Tom Isett, General Manager, GE BioProcess and Senior Advisor, Popper and Co.,
Keynote Topic: Rethinking Your Sales Message…and Your Strategy Execution
Gary Tubridy: I am with Tom Isett, General Manager of GE BioProcess. Tom, welcome to the Forum. Thanks for joining us.
Tom Isett: Thanks for having me.
GT: Great to have you.
TI: Great to be here.
GT: Tell us a little bit about the business at GE BioProcess and the kind of customers you serve.
TI: It is a great and dynamic customer base. Our clients are those make that make biopharmaceuticals for diseases, chronic ones, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and even some novel and rare diseases. These are all sorts of therapies that have made the news here recently, even things including stem cell therapies for all sorts of treatments, skeletal, muscular and some of the rest. Our clients can be big, well known biopharmaceutical companies that show up in advertisements on the television and small biotech startups.
GT: You have said that you want your sales force not to sell things, but to wrap some of the GE know how around those things to bring something much bigger to those kinds of customers. Could you expand on that?
TI: We are now interacting at a high level with the COOs and the CEOs and the rest only because we felt that we could help them make choices around their manufacturing processes, basically set manufacturing strategy if you will that would allow them to reduce risk, or to more safely and effectively expand manufacturing capacity or reduce costs or enable a molecule to be produced that otherwise could not be using older technologies. We gave them insights into how to produce their products on a global basis while handling a lot of the risk. We are really about helping them with manufacturing strategies and then giving them pathways to execute them.
GT: Do you provide any form of support behind the scenes or perhaps even in front of the customer to help them deliver that kind of value?
TI: Yes, we sure do. We have our sellers that carry our messaging and we are doing a better and better job of that every day. They are fantastic at that. There is technical expertise that we require as well. We do have field based application scientists that will be there to help our sellers with deep technical questions that may come at any point in the sales process. In addition to that, because we are in an operations field, there is confidence that one needs to inspire that after our sellers and our scientists and our engineers have sold the products, are we going to be able to deliver? Operationally we have a group and we base it off of the sales and operations planning process that most companies deploy internally. Our folks in our operations group, not only do demand translation to our internal operations team for production, so that we can supply our customers, but we have taken it a step further and actually turned it inside out so that that group also interacts on a regular basis and does twelve month rolling forecast with our customers. Helps them, our customers, evaluate safety stock strategies, inventory strategies and the like, so they is a lot of operational and technical support for our sales team.
GT: When you build a sales capability like that, usually one of the things that happens is, you move from more compact sales cycles to more elongated, bigger wins over perhaps a longer period of time. Has that been the case with you, and if so, how do you reflect that in how you measure performance of sellers?
TI: Yes. It is interesting, our sales cycle typically for the products is twelve to eighteen months. You are absolutely right in that regard. As we have looked at bonding, right, and getting into manufacturing strategies and doing or having greater relationships and deeper relationships with our customers, it has extended the sales cycle. There is a lot of complexity there to it. One of the things that we have done being mindful of that, is try to look to reduce the sales cycle through operating mechanisms that bring attention early in the process, as early as we possibly can such that our management teams can get together with our sellers, understand the opportunity, run financials and most importantly, identify roadblocks that our sellers may be facing because we are a large, complex matrix organization like many, and how do we get that cross functional interaction to run smoothly so that our sellers can deliver behind what they are promising. We have special operating mechanisms to address that and to help them.
GT: Have you at GE BioProcess achieved at the end of the day, the numbers you wanted to achieve by installing this new approach to selling.
TI: We have been really happy with the results and granted we have a long way to go still. In the first year as we got into our solutions selling and improving that. Before we quite got to the insight led of selling, we had double digit increases on a pretty large business. We were really pleased with that, it was about 14-percent. What we are really most excited about now is that here, now that we have gone to an insight led approach and we are talking more about selling, in addition to products, which we are still happy to sell individually as the case may be and warrant, we are really excited about selling manufacturing strategies and solutions there in addition to the entire business now growing so far year to date 17-percent versus prior year, we have seen enormous growth in the category that we are describing as complete solutions.
GT: Tom, congratulations and thanks for joining us.
TI: Thank you Gary.