Jim Walsh, SVP, Global Enterprise Sales, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Gary Tubridy: This is Gary Tubridy, senior vice president with the Alexander Group, and I am here with Jim Walsh, senior vice president of the Global Enterprise Segment at Cisco. Jim, welcome.
Jim Walsh: Gary, thanks, great to be here. I appreciate it.
GT: Thank you for joining us. You have got a phrase that you are using in your keynote. We will call it improved buying through transformed selling. Tell me a little bit more about how you came up with that?
JW: I think it is indicative of what we are really trying to accomplish. First, it puts the customer at the center of everything. Many of our sales organizations grew up in an efficient manner. It was about how do we get our product out, and how do we turn that product to a mass market product and drive the productivity that way. The reality is, in today’s complex world, we really have to put the customer at the center of everything we do. We have got to improve the experience that the customer is having with our technology. The true litmus test for us is, if that customer believes that our company has been built just to go to market for them, then we know that we are successful.
GT: This customer that we are talking about, it is not always the same customer that you dealt with five, six, seven years ago. There was an IT customer and still is, but there are other customers that are involved as well. Tell me about how that works? Who are these customers and what do they want?
JW: I love that you say that. What you said is, they are still an IT customer. The reality of our situation is that is always going to be our customer. That is the CIO and their organization, and we are never going to give that up. The reality is, they are getting less budget every year. Part of the reason for that is because they are giving more money directly to the lines of business, to go and digitally transform the business they are in. That is because of the pressure that is on all of our customers, as people are disrupting the markets using technology to do that. For our teams, we now have to go out and help those line of business leaders. We have to go help the people that build the factories, that run the factories for these organizations. Those are people that we never had relationships with. Now, those are primary relationships that we have to hold. We try to make sure that we are relevant, by using technology to help them get to their digital transformation goals, but we are bringing the IT organization with us. We actually believe that everyone doing this together is really where the magic happens.
GT: You are not picking winners and losers, you are making everybody a winner. How has this changed the sales organization in terms of who they are and what they need to bring to the table?
JW: Our salespeople have to know their technology. We are a technology company, and that is the basics. In addition, we have got to make sure our people know a couple of more things, now. They have to understand the industry that they are selling into. They have to understand the competitive position of the account that they are covering, within that industry and how are they trying to use technology as a differentiation strategy. They also need to have financial acumen because it is not good enough to just talk about technology and how technology might change the business we actually have to guarantee our customer that outcome. That financial acumen comes in there so that we can show people not only if you use this technology, this is the outcome you will get, but we can actually guarantee that outcome. They really need to be consultants in the true sense of the word.
GT: Yes. What kind of results are you getting from this transformation?
JW: Everything really is about the user experience. Obviously, the way we measure ourselves is two-fold. We know we are getting this right when our customer satisfaction scores are improving. The other way we measure our success is are we gaining wallet share. That simply says that our technology is resonating, our outcomes are real, and we are easier to do business with than others. That is really how we measure that. Finally, what we are seeing, is some of our largest projects now, are these transformational projects, where we are using technology to do something different with a line of business. This is all about digital transformation. That is why Cisco has to transform. We have to help our customers transform, and the way that we were aligned, which was very efficient for us as a company, may not have been the right way to be aligned to the way that a customer wanted to see things, and wanted to consume our technology. We help our customers compete and differentiate themselves in the marketplace that they are in. It is a very challenging world for our customers out there. We as an organization, and we as an industry, we just have to do better for our customers, quite frankly. They really need our help right now.
GT: Yes. In this complex world, Jim, how has this changed the role of the sales leader?
JW: I love that you say sales leader, Gary. Sometimes we get into sales managers, and I would like to tell our organization, I do not really need any sales managers. From my perspective, you are a sales leader, because you are supposed to be the best at doing this, the best at helping customers. The best at knowing what our technology does and how it can do it in a particular industry. The sales leader for our organization is someone who can roll up their sleeves, not tell the sales teams how to do something, but go show the sales teams how you actually do this transformation.
GT: Jim, great story. I am very happy to hear from you here, today. Thank you for joining us.
JW: Thank you, Gary. It was a pleasure.