Over a 12-year period, Cisco has experienced three stages of transformative selling. Keynote speaker Jim Walsh, SVP, Global Enterprise Sales at Cisco, explained the purpose, process and results of each of those stages at the 2017 Chief Sales Executive Forum.

Stage 1: Reconnaissance

Cisco recognized an opportunity to better align with the customer. Realizing this opportunity would require significant changes to the organization, including the elimination of landed bookings dependence, global consistency of approach and a better understanding of how customers consume versus how Cisco sells. The result was the creation of the client director role. This role has cross-functional leadership and global awareness/understanding. As a final decision-maker and customer advocate, the client director’s role aligns with customer objectives.

The initial changes drove improved customer satisfaction scores and increased wallet share. The new client director’s brand and expectations were clearly established. However, they needed to get to the customer “yes” faster, lacked critical mass for faster transformation and required dedicated leadership for better focus.

Stage 2: Invasion

Stage 2 centered on the global enterprise theater. The transformation velocity increased and created critical mass to drive internal processes. With the global enterprise as a focus, Cisco wanted to incorporate accounts headquartered outside the U.S. and protect the transformational account model from the “bigger Cisco.”

Customer satisfaction and wallet share continued to increase. But as with stage 1, there were lessons learned. A perception of haves and have nots developed within the sales organization and resentment built within countries.

Stage 3: Occupation

In the final stage of transformation, Cisco infused global awareness and knowledge into major countries. The company maintained consistency, accountability and vertical focus through industry work groups. Leadership spread an inbound account resource model to over 100 global accounts.

This model included a headquarters account team and an Americas inbound organization. Also, Cisco created a new role, client executive, to more broadly scale the client director to an account–based role.

Attendee Takeaways

Jim noted that transformational selling can deliver significant benefits to the organization, including the ability to reach new buyers, deliver new value and improve effectiveness, while increasing efficiency.

He summed up some important lessons learned from the Cisco experience:

  • Customer centricity is the key to transformative selling
  • Transformation is a journey
  • One person must be in charge
  • Early stage efforts must be protected

We look forward to sharing more keynote presentations from the 2017 CSE Forum in the coming weeks. Don’t miss the 2018 CSE Forum Series–registration is now open. Reserve your spot today!


Insight type: Article

Industry: Cross-Industry

Role: C-Suite, Sales and Marketing Leadership

Topic: Events, Sales Transformation

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