, but specifically for this call sales and being able to find those insights into their customer base faster.
Gary Tubridy: Intelligent enterprise. Could you guys comment on what that means to you in this context?
Chris Klayko: When we look at the role of data and you know, everyone has been collecting data for large periods of time, the challenge has been it always seems to be one query behind on that data. What we’re bringing together is large data sets from SAP married and coupled with Google’s rich ML capabilities, thus finding kind of predictive outcomes and insights. And so that ability to surface the right data at the right time really leads to that “intelligent enterprise.” Said a different way that system of record becomes a system of intelligence.
Dave Spencer: I think when you then combine that in the sales organization, Chris and I both have led pretty sizable sales organizations. And you know, you always hear, well, that person’s got happy years or you know my gut says. And I think now when you combine the intelligent platform behind this, it’s not just an individual’s gut. You’re able to take data, you’re able to predict, and you’re really able to put facts behind what that feeling may have been or shouldn’t have been. And so I just think in sales leaders mind, when we have this partnership and when we’re able to deliver on what this future looks like, you know, a lot of the happy years go away. A lot of the Hey, this is my gut. You know, you’re able to pull in third-party data, you’re able to take the data out of an SAP system, you can combine it with the analytics as well as the predictive side of what Google provides. And a lot of that gut feel goes away and things are now based on facts which allow you to be more agile, which allow you to be more creative.
Gary Tubridy: You know, there is talk of the marriage of the science and the art of sales. This seems to enable that marriage to actually take place and be a happy one.
Chris Klayko: I mean, it really does. Let me give you a real-world example for a second. At Google, we have virtually every company that buys our technology starts with a trial, and so we have literally thousands of trials going at any given time. And historically, we would always wait for about three to four weeks into a trial where we would have enough data points that we would feel that, hey, this is a good prospect. And so our team would then reach out at that point. With the applying of machine learning to the data set of trials that we have, we can look at the correlations and early indicators and we’ve taken that three-week lag down to four days with the same level of accuracy. So where you’d have to wait three weeks to call someone now we wait four days. And that’s just a simple example of how some of these insights and predictive capabilities can change an organization’s ability to react.
Gary Tubridy: Let’s build on that. You hear a lot about the need transform to take advantage of the digital environment. A broad question to you all is how does your partnership help your customers get into this digital transformation to leverage the digital technology in a way that’s going to help them run their business better?
Dave Spencer: Hey, Chris, I’m going to give Google a plug on this one. I had an opportunity to see the video around your digital assistant that was recently launched. And really, what it is is a digital assistant that understands language, slang, and it sounds like a real person. You’ve got to see the video to actually experience it. So I look at that and now look at how SAP processes a transaction. And just think of an accounts payable clerk, right, that needs to make a phone call to find out where a payment is. That may be a team of people today that could be a digital assistant in the future, coming out of an SAP transaction. When I saw the video for the digital assistant, I just saw so many applications that you can now incorporate into SAP transactions, really changing the game and allowing our customers to really focus in on their business.
Chris Klayko: That is a very eye-opening demo because it shows the future and what’s possible. But if you think about what’s underlying that demo, what we’re looking to do is take highly repetitive tasks or transactions and automate them with the use of machine learning and AI. And I think if you take a step back from an SAP Google standpoint, SAP owns some very large percentage of the world’s transactions, and they own highly repetitive tasks within organizations. And if we can apply some machine learning to that to automate and candidly predict and bring those insights up, everyone wins at the end of the day on that front.
Gary Tubridy: Listening to the terms that are being used, you hear terms like salespeople who traditionally were pretty good at fielding opportunities and taking orders and responding to those opportunities to now being in a position to reach out and bring insights to their customers about things their customers can do with their products and services that will help them run their business better. So when you start talking about that, indeed, it puts the salesforce in a very different position. It transforms the role of the sales organization. I wonder if you guys might comment on how you see the role of sales in fact being transformed by having all of this power at their fingertips.
Chris Klayko: Our job is less about being somebody that facilitates a transaction and more about somebody that facilitates a transformation. And you can only do that if you have those unique insights. You have the data sets that drive to that North Star that you’re going. It becomes a much more sophisticated salesforce at the end of the day.
Gary Tubridy: The term sophistication is a very interesting one. When you think about there are three words that were used: the speed that we have to move, the agility the ability to change course rapidly and the insight that sellers must bring to the table. Indeed, that that does call for a degree of sophistication that salesforces have even a few years ago, may not have been steeped in. Chris Klayko. Dave Spencer. The Google/SAP partnership is a brilliant opportunity. It sounds terribly exciting, and we are really looking forward to learning more about it in November this year. So, ladies and gentlemen, listening to this podcast November 7th through 9th at the Ritz in Naples, Florida. If you’ll join us there. And Chris, Dave, thank you for joining me here today, and we’re going to have a great time when we get together in Naples in a few months. Thank you, gentlemen.
Dave Spencer: Sounds great. Thanks, Gary.