Tony Pante, COO of Commercial Sales for SAP, has witnessed firsthand the evolution of his organization over the last decade. The ‘move to the cloud’ has transformed SAP from an on-premise ERP giant towards a provider of cloud solutions (Software-as-a-Service) for supply chain, eBusiness, HR, analytics in addition to ERP. The SaaS model has made SAP available to a much larger group of companies, including medium-sized businesses that want to innovate at light speed.
To effectively sell cloud-based solutions to mid-sized companies, SAP developed a new approach called the Digital Sales Motion, with much more focus on digital and social channels for customer engagement. The new approach had to be quickly executed across a thousand person global organization, with a strong, results oriented culture.
SAP quickly identified that Leadership needed to be an essential part of this strategy. “As we were driving the transition and building out our digital teams, we recognized the most critical role in this transformation was our managers,” states Tony. “There are 100’s of managers globally that would be taking on a lot more responsibility to drive the change, and have a lot of new things to think about to grow their teams. We recognized that we weren’t doing enough to train them on how to better manage their business and how to lead their people.”
The John Maxwell Company (TJMC) Helps SAP Leaders Energize Digital Sales Motion
With strong sponsorship from the global sales leader Mark Aboud, Tony and his execution partner Shawn Robertson established a relationship with The John Maxwell Company (TJMC) and developed a plan to use TJMC programs to build new levels of leaders around the globe for the Commercial Sales team. The idea was to give leaders the tools and leadership framework they needed to make the digital sales motion a reality.
TJMC introduced a core tenant that the Commercial Sales team strongly identified with—the idea of servant leadership, where leaders intentionally look for specific opportunities to serve their team members to help them reach their potential. For the leadership foundation, the John Maxwell Company’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership was introduced over a 2-day intensive workshop, delivered to all global leaders on the team. “In the workshops, we talked extensively about gaining influence, building trust, connecting with people, and intentionally adding value to your teams (both internal and external),” explained Tony. “We also spent time on key management principles to run a sales team, including sales process and cadence and when to lead and when to manage. We received awesome feedback from the team globally. Everyone found the program very relevant, fun and impactful.
A year later, to continue the momentum, the SAP Commercial Sales team implemented The John Maxwell Company’s 5 Levels of Leadership as a framework to help expand the 21 Laws and help leaders grow thru different leadership levels. The key concepts of the 21 Laws were reinforced and expanded with the five levels and all leaders put the concepts into practice with their teams in workshops. Fast-forward to today, SAP commercial sales is continuing its servant leadership development journey by implementing the TJMC Accelerating Teamworkprogram, designed to energize high-performing teams – all with a strong foundation of the 21 Laws. To support the delivery and execution, SAP invested in a train the trainer program where key members of the team were certified in the concepts to lead the discussions.
Building Leaders Across Teams and Continents
SAP is also sharing TJMC content with their partners through customized two days programs focused on working better together. Delivered to over 100 partners so far, the goal is to add value to everyone and develop a truly integrated relationship that in turn speeds value creation to customers. The feedback from the channel team has been equally strong.
Tony and Shawn have delivered TJMC programs around the world including – Bogota Colombia, Singapore, Waldorf Germany, Barcelona Spain, Vancouver BC and Tempe Arizona. Even across diverse cultures, they feel that the programs are extremely effective due to their powerful content and application; Servant Leadership is a message that many can identify with. “I think about the person in front of me and how I can intentionally help them to get better,” Shawn stated. “What adds to the success, is that we present the programs in the context of running a business and working with partners and customers.” There are numbers you need to hit, there’s a forecast you need to drive. And here are better and proven ways to do it.”
“I got an email the other day from one of our leaders, who works in Europe speaks six languages,” Tony continued. “She’s having a phenomenal second quarter as a manager, and shared with me that she was keeping TJMC material top-of-mind as part of that success.”
Evolving the Sales Paradigm—One Quarter at a Time
Tony further explained why he feels that The John Maxwell Company programs are the right fit with SAP results-oriented philosophy and culture. “The theory of the leadership principles is strong,” he declared. “but the practical application of the techniques is what is making this very relevant for our organization.“
“What’s special about SAP is that there is significant support, and a strong desire to see people succeed, all across the organization. “It’s cool when we deliver the Leadership Program: everyone is feeding off of each other’s energy. It starts with our CEO, Bill McDermott, who is clear on defining success, what we need to do, and the expectations. The TJMC programs then fit in so well with this culture and the operating model. Add in the flexibility to keep trying new things to serve our customers, and it makes for a winning combination.”
“Simply put – as a team we need to get better—every year’” concludes Tony. “The John Maxwell Company gives us the leadership development tools to help get there.”