Daikin – Accelerated Management Program – Sales

Accelerated Management Program – Sales


Seeking a career and not just a job?  Daikin is looking for students to join our Accelerated Management Program (AMP).  AMP can provide you with the tools you need for success within our company. On this twelve month program, you will work hands-on from the ground up and be provided with the opportunity to explore the facets of our company that could fit your personal skills and interests. Daikin’s Accelerated Management Program includes two focuses:  Branch Operations and Outside Sales Track

Branch Operations Focus

Focus your career on service oriented and relationship-based selling. You will work from the ground up to ensure you have a solid foundation of product, operational and customer knowledge to excel in your career. Parts of this track involve:

  • Counter Sales: Work face-to-face with customers while gaining product knowledge and learning our systems and processes.
  • Warehouse: Hands-on experience with our products, including shipping and receiving materials.
  • Inside/Showroom Sales: Further develop the daily skills needed to become a successful Branch leader, while building relationships with our customers and sales force.
  • Other aspects include: developing leadership skills, providing accurate pricing and inventory information, and developing and maintaining relationships

Outside Sales  Focus

Help drive business development and prospecting. You will start your fast-track training into outside sales with an actual territory in one of designated markets.

  • Managing Customer priorities: Learn the importance of meeting the customer’s demand for quick response times, on-site solutions, and on-time complete delivery. You will also focus time on learning how to manage all sales functions for existing and prospective customers.
  • Houston Training: Visit our corporate location in Houston, TX to network and build relationships with corporate leaders and other support teams.
  • Other aspects include: a focus on new business development, meeting sales goals, and building relationships with key stakeholders

The AMP will provide you with a roadmap for success and support you with mentors and formal training.  Are you ready to accelerate your career?  Apply today!


  • Bachelor’s degree in Management, Marketing, Sales, Entrepreneurial Studies (or similar)
  • Graduation Dates: May 2019
  • Must have at least a 3.0 GPA (overall and major);
  • Successful students would have the following skills: detailed oriented, leadership, team oriented, self-motivated and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Must have long term flexibility in location within the region (but national opportunities may be available as well) and be willing to relocate for career opportunity upon completion of program;
  • Must be eligible to work in the US without sponsorship now and in the future.

The Company provides equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants regardless of a person’s race, color, religion (including religious dress or grooming practices), creed, national origin (including language use restrictions), citizenship, uniform service member or veteran status, ancestry, disability, physical or mental disability (including HIV/AIDS), medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, request for protected leave, marital status, sex, pregnancy, age (over 40), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by law. The Company will comply with all federal and state regulations and statutes pertaining to individuals with disabilities.

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The Value of CRM Adoption to a Sales Leader

As our membership quarter comes to a close we are excited to be sharing the final podcast in our Sales Leader Series. Joining us is a very special guest – Bryan Bentley, the Managing Director of Sales Operations at Service Corporation International. Join our Director of Executive Education, Carl Herman, and Director of Corporate Relations, John Pingel as we discuss the value of CRM to a sales leader. 

The SEI Podcast Series: Executive Education Membership

Join us as Mr. Steve Stagner, Executive Chairman of Mattress Firm and Executive Director of the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute, Randy Webb discuss the keys to success on managing growth.


Q2 2017 Blog: Creating a Corporate Culture of Career Development


Corporate Culture & Values Based Leadership

Each company has a corporate culture – formalized or not formalized. At Hilti, our company culture was not formalized until the mid 1980s and at that time it was very much influenced by the founder, Martin Hilti and his son Michael Hilti.

Today, we simply define our culture as a Caring and Performance Oriented Culture; on one hand, as a privately held company we continue to have a family environment, while on the other we have an intrinsic relentless pursuit of excellence and outstanding results. It is the combination of these two aspects that makes the Hilti Culture unique and a competitive advantage.

This culture is supported by four core values that define the way we work and a mission statement that clearly outlines why we exist. We crystalize all of this together for our 24,000+ employees at our corporate cultural trainings that we call OCJ, Our Culture Journey.

Our Culture Journey, values based leadership, and strong performance & people development processes lead to our people being placed at the center of everything. We are constantly challenging and encouraging our employees to take risk, to have the courage to go beyond the circle of habits, and to infuse an entrepreneurial spirit by inspiring them with the freedom to act.

A well-defined, understood, and tangible corporate culture supported with values based leadership can lead to attracting, developing, and retaining talent for an organization. Directly after my undergrad from Bauer, I started with Hilti with the intention to build a long-term career with vastly global ambitions. 13 years ago, I went because of the corporate culture, today I stay because of the corporate culture!



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Have questions or need further information? Contact Frances Wheeland, fwheeland@bauer.uh.edu

Q2 2017 Blog: Taking Responsibility of Your Own Career

Taking Responsibility for Your Own Career

The staff of the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute work extremely hard each semester to place our undergraduate students into sales careers within amazing organizations all over the world.  For the last 20 years, our students have averaged 2-3 job offers before they walk across the stage at graduation.  Not too shabby, especially when you consider the fact that over 40% of U.S. undergraduates will start their careers in jobs that didn’t require a degree (https://goo.gl/HIrO2Z).  While our curriculum and the professors of the Program for Excellence in Selling are second to none, the 150 students seeking a minor in sales are the real stars.  Here’s the “raw material” we get to work with each year:

  • 46% are First Generation College Students
  • 34 GPA (average)
  • 54% are Multilingual (30% speak Spanish)
  • 13 Countries of Origin Represented
  • 73% are working while attending school
  • 63 average work experience (years)

I’ll leave the training and coaching our students receive while in our program for another article (see: selling real products, carrying real quotas), but can you imagine what that diversity in experience means to an employer?! One can understand why our students can become overwhelmed with options when it comes to deciding where to start their career (analysis paralysis anyone?).

One of my favorite responsibilities each semester is the opportunity to mentor and coach our students on career strategies.  Below is the outline I use during our conversations:

Begin with the End in Mind

In chapter 2 of the classic book,  7 Habits of Successful People, Stephen Covey encourages the reader to “…envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes.”  So many students become so dang short-sighted when trying to decide which company/industry/role to start their careers.  Our conversation goes a little something like this…Student: “I want to work for Company X!” Me: “Why?” Student: “Because it’s Company X!”  Me: “…”

In our conversations I ask the student to look into the future at least 10 years from now to the role they would like to develop into.  They need to leave specific industries and companies out of the discussion, for now.  Usually, the role ends up being some variation of high-level positions in the following: Sales, Sales Management, Product Management, Process Management, Marketing, HR, and Entrepreneur.  I ask the student to give me the top 3 roles they’d be interested in, and then walk me through what that position looks like to them.  Two criteria they need to use when ranking the potential roles:

  1. Base it on your most valuable/marketable skill sets (today and what you believe you will develop over time)
  2. What you are passionate about (developing people, creating efficiencies, etc.)

Side Note: Any of you that think following your passion should be #1, should read this article about Steve Jobs: https://www.fastcompany.com/3001441/do-steve-jobs-did-dont-follow-your-passion.

Or watch this video by Mike Rowe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVEuPmVAb8o.

Once the student has chosen which corner office with the window they want to pursue, we work backwards.  What kind of experience is necessary to get to that position, which industries are growing at a rate that will create an environment for you to be successful, what companies offer roles similar to what you want?

Date Around

Once a student has an idea of where they are going, they need to start interviewing high-level decision-makers within companies they have a relationship with.  The Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute does business with over 1000 companies a year, so our students are very fortunate in that they are able to interact with executives of Fortune 500 companies every day.  Even with this environment, they need to have the courage to engage and build relationships with these individuals, and make every conversation count.  A Vice President of Sales can walk you through every detail of your first role, and your fourth.  Better yet, that VP probably has the ability/power to get you to your fourth role, so take a shot of Red Bull and get to work!

We encourage our students to keep a rolling list of 3 companies they are currently engaging with.  Trying to engage more than three companies at one time can be overwhelming.  This process should include the following:

  • Research: Use Google News, Hoovers, Social Media, Alumni, On-Campus interactions, etc., to learn as much as possible about the company.
  • Network with Executives: Already noted
  • Interviews- Utilize the time at the end of the interview strategically by asking well-researched, specific questions about each role you would take on your way to the top, and skill sets necessary to be successful.
  • Ride-Alongs/Office Visits- Most organizations will not have a problem with potential hires riding with a current sales person AFTER the first or second interview. The student needs to use this time wisely!  Hopefully, they walk away with a clear picture of the day-to-day responsibilities, corporate culture, development/training programs available, etc.  They need to be reminded that, if they can’t do the first job well, getting the promotion will be near impossible.
  • Internships/Part-Time Jobs: Since most of our students are working their way through school, our corporate partners have responded by creating engaging internships and part-time roles with very competitive pay structures. I can’t think of a better way for an organization and a student to test each other out before making “the BIG commitment.”

I coach our students daily to follow this process with every company in their top 3.  When a company no longer meets their expectations, move them out, and place another company on the list and start the process over.

Make a Decision!

I recognize that, to date, this is probably the biggest decision a student at the University of Houston has ever had to make.  They work so hard, sacrificing so much, to get through school, they don’t want to make a bad decision.  At the end of the day, it’s still just a decision, and life is full of them.  They’ve got 2-3 job offers from amazing companies that have potential to propel them to their 10-year goal.  They have relationships with executives from each company and they’ve seen firsthand what it will take to be successful in the first job.  I encourage our students to do the following when comparing the opportunities:

  1. Give yourself a deadline to make the decision.
  2. Look at the data- what does your research say on your competitive advantage within each career path, within each company. Look at the opportunities side-by-side and let the data speak for itself.
  3. Go with your gut.

Look, the research speaks for itself.  Millennials average 2.85 jobs in their first 5 years after college (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/millennials-job-hop-more-than-previous-generations-guy-berger-ph-d-).  Now, the corporate partners of our undergraduate program have worked diligently to create opportunities and career development strategies within their organizations to ensure the student stays with their company, but we can still look at this logically.  If the student makes the wrong career decision, they have spent the last year (at least) of their college careers building relationships with decision-makers at other organizations.  They should have options.  But, research by the Sales Education Foundation has revealed that companies who recruit from undergraduate sales programs like ours experience 30% less turnover (and 50% faster ramp up!).  The student has put themselves in a position that, whichever company they choose, they will have a high probability of success.  How awesome is that?!

One Last Thought:

In an article published by our Institute in early April (https://goo.gl/lkIJvz), SEI Executive Director Randy Webb discusses the benefits of finding a mentor early in your career.  Our undergraduate program has a built in mentorship program where the students seek out a high-level executive within a company/industry they are interested in, and asks that person to walk alongside them as they go through our program.  Nothing is better than surrounding yourself with people that care about your future, whom speak openly and honestly about your future.  If you are interested in becoming a mentor, come see us.  www.bauer.uh.edu/sei


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Have questions or need further information? Contact Frances Wheeland, fwheeland@bauer.uh.edu

Q2 2017 Blog: Who Are Your Mentors & Allies?

Mentors and Allies

One of the most important resources anyone can have are allies. Why? If you are having a problem getting things done, it could be because you did not develop a big enough coalition of allies to support your idea. So, how do you develop allies? If you are in a position that controls appointments and promotions of people, they become your allies because you put them in their position. Another way is to do favors for people. Take moving for example. There is this unwritten rule that if I help you move then you will help me when it is time for me to move. There is also the norm of reciprocity, which is like doing favors, but with a longer time frame. In the first Godfather movie, there is a wonderful example. In the opening scene, the Godfather is being asked to provide justice for the daughter of a funeral director. After the Godfather agrees, the end of this scene is the Godfather putting his arm around the funeral director and saying, at some point in the future, and that day may never come, I may ask you to do a favor for me. This is reciprocity! It’s a BIG favor, with a longer time frame.

Allies can also be lost. This happens because people lose their position, have a problem with a too big of an ego, and lose touch. This is why you need to continue to develop new allies.

The three key takeaways to remember about allies are; continue to network so you can develop new allies to replace those that are lost, you will need allies to implement your ideas and fend off attacks from rivals for power, and you can never have too many.

I was fortunate in my business career to have a mentor who took a twenty-four year old kid under his wing to help navigate the political waters of our company. I can honestly say that without him I never would have been as successful as I was in my career. Everyone needs a mentor. There are three types of mentors, the company mentor, the skill mentor, and the career mentor. If you are lucky, you can find someone who might help with all three.

What should you look for in a mentor? First, ask someone you can trust. This is foremost for the relationship to work. Second, find someone who has the maturity and experience to guide you. Third, mentoring is a two-way street, you get out what you put in. Where to find one? Look to your allies first. These are a great resource to draw from. If you don’t feel comfortable with your allies, then look to your network.

Developing allies and finding a great mentor are especially important in today’s business climate. Having them can make a huge difference to your career!


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Have questions or need further information? Contact Frances Wheeland, fwheeland@bauer.uh.edu

Q1 2017 Blog: Impact of Digital Marketing on Sales Effectiveness

Organizations find themselves today in a position where seeking out organic growth is more critical to success than ever before. Organic growth stems from the ability of an organization to increase the value of current customers, create opportunities with new customers, and develop new innovative products and services to offer within the marketplace. Consider the following quote:

“Executives shouldn’t underestimate the power of organic growth. It may take more time and effort to affect a company’s size, but organic growth typically generates more value.”

  • The Economic Times, January 2017


Over the past 30 years organizations have witnessed dramatic shifts in the factors that are necessary to achieve competitive advantage. For many businesses, it is no longer sufficient to primarily seek growth through inorganic sources (i.e. mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers) or to solely focus on optimizing systems and processes to achieve greater efficiencies.

In a survey conducted in more recent years by McKinsey 86% of CFOs and 72% of other members of the C-suite indicated that growth is their biggest strategic challenge. The desire to achieve growth and the increasing need to do so through organic means is clear, but continues to challenge many organizations. The nature of this challenge can be understood within the context of the current business environment. Competition has become fiercer and more global in nature, the range of substitutable product options has continued to grow, and customers are now able to independently gain access to incredible amounts of information about an organization and its value offerings. In support of these changes consider the following findings:

  • The typical organization has on average more than double the number of competitors it had about half a decade ago.
  • One set of almost 800 sales executives from 47 organizations indicated that they perceive their products/services as 30% less differentiable in the present than they were three years prior.
  • Customers can access more than 20 times the amount of data on an organization as they had about half a decade ago.

The sales function plays a crucial role in driving organic growth within an organization with a growing emphasis on the ability of salespeople to help identify and design solutions for customers as a means of maintaining the differentiability of an organization’s value offerings. That said, significant changes in the buying process have presented new challenges for the sales force in the pursuit of organic growth. The typical buying process today is conducted largely through digital mediums with large proportions of the process conducted independently by a buyer. Some research indicates that the portion of the average buying process conducted digitally can range from 57% to 70%. A large reason for this shift can be explained by the sheer amount of information that is both quickly accessible and easily available to individuals and organizations through digital mediums. In both B2B and B2C contexts, customers are increasingly confident conducting a large amount of research through digital technologies. It is worth considering as well that as younger generations both take on more critical roles within organizations and increase their purchasing power as consumers this trend is expected to become even more pronounced.

It is no surprise then that salespeople have moved more into the digital space, engaging with buyers where they spend most of their time navigating the buying process. This has required salespeople to become increasingly adept in their use of technology as they engage with buyers via a wide array of digital communication media (e.g. email and social media). It has also called into question the role of the salesperson in a context where customers are both able to navigate more of the buying process on their own using digital technologies and make an increasing number of transactions digitally through web interfaces. In some cases, members of the sales force have transitioned to also serving a role as advisors, after the sales of a more complicated product or service, helping to explain how a customer can gain even greater value from the related offering.

The allocation of a salesperson’s efforts within the buying process tend to change based on how buyers choose to leverage digital technologies. A 2016 study of business products buyers conducted by marketing automation software company Marketo suggested this shift can be quite dramatic.

Changes in the buying process have also placed greater pressure on the sales and marketing functions to take a more coordinated approach to managing the buying process. Within the digital space a potential customer or current customer may take one set of actions that seem to indicate he/she is at one stage in the buying process and then take another set of actions that seem to indicate that he/she is at another stage in the buying process. This speaks to the nonlinear nature of the process that many buyers take while using digital technologies. It also speaks to the importance of a coordinated effort between sales and marketing functions, one that breaks down silos of communication and eliminates information hoarding tendencies. Granted this may be easier said than done. The use of technology can help enhance the sales and marketing functions ability to understand the journey that a potential customer has taken thus far and more effectively coordinate efforts. However, technology that is not implemented with both functions’ needs in mind and without buy-in from both functions, will have limited value (if any). Stressing the importance of alignment between sales and marketing functions on interpersonal dimensions.

Issues of coordination and alignment between sales and marketing are especially salient within the context of lead management. The generation, nurturing, and management of leads (and particularly high quality leads) are all critical components for organizations seeking organic growth. While advances in information technology have made the capture of information on leads and the overall generation of leads a more effective and efficient enterprise, new issues have come to the forefront regarding the management of leads. For instance, it is not unheard of for members of the sales and marketing function to disagree on the characteristics that comprise a great lead. This disagreement can translate into several issues. A salesperson may experience frustration that can lead to performance issues as a result of having to contact leads who either are not ready to engage with a salesperson or most likely will never be in a position to buy. Technological methods such as lead scoring can provide substantial value to an organization seeking better ways of understanding the value of leads and the characteristics of high quality leads, but their effectiveness is generally contingent on some level of consensus being reached regarding the characteristics and behaviors of a high-quality lead.

As the buying process becomes more digital-centric it is critical for sales managers to be able to understand the journey that buyers take, what stage of the journey they are currently in, and what actions are most likely to move the buyer further along in the journey. Achieving greater coordination of digital efforts managed by sales and marketing as well as greater agreement between sales and marketing on the characteristics that comprise a high-quality lead (and further down the process a high-value customer) serve as challenges worth pursuing given the potentially substantial organizational rewards they can yield.


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Have questions or need further information? Contact Frances Wheeland, fwheeland@bauer.uh.edu

Q2 Blog: Two Tips Anyone Can Use to Become a Great Account Manager

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Two Tips Anyone Can Use to Become a Great Account Manager

First and foremost, always add value to your company AND your customer. This seems intuitive and should be easy to accomplish, yet few Account Managers routinely create value for both organizations.

This begs the question: How do you always create value for both?

Answer: Increase your win rate at acceptable margins and provide a superior customer experience. This is a win for the supplier and customer.

In today’s world, markets are competitive, pricing from one supplier to another is usually very similar, so how do you win when pricing is basically the same?

Below are two proven strategies you can implement immediately:

Superior customer experience

  • When you have the ball, own it, never drop it
  • Be humble and let you customer have the bigger ego
  • Collaborate to develop solutions that fit a customer’s need

Think of the best waiter you know. Got it? Ok, now let’s apply the three points under superior customer experience. Most likely this waiter smiles and treats you like a valued customer. Your order is confirmed for correctness, service is prompt and they periodically check in to ensure all is well. If there is an issue with the meal, they work hard to fix it and keep you updated. They understand service so they always treat you with respect. If you aren’t sure what you want or if you are looking for something different, they steer you in the right direction – not just what’s most expensive, unless that’s what you want. For this, you tip on the high side and reward the establishment with repeat business. Now, check your experience with the bullets above. If a waiter can apply the principals of Superior Customer Experience, you can too and watch how you are rewarded with repeat business at slightly higher margins.

Here’s another example that took place in Colorado. This was a greenfield development where a Major Oil and Gas operator entered the basin with the goal to become the most effective, lowest cost/ft, driller. Halliburton engaged with the operators drilling team early to understand their objectives and issues. Due to their size and safety requirements, running independent operator best practices would not get them where they wanted to be, so we developed an innovation plan where we brought ideas to our customer then worked jointly to validate and implement them. For ideas that did not work, we failed fast with no fault placed on individuals, and learned quickly. When we failed, we kept the operator and Halliburton management team updated on the results so they did not have to ask. Sometimes, these were difficult conversations. We found transparent communication worked the best and kept both teams at ease while improving the team commitment to innovate. When innovations worked, we gave the credit to our customer and were humble regarding Halliburton’s role. This fostered teamwork and a willingness to continue to innovate. By the end of the first year, complex wells were being drilled in a little over five days, which was best in class for the basin.

Engage your management with your customer

  • Demonstrate commitment: Buyers are flattered and appreciate the commitment you demonstrate when you bring the right member of management on a sales call. Their job is to demonstrate company commitment to the customer, provide expertise and take ownership for delivery as promised.
  • Develop business relationships: Focus on the word business. How is a business relationship different from a personal relationship? Take a moment to write down your response to this question before reading on.
    • Business Relationships: Built around key business principles that create value for both sides; reduce risk, address supply & demand concerns, document value created, track key performance indicators, meet delivery and service quality expectations, demonstrate the ability to resolve conflict
    • Personal Relationships: Built around social acceptance, respect, positive energy, fun activities and comradery
  • Improve your Business Acumen:
    • Do you fully understand your business model and how the company makes money? (Most sales people don’t)
    • What does your operations group need, besides higher price, to improve margins? (The best way to build your business acumen is to engage an operations manager in a discussion around his/her business. They enjoy talking about their business to people who are genuinely interested and will help you understand what you, as a sales person, can do to make their life easier, improve their margins and reduce risk. Look for items that are aligned with your customer’s strategy, as these are the opportunities where both groups win.)

Call to action:

An earlier blog, SEI Customer-Supplier Relationships, discussed the benefits of a strategic relationship with your supplier. By definition, the way to move up the relationship scale is to engage your management with your customer at the appropriate level. For this discussion, let’s use an example where you bring the operations manager with you on a sales call, which is part of your plan to close this deal.

How do you prepare the operations manager for a successful call?

  • Provide him/her with the customer’s business drivers and objectives then discuss why they are important to the customer.
  • Review the operation manager’s role in the meeting and the specific commitments they are to communicate.
  • Identify pitfalls that could make the meeting a disaster and develop a strategy with how to respond.

How do you prepare your customer?

  • Ensure they know you are bringing management to the next meeting.
  • This is a great opportunity for your customer to bring in a one or two level up person(s) to the meeting.
  • Set a clear agenda agreed to by both organizations.

Here’s a management and sales example. To close a deal in the Gulf of Mexico with a Major Oil Company, Halliburton identified the need for a business relationship between our customer’s leaders with Halliburton’s operation manager. Key components of this business relationship included detailed knowledge of the customer’s safety program, project expectations and the commitment to deliver as promised. To prepare for the meeting, we created a clear agenda for a one-hour meeting the week before the customer visit and met again for an hour before the actual meeting. This allowed us to discuss business philosophy, drivers and key initiatives of our customer, Halliburton and general market trends that would be of interest for our customer. During the meeting the account manager facilitated while the operations manager & customer took the main speaking roles. One of the outcomes of the meeting was to set up a monthly meeting between the two leaders to establish a long-term rapport. We followed up to ensure the monthly meetings took place and there were business issues on the agenda that added value, not a meet & greet. The Account Team played a key role in establishing the agenda for these meetings. The result was a long-term sustainable business relationship able to withstand a very volatile market with difficult conversations on tough issues.


Creating value for your company and your customer can be done. As with most things in life, the harder you work to create a workable plan with a compelling outcome, the more successful you will become. A great way to start is by identifying ways to create a superior customer experience and then engage your management with your customer’s leadership to build a business relationship.

By: Steve Young, Halliburton Global Account Director, Retired


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Have questions or need further information? Contact Frances Wheeland, fwheeland@bauer.uh.edu

Q2 Blog – Enterprise Selling: From Large Sales to Deep Relatioships

Herman Blog #2 compressed


This quarter’s SEI Executive Membership blog discusses the progression of customer-supplier relationships. This continuum begins with transactional relationships and ends with a strategic relationship of equal partners. We will focus on the right side of the continuum.  

The Progression of Customer-Supplier Relationships

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Sales literature is filled with different models of this continuum. Many of these models use sets of three. In Key Account Management and Planning, Noel Capon describes three steps along a continuum: vendor, quality supplier, and partnership. In Rethinking the Sales Force, Neil Rackham identifies three types of customer–supplier relationships: transactional, consultative, and enterprise. Churchill, Ford, and Walker, in Sales Force Management, list the three levels as market exchange, functional relationship, and strategic partnership. For Senn, Thoma, and Yip, in Customer-Centric Leadership, there are three customer asset management perspectives: sales, consultative, and network. In all of the above cases, and others listed in sales literature, the relationship progression describes an increasingly closer, deeper connection, with broader value for both companies as they move up the continuum. For example, the explicit involvement of both parties in product innovation (value co-creation) is not part of the first relationship level but is desirable in the third.1

Be on the Right

What is the value of being on the right side of this progression for both the customer and the supplier? And, how do you get there?    

To answer these questions let’s start with two examples. The first example involved Ecolab, a large company with a broad product line, but are best known for selling chemicals, especially dish soap, to restaurants and hotels. An Ecolab District Manager (DM) told me about the impact he had on one of his small independent restaurant customers when he was a salesperson. He had managed a small French restaurant account for some years and knew the owner and manager well. The restaurant was located in Houston, near Rice University and the Texas Medical Center. There was a period of time when the restaurant had a problem, a significant drop in the number of customer visits. After some discussion between the sales rep, the owner and the manager, the Ecolab salesperson recommended some menu changes that he felt would be better options for the restaurant’s health conscious and environmentally aware customer base. He also suggested some ideas to market these changes. Business improved 30% almost immediately. They went from unprofitable to very profitable.

The second example involved Chevron’s problem locating and quantifying hydrocarbons in the complex geology in Nigeria. The Global Account Manager (GAM) for Halliburton’s Landmark division was aware of this problem. Working with the Chevron Earth Sciences Asset Manager for Nigeria, they created a joint team that worked together on the problem for almost 3 years and developed a seismic interpretation solution. This solution increased Nigerian Asset production by 17%. This was approximately 10,000 BOE/Day – that’s an additional $100,000,000 per year.

Some questions to think about:

  1. Why was a dish soap salesperson asking questions about a restaurant’s menu?
  2. Why did he recommend changes to the menu and a marketing plan?
  3. Why did Landmark, a product company, help Chevron develop their Nigerian oil field?
  4. What would the restaurant manager do if an Ecolab competitor’s dish soap was $1.00 less per pound?
  5. What would the Chevron Nigeria Asset Manager do if a Halliburton competitor has a completion tool that is $15,000 versus Halliburton’s $17,000?


The Value of Business Value

The answer to the last two questions is that the customer would likely tell the respective competitor to get lost. The Ecolab DM and the Halliburton GAM added value to their customer that went way beyond the value of their product. Looking at this visually, where are these two salespeople on the relationship progression described in the ladder below?

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 1.05.03 PM

This ladder is another way to describe the progression of customer relationships. It is adapted from MIller-Heiman’s Large Account Management Process.2 I like it better than the models described above because of its simplicity and clarity. The relationship our two salespeople have with their respective customer is solidly on the top two steps of this ladder. They both made an important contribution to the business; they added a lot of value to their customers. So in both cases, competition, price and specific features are less important.  

Why do Salespeople do this? (Questions 1-3 above)

Much of current sales literature discusses the necessity of salespeople to add value beyond communicating the value of the features and benefits of their products. This is especially critical when this kind of information is readily available through Google. Today a customer doesn’t want a salesperson to talk about products and services. But Google can’t provide a customer with what the DM and GAM provided. Why? Because the most important criteria necessary to solve these problems was knowledge of the restaurant and knowledge of the Chevron Nigerian oil field. In other words, the critical difference was intimate, deep customer knowledge and a passion to learn and use that knowledge to improve the customer’s business.   

At the Sales Excellence Institute, we call this passion the two C’s that separate a good, adequate salesperson from a great salesperson. These two C’s are Curiosity and Confidence. Curiosity causes salespeople to learn more about a customer’s business than what is necessary to sell the features and functions of products or services. Curiosity is often accompanied by and encouraged by empathy. Because the Ecolab DM was curious, he asked questions that determined there was a problem. Then he identified the nature of the problem. Because he was empathetic he looked for solutions that had nothing to do with himself. Then he was confident that he knew enough about the customer and the restaurant business that he could find a solution.    

In the Chevron example, the GAM also had confidence in Halliburton’s ability to provide resources to help solve the problem. The confidence we are talking about is confidence in one’s own ability and in the supplier’s ability to deliver resources to solve the problem.

Curiosity and Confidence – When salespeople have these traits, customers get real business value from the relationship and suppliers get increased customer retention and profitability.

As an aside, when interviewing salespeople, look for the traits of Curiosity and Confidence. It is relatively easy to determine if the candidate is curious and confident, especially compared to other equally important traits like honesty, integrity and work ethic.

  • Solving customer’s business problems that are beyond a supplier’s product/service scope is the value differentiator for salespeople
  • Salespeople that do this have higher customer retention, profitability and growth and less competitive threats
  • Confidence and Curiosity are traits that are necessary to create this kind of relationship



  1. Joel Le Bon, Carl Herman: Key Account Management, Business Expert Press, 2015


  1. Robert B. Miller, Tad Tuleja, Stephen E. Heiman: The New Successful Large Account   Management, Business Plus, 2005

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Q1 Blog: Building a Case for Team Diversity by Carl Herman

Herman Blog

Welcome to the first SEI Executive Membership blog! This blog is the kick-start to the first quarter of Executive Membership, where SEI has been exploring the changing demographics amongst new generations in today’s business environments. 

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This quarter’s SEI Executive Membership blog discusses the benefits of diversity in sales organizations.  

There is clearly a movement to increase the diversity of the workforce in many organizations.  In today’s corporate world most senior leaders believe in and support the societal benefits of diversity and equality in the workforce.  These benefits are not unique to the sales force, they are true for all parts of all organizations. But these corporate social responsibility benefits are not the focus of this blog.   The Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute (SEI) is always focused on improving sales performance and that is the reason this blog is focused on diversity.  

We are pragmatic; sales organizations should be diverse because they will sell more.  “Racial and gender diversity are associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits.  And, not only are racial and gender diversity significantly related to sales revenue, they are also among its most important predictors.”1. Additionally, “companies that commit to diverse leadership are more successful.”2   Diverse companies outperform their heterogeneous 55 year old white male competitors.  Many companies recognize this and are taking steps to promote positive change.  

What do we mean by diversity?  When we talk about diversity we mean in all dimensions, not just racial and gender as mentioned above.  A diverse sales force is one that has a mix of:

  • Gender and sexual orientation
  • Racial/ethnic groups
  • Nationalities
  • Ages
  • Socio-economic levels

We cannot be prescriptive on the ratio for each, but in a sales context,  the makeup of each of these groups in a company’s target market(s) should be a prime determinant.  That approach is one of the reasons for Schlumberger’s practice of hiring (and educating) local citizens in the 140 countries in which they operate.  At Intel the goal is that the diversity of their workforce should match the ratios in the communities in which they operate.   The students in SEI reflect this broad definition of diversity, and as we will see it is one of the reasons we have a successful sales organization.

There are four reasons diversity increases sales:

  • Customers relate better to salespeople who are the “same”
    • State Farm and Henry Schein examples
  • Diverse organizations develop better strategies for different groups
    • MillerCoors example
  • Diverse teammates have different backgrounds and perspectives;  learning from each other creates positive results
    • Information processing company example
  • Diverse teams are more likely to think outside the box to creatively solve problems
    • SEI examples

Let’s look at examples of each of the reasons diversity increases sales performance.

Customers relate better to salespeople who are the “same”

Years ago Rita Howard, Vice President at State Farm, told me she wanted to increase the diversity of State Farm Agents to reflect the diversity of the Houston market.  She wanted Agents that “looked like” the community they served.  Dean Kyle with Henry Schein Dental agreed and hired a Vietnamese student from our sales program.  This salesperson was very successful selling Schein Dental products and services to the Asian, primarily Vietnamese, communities in Houston. 

Sometimes the advantage of diversity can be obvious,  as in these two examples.  But are there benefits to a diverse sales force in complex global business to business sales?   

Diverse organizations develop better strategies for different groups

One of MillerCoors largest distributor partners, Manhattan Beer Distributors (MBD), has embedded diversity into its business, and has realized substantial sales growth as a result.  Key outcomes garnered from their diverse workforce are better business decisions and increased innovation.  

Faced with the crowded New York marketplace, MBD needed a strategy to build strong brand equity among beer drinking consumers faced with countless choices.   To increase market share among Latino consumers MillerCoors and MBD developed strong relationships with Hispanic retailers by listening to their needs and developing point-of-sale marketing and promotional materials that resonated with key Latino beer drinkers. Today 51% of MBD’s combined workforce is Latino, and it has experienced double-digit Coors Light sales growth every year since 2003. As a result, Coors Light is now the best-selling beer in New York City, and has higher share among Latinos in New York than the general market.3

Diverse teammates have different backgrounds and perspectives;  learning from each other creates positive results

In a 2002 study of the effects of diversity in a Fortune 500 information processing firm a research team headed by Thomas Kochan at MIT Sloan School of Business found that diverse companies that fostered an “integration and learning”  team environment, (i.e. teammates were exposed to and learned from people with different experiences and backgrounds) outperformed other teams.  “In this company emphasis is placed on recognizing the contributions of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles. Efforts are made to create an environment in which people from diverse backgrounds feel comfortable and are treated with respect.  These efforts are made in order to give the company a competitive advantage by harnessing the power that diversity can bring to the organization.  By recognizing, fostering, and utilizing the contributions of people from diverse backgrounds, the organization increases its ability to innovate, to compete, and to meet customer needs.”5

Diverse teams are more likely to think outside the box to creatively solve problems

My passion about the value of diversity in sales teams comes from personal observation of the performance of student sales teams in the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute (SEI) at U of H.  

The University of Houston campus reflects the amazing diversity of Houston. “Houston has surpassed the likes of Los Angeles and New York as the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the the U.S4.” Below is the ethnic makeup of the Spring 2015 SEI class.  It reflects the diversity of Houston and is consistent each semester.  Gender diversity is almost always near 50/50, usually with a few more women than men.  Although we don’t measure it, we also have significant numbers of LGBT students in each class and a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.  

Readers of this blog are likely to know that, more than other sales programs, SEI successfully creates a real world sales environment for our undergraduate students.  As students progress through our four quota-carrying classes, they make real sales to real companies to make real quotas.  If they don’t, they don’t make a grade sufficient enough to continue in, or graduate from, the sales program.  Students go through this rigorous curriculum as a cohort of 60 to 70 students.  During the year they are together, these 60-70 salespeople have many opportunities to work together to solve market problems and make or exceed sales quotas.  

So, SEI is a real sales force that has broad diversity.  How does that diversity impact sales performance?

When we say diversity is part of the culture, you have to see it to understand it.  To our students anything else would seem unrealistic and weird.  They work together without a thought of difference.   They are just salespeople working towards common goals of supporting teammates to make their individual quotas and as a team, outperforming the prior class.  The value of the diversity is in the ability to relate to prospects, the different thinking, the different approaches to problem solving, and the creativity and innovation these differences make possible.  

Although there are many possible examples of diverse SEI teams creatively solving problems that resulted in significant sales, I will share just two.  

In the spring of 2015 a student Key Account team closed the largest sale in SEI history.  The team was an Hispanic woman, a Caucasian woman and a Libyan National man.  The customer was an existing Program Partner of our sales program, the lowest level of Partner status.  This team, like the three teams before it, wanted to upgrade the customer to a Strategic Partner, our highest level of Partnership.

What the team did to make this sale is impressive, but the steps they took are not unique.  They did what we teach them to do.  They did extensive research on the account so that they understood their business situation and their relationship with SEI.  They met with the key decision makers and influencers – formally and informally.  Over a period of months they clearly identified and clarified the customer’s problem:  They did not have enough exposure to our students, their potential new-hires, to determine which ones had the ability to perform in their technically and organizationally complex sales environment.

At this point, we were near the end of our sales year – the team had to close this deal to make their quota.  With some urgency, the team developed an innovative and creative solution to give the customer the exposure they needed to identify their best new-hire candidates.  In three challenging presentation and negotiation meetings with the customer, working as a team, these three students closed the deal.  Each of them brought their own strengths to the process, especially the creative problem solution and the contract negotiation.  In these two steps the different abilities were critical and were clearly a result of the different experiences and diversity of each member.   

A second example of diverse SEI teams achieving superior results:

In the spring of 2013, we were in danger of losing one of our best, oldest and largest partners.  This partner, in the financial services industry, had determined that they were not achieving a sufficient ROI from their SEI investment.  

The four students on the Key Account team responsible for this account were an Asian woman, a Hispanic man, a Caucasian man and a Caucasian woman.  They knew about the account’s problem and had tried repeatedly for months to engage the account to develop a plan to increase the value of their SEI investment. They were not even able to meet with the decision maker and dominant influencer.  

One afternoon, very near the end of the sales year, the team sat down to brainstorm solutions.  A little after midnight they had the general concept of a solution – a new SEI sales class focused on students interested in the financial services industry. This class would create a natural pool of potential candidates for this, and all the other financial services customers.  Again, this was a creative solution that had never been done before.  Developing this idea and ultimately the winning proposal required the talents and diverse perspectives of this great team.

Why did these teams succeed when others had not, and in such a dramatic way?  There is not one simple answer, but by working together as well as they did, they achieved something others had been able to accomplish.  Their differences were a significant part of their combined strength and capability.

SEI and these examples are evidence of what diversity can achieve, and the potential the future holds for those organizations that embrace the power of diversity in sales.   

The scope of this article does not include how to increase diversity, only why.  But we do want to acknowledge the tremendous effort associated with changing from a relatively heterogeneous workforce to an appropriately diverse one.  This transition is difficult and requires a sustained initiative over many years.  Schlumberger has had a successful diversity policy for 40 years.   A more recent Intel initiative will be 5 years old when their goal is reached in 2020 – lightning speed. Hopefully, we have built the case that it is worth the effort.  

Diversity sells!    

1Cedric Herring, Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity

American Sociological Review,2009, VOL. 74 (April:208–224)

2Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton and Sara Prince, Why Diversity Matters,  McKinsey Research, January 2015

3Steve Medina, Diversity Journal, 2/25/2011

4The Huffington Post, 3/5/2012 and The Kinder Institute, Houston Region Grows More Racially/Ethnically Diverse, With Small Declines in Segregation, 2011

5Thomas Kochan, et al, The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of a Feasibility Study of the Diversity Research Network, Human Resource Management, Spring 2003, Vol. 42, No. 1, Pp. 3-21


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