Dave joined an impressive lineup of speakers at the 2018 Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum and gave his keynote, along with Chris Klayko of Google Cloud Americas, titled: The Next Chapter of Digital Sales & Revenue Growth. Dave shared some insights from his new role in this executive interview with Gary Tubridy of the Alexander Group.
Gary Tubridy: Hello, Gary Tubridy here. Senior vice president of the Alexander Group. We’re at the 2018 Chief Sales Executive Forum. I’m here with Dave Spencer, president of North America for BackOffice Associates. Dave, welcome. Thanks for joining us here.
Dave Spencer: My pleasure, Gary.
GT: You spent many years in SAP. You’re in BackOffice Associates now. Tell me about BackOffice Associates?
DS: You know, I was at SAP for about 12 years and had a great run. Great success. And started out as a salesperson and all the way up to North American COO on my last row. You know it got to a point where data is just so important and SAP made an investment in back office a couple years back and it gave us an opportunity, me an opportunity to take on a little bit more leadership role as President of North America for BackOffice. BackOffice is a partner of SAP. SAP resells the software, but what’s very unique about us and where we have some specialty is we take data, clean it up, harmonize it and get it ready for applications such as SAP or Work Day or others. And with the growth in the data world right now, and just how much people are really focusing on it. It’s become the new energy source for companies. I just thought that this would be a great opportunity for me.
GT: Tell me a little bit about the sales organization at BackOffice Associates? How is it structured? And who are you targeting? Who are you calling on?
DS: The target market for us is really any customer or any prospect that is starting to move to a new application. As customers go to move to a new application, they’ve got to clean up their data, harmonize it, and accelerate it into this new environment. So it’s traditionally about customers that I would say are larger, more complex. But as you talk about data even now small companies, right? As they start, there are different sources. Whether it’s structured or unstructured data. That’s really now becoming our opportunity and our go to market. But most of it is through the SAP partnership right now.
GT: From a sales point of view, the customers that, the buyers that you’re serving, who are you calling on and the value proposition is cleaning up the data. What sort of a seller does that take?
DS: So been with BackOffice for about two months now and one of the observations that I made from an environment prior to me and now is that data traditionally was in the IT area. And that’s where conversations were. But it’s now becoming part of the forefront and even there are users that run businesses that it’s a sole source for energy for their business. So traditionally, it’s been in the IT group. Traditionally, it’s been more of a project-oriented, but now it’s becoming a C-level conversation.
And the value is, how do you help somebody move faster? You think of a merger and acquisition, where they’ve got two different organizations. They are trying to harmonize a customer database. Traditionally, that may have taken years to do, right? If you can do that in weeks now through technology or a services company of which we provide as well, that helps them get their ROI faster. And, oh, by the way, you got happier customers at the end of the day.
I’ve read from some of your surveys that 94 percent of the prospects actual do research prior to engaging a salesperson.
DS: Wouldn’t it be nice if you’re a salesperson and you know what that customer’s looked at and you’ve seen data behind that that supports what they’ve bought and what they’ve looked at. That again is all coming from that data source.
GT: For those 94 percent of the customers that research your company, how do they find out about you all? And how do you make them aware of the goodness of what you’ve got to offer?
DS: Good thing is BackOffice has been around for 20+ years and we’ve had over 1200 successful projects, so the brand awareness is out there. You know, one of the challenges coming from a big company like SAP versus a smaller company like BackOffice is just brand awareness. But then the other side of this too is when the projects are being initiated, it’s a lot of your systems’ integrators so the IBMs, and the Accentures, the Deloids and EYs of the world. We need to let them be aware of the good work that we can do in this area so they can also recommend us as they go to deploy some of these projects.
GT: When you run a project, is there a service component that you work with to make sure that the client gets what we promised they were going to get?
DS: Yeah. The beauty of BackOffice. It’s a little bit of technology and it’s a lot of services. And I word it that way because, you know, when you look at a project when you look at data governance in the future, there are multiple ways to do it. You know, you can do it through spreadsheets. You can do it through access databases. You can just throw a lot of bodies at this problem. But the uniqueness of what we provide is a technology. It’s a tool. A piece of software that can be in a cloud environment. That technology allows people to take advantage of something to scale. But then you have consultants behind that to make sure that what was being sold, what a customer is seeing, can also deliver on it. And it’s done in a way that we can take the lead from a services perspective. Some of the SIs are trained on it as well. But more importantly, we can train the customers on how to use that tool to make sure that their data is clean and their data is harmonized as they go into the future.
GT: In BackOffice Associates, who is the revenue leader?
DS: What I think is unique, we’ve got a chief revenue officer and his role, he’s got a sales team but behind that, you’ve got consultants and people that are on the ground that are living inside our customer base every single day. So you have a chief revenue officer who works hand in glove with a marketing team. The brand awareness, getting it out. We also have a channel person as well, right? Who’s getting us connected in the SAP ecosystem. And the Infor ecosystem as well as the Work Days of the world, so you have a channel person as well. So yeah we have one person who has the jacket or the hat that they wear but the reality of it is, you know, there’s multiple people, consultants, channel, marketing that have to work together to make sure that we all hit our numbers.
GT: You know when you use a title like chief revenue officer, you could have chosen something like a vice president of sales. But you elevated the title a little bit. What were you hoping to gain from that?
DS: Just that. Is to elevate it, right? And it’s, one of the challenges I mentioned earlier is that these projects and we’ve really seen it more as a project oriented versus now – data is the fuel. And the energy source. But you need that consistent energy source that’s out there so we want to elevate that conversation to be at the C-level. And it takes a chief revenue officer or chief field officer, however you want to word it, to be able to engage.
GT: Data as a valuable asset to your clients means you’re calling higher at the C-level. Does that change the skill sets of the seller? Does it change how you try to enable the seller to be successful?
DS: Gary, that’s one of the things we’re going through a transformation of our teams right now and it’s being able to talk about the value that data delivers. When you have an opportunity and you call something a SKU, but the SKU is one and inside that SKU, there may be 15 items and somebody returns it and you give them a credit for 15 versus a one, that’s a major business issue and that adds up to millions of dollars for organizations and that’s what BackOffice really focuses on is the business value that organizing this and harmonizing it and cleaning it actually delivers to somebody. It’s not just project oriented, but it’s the value that comes out of this.
GT: Challenges that are coming down the road for you. You have been in the business for a couple of months. What are you up to? What initiatives are you experimenting or thinking about launching?
DS: In the last two months, we’ve made a lot of changes, reorganized our sales organization to align with our partner side of it, elevating the team in terms of the conversation. And where traditionally, we may have taken a second seat to a partner, you know, now let’s get ahead of that and bring the partner along with us.
The product may change but when you look at the blocking and tackling of sales, you got to have that foundation. But then once you have that foundation, then you can start building on it. So the future is the build and we’re doing that with using some technology on our lead generation, helping get our brand out there as well.
GT: I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m looking forward to having your keynote tomorrow. Dave.
DS: Thank you very much.
GT: Great. Thanks for joining us.