How HP Made 10,000 Reps More Productive: Process and Technology Go Hand in Hand

How, you ask? We spoke with Stuart Kerst, vice president of sales operations of the HP Enterprise group to find out.


To be successful, HP first focused on what would make the biggest impact. Each year, the company completed a sales rep satisfaction review with its team. What are they spending their time on? How are reps spending their time, and what technologies are supporting them in the field? Kerst’s challenge was to eliminate unnecessary tasks, while making the necessary ones more efficient.


Ultimately, their goal was to move from 55 percent customer-facing time to upward of 60–65 percent. A small lift of only 5–10 percent multiplied across Kerst’s team of 10,000 reps would have a huge impact on productivity. The first area he looked at was sales support.


Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI, asked Kerst a few key questions. “Was the fix mostly process work? Adding technology? Or was it a blend between process and technology automation?”


Kerst found that the two go very much hand in hand. In one example, he says, “We understood what the work flow of the CPQ [configure price quote] process was and determined we needed to drive technology and automation into our process to truly move the needle.” In effect, HP used technologies such as PROS pricing software to enable salespeople to complete self-serve quoting without going through the sales-operations organization. The result? Going from one of the industry’s worst quote turnaround times to one of the best.


They were able to translate this benefit in many ways and especially with channel partners. “When a channel partner has a poor experience with you as a vendor, and it takes four or five iterations to get through a cycle, they stop quoting you,” Kerst says. There was business out there that HP didn’t even realize they were losing. It never came their way due to their reputation of being hard to do business with.


But with new methods in place, the company was able to increase channel mind share by reducing the amount of time it takes to turn around a quote. Partners who previously didn’t quote HP were now approaching them.


Kerst and his team were also able to successfully lead one of the biggest implementations. For a sales force of their size, they have an astounding 87 percent adoption rate. How did they manage this? Quite simply, says Kerst, it was about adding value. allowed HP to increase collaboration among the different HP regions for a single customer experience across multiple continents. Again, HP became much easier to do business with on a global scale.


So, how can you have success like HP? Kerst maintains you must realize you can’t do it all. The key, he says, is to ask yourself, “What is the true impact to the business? What is the risk of doing it? What is the cost of doing it? And finally, what is the financial ROI?” Only when these align should you move forward.


Dan Perry

Intensely focused on helping sales and marketing leaders in B2B companies make their numbers at SBI.
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Dan approaches the idea of making your number from a unique perspective. Like many SBI leaders, he has walked a mile in your shoes. He comes from the industry side and has had to make his number to be successful. Perhaps this is why it’s wise to rely on SBI’s evidence-based methodologies. Though SBI is certainly an execution-based firm, Dan only implements strategies and solutions for his clients after they have been verified with before-and-after data. This leads to adoption of sales programs in the field, rather than shelf-ware.

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