Katherine Tate is the chief business operations officer for Quest Software – an enterprise IT software company. They are helping customers manage through their digital transformation journey. Quest Software provides the tools and the systems to help customers transverse that journey.
Katherine joined an impressive lineup of speakers at the 2018 Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum and was part of a keynote panel on the Courage to Change. Katherine shared some insights in this executive interview with Gary Tubridy of the Alexander Group.
Gary Tubridy: Hello. Gary Tubridy here, senior vice president with the Alexander Group, here at the 2018 Chief Sales Executive Forum. I’m here with Katherine Tate, chief business operations officer at Quest Software. Katherine, welcome.
KT: Thank you very much, Gary.
GT: Thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate your being here. Tell me a little bit about Quest Software and describe your role as the chief business operations officer.
KT: So at Quest, we are organized in business units, and so from the solutions that we’re providing to our customers, we provide a direct line of sight for each of our business units, and so they have everything from engineering to product marketing, the sales organization support. And then from a business operation standpoint is what my team is doing, is really enabling that sales organization and the selling process across all five business units.
So it allows to really look at where can have a common operating model, common systems, common processes, but then also serve the unique needs of each business as they have their unique go to market strategies.
GT: The customers are changing. They have information about businesses they’re demanding. So sales forces are changing to respond to all of that. Tell me a little bit about how the Quest sales force is evolving and what you’re doing to help enable them to step up and meet the challenge of these new buyers.
KT: In each of those business units they have their own go to market strategy, so in some case it might be a high touch, personal relationship, long sales cycle, and so that sales team and those sales motions are going to be different from a different position which may high transaction, more channel-centric model.
Each of those business units is really trying to structure their sales teams to serve the needs of their customers as they route the market, and then from a business operations standpoint, we’re trying to enable that.
It’s really looking at all those things around enablement of how do we make sure that our sellers have the right selling skills, they have access to the right solution, information around what they’re selling, but also really how to have those conversations with their customers based on the solutions and the markets they’re serving.
We’re also looking at how do we provide better insights to our customers because customers are demanding that. I mean, they’ve become conditioned by Amazon and Netflix around recommendations and as soon as you’re on a website, you should know what I want, and so we want to be able to provide additional insights to our sellers about these customers so that they can have a more informed conversation.
GT: Is there a role for working with marketing and that?
KT: Absolutely. So it’s really that whole customer experience. And as we know, much of the decision process actually happens before they have a conversation with a seller because customers are doing their own research on the websites, going out to third-party vendors to understand Forrester, etcetera.
What we want to do is just make sure that we’re capturing that data and then we’re serving it up to our sales teams in a way that they can consume it. It’s hard though because you’re trying to get real-time data and serve it up. You have to be able to figure out those algorithms, figure out that methodology, and then serve it up to a sales rep just in time so that they can have those conversations in an informed way.
GT: Wow. What about the flip side of the equation, after the sale? Is there a role for business operations in working with the service or success of an organization to make sure what we promised actually comes true?
KT: Again, yes. I mean, from a Quest standpoint, we’re really starting to look at that whole customer journey and that whole customer experience, from the time that they first find us to the selling process and how they transact and interact with us from when they’re purchasing the software.
But then as they had that transaction, as they buy the solution from us, we want to be able to make sure that they’re adopting that, that they’re engaged in it, that they have the appropriate training, they have the appropriate implementation, whether it’s through us or our partners.
From a service standpoint, we’re always looking at how can we better enable our customers to be successful, and research would show that particularly in a subscription model or a SaaS model that that renewal is won or lost in the first 30 days after the sale.
If you can’t engage that customer within that first 30 days and get them adopting and understanding and implementing your software, then you’re likely not going to get that renewal.
You not only want the customer to utilize and renew your solution, but you want to be able to expose them to other solutions that would be beneficial to their organization. You want them to upgrade their software, right. You don’t want them to stay in what they bought. They need to be able to take advantage of the additional features and functionality and additional components, you know, that cross-sell as well.
GT: What enablement initiatives are you working on for 2019?
KT: Enablement initiatives would be probably three different areas. One of them is really extending that conversation of how can enable our sales reps to have a more informed conversation with their customers and their prospects.
Secondly, would be enablement really around our sales managers, so we are realizing that we need sales managers to reinforce and coach and often they’re not trained to do that.
And then the third one is just really the just in time information. So how do make sure that we have information around messaging, around the customers, available, in the tools, whether it’s sales force or via a portal, that our sales reps can get at that information when they need it.
But you have to be able to get that in front of them. And then they also have to understand how do I use that data? You can give it to them, but how do they incorporate that into the conversation.
GT: Very nice Katherine. Thank you so much for being here, for going us.
KT: Thanks Gary.
GT: Appreciate it.
KT: Yeah. My pleasure.