2017 Global Sales Science Institute Conference

2017, 11th GLOBAL SALES SCIENCE INSTITUTE CONFERENCE

 June 6 – 9, 2017

Mauritius

Paradis Hotel & Golf Club, Le Morne – Indian Ocean

Picture1

Important dates & DEADLINES

  • Papers Submission Deadline: Friday, October 21st, 2016
  • Co-Chairs Decision to Authors: Monday, November 28th, 2016
  • Final Formatted Paper Version Deadline: Monday, December 12th, 2016
  • Conference Registration Deadline: Friday, December 16th, 2016
  • Hotel Room Reservations Deadline: Friday, December 16th, 2016

CALL FOR PAPERS

  • Conference Theme
  • Submission Guidelines
  • Topics of Interest
  • Conference Venue & Registration
  • About Mauritius

Conference Theme

NEW FRONTIERS IN SALES RESEARCH & EDUCATION

IN A GLOBAL & SUSTAINABLE WORLD

The Global Sales Science Institute (GSSI) Conference is a unique gathering of international scholars and practitioners interested in sharing and advancing cutting edge professional selling and sales management practices, research, and education. In keeping with its title the GSSI Conference is held in a different country every year. This year marks the 11th year that the conference has been held.

The 2017 GSSI Conference will be co-hosted by the University of Houston, Steven Stagner Sales Excellence Institute (USA) and Baylor University, Center for Professional Selling (USA), and will be held in Mauritius at the 5* Paradis Hotel & Golf Club situated between the iconic Le Morne Brabant mountain registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the crystal-clear lagoon of Le Morne peninsula.

The conference will begin with a Welcoming Reception on Monday evening (June 5Th, 2017) and will offer Morning Session Presentations only (from Tuesday June 6th through Friday June 9th), leaving afternoons for networking opportunities, recreational activities, and excursions on the beautiful Island of Mauritius.

In addition to scientific research, the conference will address best practices in sales education, making the conference an excellent venue for sales educators looking for professional development opportunities. Competitive papers will be selected following a double-blind review process. In an effort to highlight research opportunities and bridge the gap between academia and practice, special sessions with guest speakers will be devoted to business development, professional selling, sales management, and sales education challenges in emerging countries. For more information about GSSI Conference, please contact the Conference Co-Chairs.

Competitive Empirical & Theoretical Papers in Sales Research. The conference welcomes both empirical and theoretical papers related to all aspects of professional selling, sales negotiation, sales management, and marketing and sales interface. Papers which connect science with practice, and those which explore interesting new concepts, trends, directions and important developments in sales are especially encouraged. In particular, we would like to encourage both explorative and advanced research on a set of topics pertaining to how the sales discipline is evolving today in a global economy where customers force suppliers provide cost-effective value propositions. A suggested, but not exhaustive, list of topics is provided below. There will be an Award for the Conference Best Empirical Paper, and for the Conference Best Theoretical Paper.

Competitive Best Practice Papers in Sales Education. The conference will offer special sessions on sales education, effective classroom approach, techniques, and assignments. In particular, we would like to encourage papers on how executive education can leverage sales research for better return on investment for companies. There will be an Award for the Conference Best Practice in Sales Education Paper.
Doctoral Student Sales Research Program. There will be a special competitive session for doctoral student papers (empirical or conceptual) related to any selling and/or sales management issue. Submitted papers must be authored solely by doctoral students (single or multiple authors are acceptable) who are candidates for degrees in marketing or a closely related field at an accredited university. In addition, thanks to SEF Sales Education Foundation support, the Conference registration fees will be waived for doctoral students with accepted papers. Upon submission, please mention that the paper has been authored (or co-authored) by doctoral student(s). There will be an Award for the Best Doctoral Student Paper.

Competitive Empirical Papers and Doctoral Student Papers should be submitted electronically to Dr. Andrea Dixon at Baylor University (Andrea_Dixon@baylor.edu) following the submission guidelines below. Competitive Theoretical Papers and Competitive Best Practices in Sales Education Papers should be submitted electronically to Dr. Joel Le Bon at University of Houston (jlebon@bauer.uh.edu) following the submission guidelines below.

We look forward to your submissions and to seeing you in Mauritius!

Conference Co-Chair: Professor Andrea Dixon, PhD

Baylor University – Hankamer School of Business

Center for Professional Selling

eMail: Andrea_Dixon@baylor.edu – Phone: +1 (254) 710-1986

Conference Co-Chair: Professor Joël Le Bon, PhD

University of Houston – C.T. Bauer College of Business

Steven Stagner Sales Excellence Institute

eMail: jlebon@bauer.uh.edu  Phone: +1 (713) 743-4166

Submission Guidelines for Empirical, Theoretical, and Doctoral Student Papers

(Please follow closely):

  1. A five page extended abstract of your research, including a brief abstract, the main research question(s), theoretical framework, methods/results (wherever applicable), and discussion sections should be submitted to the appropriate Chair electronically in Microsoft Word format no later than Friday, October 21st, 2016.
  2. Please submit 2 files. The first file should contain the complete manuscript including author information (names, affiliation, address, phone, fax, and email). The second file should contain the complete abstract without author information.
  3. Papers will be reviewed using a double-blind review process. Authors should avoid revealing their identities in the bodies of the papers. Manuscripts must include a single-spaced abstract not exceeding 100 words. The body of the paper should adhere to all the manuscript submission guidelines of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management. Maximum length is 5 single-spaced pages, including tables, exhibits, and references. Submissions that exceed the above guidelines will be immediately returned to the author for appropriate editing.
  4. Each submission will be evaluated on the importance and potential contribution of the sales topic, quality of conceptual development, sampling, methodology, and the managerial relevance of the results.

Submission Guidelines for Best Practices in Sales Education Papers

(Please follow closely):

  1. A five page extended abstract describing the teaching challenge at stake (for sales students or executives), including a brief abstract, the main teaching concern(s), theoretical foundations for the teaching and learning process, clear implementable teaching methods and assignments, results, and take aways for sales educators should be submitted to the appropriate Chair electronically in Microsoft Word format no later than Friday, October 21st, 2016.
  2. Please submit 2 files. The first file should contain the complete manuscript including author information (names, affiliation, address, phone, fax, and email). The second file should contain the complete abstract without author information.
  3. Papers will be reviewed using a double-blind review process. Authors should avoid revealing their identities in the bodies of the papers. Manuscripts must include a single-spaced abstract not exceeding 100 words. References in the paper should adhere to all the manuscript submission guidelines of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management. Maximum length is 5 single-spaced pages, including tables, exhibits, and references. Submissions that exceed the above guidelines will be immediately returned to the author for appropriate editing.
  4. Each submission will be evaluated on the importance and potential contribution of the teaching approach to sales education, quality of the methods and assignments, impact of the results and take aways to improve sales students or executives education.

Note:

To be considered for presentation at the conference and publication in the Proceedings, a paper or a similar version of it must not:

  1. have been previously published,
  2. have been accepted for publication elsewhere,
  3. be under consideration or review for publication elsewhere.

At least one author of an accepted paper must:

  1. appear at the conference to present the paper,
  2. return by the deadline a properly final formatted version of the paper (formatting instructions will be provided to the authors of accepted papers) to the Proceedings editor for publication in the Proceedings in short abstract (100 words) or extended abstract (five pages)
  3. register for the Conference by the conference registration deadline.

Topics of Interest

1.Professional selling, buyer-seller interactions.

Including but not limited to:

  • Challenges in co-creating cost-effective value propositions, such as in global markets
  • Cross cultural comparisons on buyer-seller interactions and co-creation process
  • Key account management
  • Sales negotiations
  • Comparison, assessment of selling techniques and strategies
  • Selling in emerging countries
  • Differentiation through selling sustainable products and value propositions
  • Adapting selling style to customer’s buying process, such as in global markets
  • Selling through channels and to trade
  • Social selling, such as in emerging countries
  • Relationship management, and maintaining customer loyalty

2. Sales management, sales leadership, organizational enablers.

Including but not limited to:

  • Leading, managing, motivating, coaching the sales force, such as in global markets and emerging countries
  • Characteristics of excellent versus average sales managers
  • Differences between sales managers and sales leaders
  • Cross cultural comparisons on sales management and sales leadership
  • Managing and leading virtual sales teams, such as in global markets
  • Managing and enhancing salespeople’s job satisfaction and subjective well-being
  • Managing and leading different generations of salespeople, such as in global markets
  • Sales force enablement for sales force effectiveness
  • Competitive intelligence through the sales force
  • Marketing and sales interface
  • Role of marketing in enabling the sales process, and sales performance
  • Leveraging information technology (e.g., CRM, social media, mobile marketing)
  • How the Internet of Things impacts the sales function
  • Cross cultural comparisons on how technology affects sales efficiency and effectiveness
  • Effective training and development of sales managers and salespeople

Conference Venue & Registration

We are pleased to welcome you at the GSSI 2017 Conference in Mauritius at the superb and unique Paradis Hotel & Golf Club resort!

To situate Mauritius and the conference hotel, please click on the PowerPoint Show below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.02.14 PM

Ideally situated on Le Morne Peninsula, the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club is fringed by a stunning lagoon on one side and a spectacular golf course on the other, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Le Morne Brabant Mountain in the backdrop.

A stay at Paradis heralds a fantastic culinary journey as the resort has four restaurants to choose from. The hotel is not only perfect for leisure seekers, but also for families traveling with children. A true sporting paradise in Mauritius, Paradis offers an extensive choice of complimentary land and water sports plus the opportunity to play on three championship golf courses in the vicinity including its very own 18-hole international golf course. The hotel also has a golf academy welcoming beginners and seasoned golfers alike, and a Spa which provides the perfect setting to soothe the body and mind.

The golf green fees will be free of charge for GSSI 2017 guests residing in the hotel.

Special Offer & Preferred Rates for GSSI 2017 Conference & Guests

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.02.27 PM

The special rates apply to all conference attendees for all extension i.e., in case of pre/post stay in the hotel.

Registration Process: Please follow the three steps below

Due to the limited number of rooms at the GSSI Preferred Rates, Conference Registration & Hotel Room Reservations should be made no later than December 16th, 2016.

(1) Please register to the GSSI 2017 Conference by clicking on the link below:

<< Link to Conference Registration – Available Soon >>

(2) Make your hotel room reservation by downloading, filling out, and sending the form below directly to Mr David Bhoyroo from The Paradis Hotel & Golf Club / Beachcomber Group at the following email address: groups.dp@bchot.com

<< Link to Hotel Reservation Form – Available Soon >>

(3) Once you have made your travel plan, please schedule your transfer from the airport to the conference hotel by contacting directly Mr Fabrice Jodun from Mautourco at the following email address: fabricejo@mautourco.com

Please note the conditions for airport transfers: (a) Group transfers at USD32 per person are applicable for a minimum of 4 paying persons per vehicle for both ways transfers (airport-hotel-airport). (b) Individual Private Car/Suv transfers rates’ are applicable per way. Please contact Mr Fabrice Jodun for further information.

To learn more about the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club, please click on their website picture below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.02.39 PM

About Mauritius

Mauritius is a renowned destination for holidaying but also for business and group travel, weddings and honeymoons, among others. The island offers a complete range of unique advantages to visitors from the world over, including:

  • Regular service by international airlines such as Air Mauritius, Emirates, British Airways, Air France and Corsair from and to major cities in Europe, Africa and Asia. Travelers from United States can transit through major cities such as Paris, London, Frankfurt, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Dubai
  • Year-round mild tropical climate
  • Pristine beaches and stunning scenery
  • Modern tourism and hospitality-related infrastructure including the premier international airport in the region
  • Multiracial population and acclaimed tradition of hospitality
  • Political and social stability
  • Excellent health and safety standards allowing travelers to be exempted from vaccination requirements

The official language is English, but French is also spoken widely and most of the people are bilingual. Creole is used locally as are several Asian languages.

The Mauritian rupee is the national currency. All well-known credit cards are accepted throughout the country.

To learn more about the Visa Requirements for Mauritius, please click on the link below:

http://passport.govmu.org/English/Passport%20and%20Visa%20Requirement%20in%20Mauritius/Pages/Visa-Requirements-in-Mauritius.aspx

***

Mautourco, one of the most important Destination Management Company in Mauritius with six decades experience will be present at the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club resort for GSSI 2017 Conference guests to advise them and offer a wide range of recreational activities and excursions

***

To learn more about Mauritius, please click on the website picture below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.03.05 PM

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

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 12.20.32 PM

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.

Summary

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

 

Fore more blogs and resources, sign up to be a member today:

http://www.bauer.uh.edu/sei/executive-education/membership/

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

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 1.05.12 PM

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.
Summary

  • 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

 

Footnotes

  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

Fore more blogs and resources, sign up to be a member today:

http://www.bauer.uh.edu/sei/executive-education/membership/

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

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. 

Fore more blogs and resources, sign up to be a member today:

http://www.bauer.uh.edu/sei/executive-education/membership/

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

 

BUILDING A CASE FOR TEAM DIVERSITY

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!    
References

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

 

Fore more blogs and resources, sign up to be a member today:

http://www.bauer.uh.edu/sei/executive-education/membership/

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

Fall 2016 Sales Career Fair – General Information

SALES CAREER FAIR|Fall 2016

The Sales Career Fair will be held November 3, 2016 from 3:00-6:00 P.M. at the Student Center South’s Houston Room. All majors are welcome! Professional dress is required.

For employer information, please visit this link.

Below is a complete list of attending companies: (Complete list coming soon!)

 

PES Sales Career Fair Fall 2016 – Employer Information

General Information

PES Career Fair is a student-run event offered by the Program for Excellence in Selling. It allows students to gain real sales experience in that students are required to register participants and service their clients. The event is offered bi-annually, it is a great way for your company to recruit sales people from the top sales program in the nation and network with students from the University of Houston, as well as other neighboring colleges. The registration fee for this semester’s career fair is $500.

For more information about participating in the career fair, please contact Saskya Gagneux at sgagneux@bauer.uh.edu

Shipping Information

You are welcome to ship your career fair items and display prior to the event to the following address:

Sales Excellence Institute

University of Houston
4750 Calhoun Road Ste. 365
Houston, Texas 77204-6021. 

If you would like us to expedite shipping afterward, please ensure a return label is affixed to the packages, as SEI is not responsible for shipping costs.

Arrival & Setup

Please drop off any items for the Career Fair at the Student Center South (right in front of the Hilton Hotel) entrance before parking. There will be students there to assist you with the Career Fair materials. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Breakdown

Sales Career Fair will end at 6:00 p.m.  Some companies will probably start breaking down prior to 6:00 p.m; however, you may do so at your own discretion. There will be students to assist you at the end of the career fair as well.

Parking

Employers are  welcome to park at the East Garage, the Welcome Center Garage, and the Hilton Hotel Garage on campus. Parking validations will be provided to employers.

Directions

Directions to Student Center South (see the link)

https://ssl.uh.edu/maps/buildings/?short_name=UC

UC Map

PES Open Charity Golf Tournament

PES OPEN CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT| Fall 2016

General Information:

Date: October 24, 2016

Location: Kingwood Country Club

PES Open Charity Golf Tournament is a student-run event offered by the Program for Excellence in Selling. It allows students to gain real sales experience in that students are required to register participants and service their clients. The event is offered bi-annually, it is a great way to network with Houston area business leaders and students from the #1 sales program in the nation. For more information about participating in this semester’s golf tournament, please contact Eric Gibson at esgibson@bauer.uh.edu .