Wednesday May 04, 2016

A Reflection on Modern Customer Experience

Oracle was thrilled to host over 2000 customers and partners in Las Vegas to share thought leadership around customer experience. The conference was organized around 4 paths: Marketing, Sales, Service and Commerce.

Siva Sundaresan, GVP- Oracle Sales Applications

The Modern Sales Experience unfolded with a remarkable keynote speech by Siva Sundaresan, GVP- Oracle Sales Applications, to a packed audience.  Siva dove deep into the market trends and strategic insights driving Oracle’s technology Innovation, Siva emphasized the need for organizations to curb the margin erosion often introduced by new competitive disruptors. He encouraged companies, looking for growth and higher margins, to demand clear visibility of data and flow of information across the complete customer journey. While presenting his vision of a seamlessly integrated suite of systems that empower extended sales ecosystems, he highlighted Oracle’s full range of solutions (SFA, CPQ, PRM, SPM and CDM) that help Sales Organizations and Partners/Re-sellers to respond to leads, position the right products and services to targeted customers at right time, and close deals. Siva concluded by positioning Oracle as the partner of choice for leading organizations for data stewardship across channels.

This set the stage for Ingolf Abisgold, Head of Sales Performance - DB Schenker, who shared his insights from his 20-20 strategy initiative to drive customer experience in his logistics and distribution business. Driven by the ambitious goals of his CEO, Ingolf launched this initiative to incentivize their channel partners and improve sales performance. He acknowledged Oracle’s data stewardship that laid the foundation for standardized processes across the distribution network at DB Schenker, accurately measuring, monitoring and reporting on set KPIs.

It was great start of the second day of the conference with Troy Carter, founding chairman and CEO of Atom Factory. His legendary journey from a Philadelphia neighborhood to the top of the music industry touched everyone among the audience. He shared insights of his journey from starting his grass-roots business to launching Lady Gaga’s spectacular career, turning customers into raving fans. He left a lasting impression in the conference arena with his grandmother’s statement about how to keep going in your darkest hours – “You can’t fall off the floor”.

Carrying on the momentum, Mark Hurd shared his vision to enable a seamless customer journey across B2B, B2B2C and B2C models, reinforcing the exemplary experiences shared by Siva, Ingolf and Troy. Mark emphasized that companies that realize the highest customer satisfaction scores perform exponentially better in the market than those that don’t.  CEOs today have a challenge to implement new processes and tools which can impact their customer’s experience at a faster pace than ever before- and they need to find ways to invest in critical CX improvements despite the headwinds of flat or declining margins. He challenged businesses to focus on unmet needs- which will still account for 95% of untapped markets.

After these keynotes, the conference proceeded into detailed sessions featuring customer experiences and best practices across all the CX pillars: Oracle CPQ Cloud, Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Commerce Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud.  We were thrilled to hear insight from CX customers at industry leaders including Panasonic, Panduit, ADP, Siemens, Dell, Rockwell Automation, and many more.

To read more about the conference and to bookmark your calendar to attend next year- click here

[Read More]

Wednesday Mar 16, 2016

5 Reasons to Register for Modern Sales Experience

Spring is in the air, which means a few things—jacket weather, spring cleaning, and conference season. While you’re contemplating the conferences you’ll attend, consider an event that will tidy up your sales strategies for the year to come: The Modern Sales Experience.  Here are five reasons to attend the Modern Sales Experience in Las Vegas, April 26-28, 2016.

1. Sales Thought Leadership and Inspiring Speakers

The Modern Sales Experience features more than 25 sessions led by world-class industry analysts, successful global companies and Oracle thought leaders. Take a look at the conference program to search for your area of interest. 

 The conference is full of leading minds in digital and business.  The Conference Keynote will be delivered by Siva Sundaresan, Group VP of Oracle Sales Applications on Tuesday at 3pm in the MGM Grand Conference Center.  On Wednesday at 9am, don’t miss the Modern Experience Keynote presented by Mark Hurd, CEO, Oracle at the MGM Garden Arena.  This is followed by the Sales Keynote with R “Ray” Wang, Chairman and Founder of Constellation Research at 11am in the MGM Grand Conference Center.

Additional general sessions and speakers for the conference include:

  • Human Factors: Unleashing the Value of Technology: Rebecca Wettemann, Vice President of Research, Nucleus Research
  • The Quest for Optimal Sales Performance, Mark Smith, CEO & EVP of Research, Ventana Research
  • Revolutionizing Partner Engagement: Jerri Paul, Business Architect Director Federal Business, Dell, Inc. & David Claflin, IT Management, Dell, Inc.
  • Masterminding Your Technology Landscape: Rhiannon Ainge, Business Systems & Marketing Manager, Panasonic Computer Products Europe
  • The Future of Customer Experience and Digitalization at Siemens: Peter Gapp, Vice President CRM IT Transformation, Siemens A.G.
  • The Future of Work: UNLV Lee Business School Student Panel, moderated by Rebecca Wettemann, Nucleus Research

2. Product Experts

There are many ways to interact with partners and Oracle product experts to gain deeper insights and more intimate live discussions. You’ll find a number of smaller sessions focusing on Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) Cloud and Sales Cloud topics.  In addition to customer-led sessions, Oracle product managers will lead roadmap and other product sessions. There’s also a CPQ Tech Track for Technical Administrators.

Sales session highlights:

  • Industry Solution Showcase for Sales, Scott Creighton, VP Oracle CX Cloud Industry Solutions, Oracle
  • Securing Data between Cloud & On-Premises for Optimal CX Solutions: David Canellos, SVP Advanced Technology, Blue Coat Systems

CPQ session highlights:

  • Opportunity to Cash: Fully Using CPQ in your Business: Jim Toporski, IT Manager & Caroline Gillis, CPQ Senior Manager, Panduit
  • How OneNeck used CPQ to support is Acquisition Strategy: John Hein, Director, Solution Sales Architecture, OneNeck
  • How FANUC America Simplified a Complex Product Quoting Process: Zach Heuer, GM, FANUC America
  • CPQ Tech Track for Technical Administrators

Birds of a Feather: Conference attendees have the opportunity to meet face to face with Oracle product experts.  Choose from five topics of interest at designated tables in the breakfast and lunch areas for the Birds of a Feather program.  This is located in the Solution Center (MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom).

Theater Presentations in the Solutions Center: The Solution Center is where you’ll find Oracle Sales Consultants and Partners.  Visit a demonstration kiosk or a presentation at the Sales Solutions Showcase Theater.  Find your topic of interest whether it’s sales force automation, sales performance management, partner relationship management, customer data management, pre-configured industry solutions or sales analytics.   It’s all there for the taking.

Some of the most important conversations happen in hallways and some of the most valuable relationships are built face to face. Modern Sales Experience has networking breaks designed to give you the chance to network with other Oracle Sales Cloud customers and Oracle leadership. Not to mention the Customer Appreciation Event at the MGM Grand Arena, but we’ll get into that later. 

3. A Unified and Seamless CX Approach

In addition to sales sessions, attendees are encouraged to attend cross-experience sessions. These sessions will reveal how every experience with your brand matters and why it’s critical to strive for a unified and seamless CX approach.  Sessions will cover topics ranging from Industry Solutions, CX Platform, CX suites and integrations, the CX Marketplace, social CRM, CX Cloud for Midsize, and Cloud user experience. These sessions hit upon the hottest trends and challenges customer experiences professionals are facing in 2016. Highlights include a session by Social CRM influencer Paul Greenberg on “Social: the secret Weapon for Customer Experience Success,” and Oracle Application and User Experience GVP Jeremy Ashley will lead a session focused on “Cloud User Experience: The Way Forward.” Take a look at the full program and start planning your schedule.

4. The Las Vegas Experience – Networking and Entertainment

Need we say more?

Cirque du Soleil themed Dinner & Party at the Ling Ling Club at Hakkasan Nightclub: It’s “Fire” at the Ling Ling Club at Hakkasan Nightclub for all Sales conference attendees.  Come prepared for an amazing experience themed around “Fire”, surrounded by performing artists, music and great food on Tuesday from 7-9pm at Hakkasan in the MGM Grand.

5. A Customer Appreciation Event for the Books

Because it wouldn’t be Vegas without a night of world-class entertainment, we’re excited to have booked Goo Goo Dolls to perform a private concert for attendees. Goo Goo Dolls will play in the MGM Grand Arena on Wednesday evening at 10:30pm. The Oracle Customer Appreciation Event is our way to say thanks—we hope you enjoy the night of food, drinks, and amazing entertainment. 

See what attendees are already saying about Modern Sales Experience by joining the conversation on social. Use the hashtag #SalesX16.

Planning meetings with Oracle Partners while onsite? Find the list of sponsors and exhibitors here. Thank you to our Silver Sponsor, Config Consultants!

EXCITING UPDATE: We’ve extended the Early Bird Rate for Modern Sales Experience. Take advantage of $200 off the conference price by registering before March 20. 

See you in Las Vegas!

Friday Feb 26, 2016

Deliver the Grand Slam with Sales Performance Management

The annual 6 Nations Rugby Championship involving England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, dates back to 1883, when the four home nations played a round robin event, France joined in 1910, Italy in 2000.

The game of rugby has evolved so much since the start of the Championships, moving from the amateur game of pure power and passion, to a professional era of strategy, intelligence and leadership. Head coaches now enjoy a media spotlight far beyond that of most players, with critical eyes on every aspect of the game. Tracksuits are replaced by something more businesslike and similarly the expectations are all on performance. 

Wales coach Warren Gatland has some big decisions to make

Going into the 2016 Championships England and Wales are joint record holders, with an incredible 26 titles each. What does it take to command this kind of dominance and continually drive high performance over 80 punishing minutes, game-after-game?

Wales’ Gatland is one of the most admired coaches of his generation, with an impressive record at club and international level. During any game, he’s in the stands with his team of staff scrutinising performance data in real time. This is rugby’s knowledge economy where the players take the role of hardworking muscle and await instruction from the brain in the stands.

“In the modern game there has to be a focus on detail as we aim to give the team every possible advantage over all opponents,” says Gatland. "The environment has to continually evolve to embrace all the available advances in game analysis, conditioning, nutrition, rugby skills and medical care."

Gatland's focus on the game of rugby is a lesson for all Sales Leaders. There is no doubt that much of his success comes from his playing and coaching career. He has real experience in the art of the game. But like any art form, there is a science supporting it. 

As with rugby, building a high-performance sales team takes tactful management, constant motivation and targeted mentoring. These qualities come from years of experience, and as a leader you are valued on these talents. However, alongside this experience, you need the intelligence to compete on the world stage, and to do that you need to make well-informed decisions. Only with this insight can you identify the imperfections in your performance and make the move to the big league. 

This is where Sales Performance Management (SPM) technologies come in. They make it easy to design, develop and reward a high-performing sales organization that drives the right behaviours and aligns sales execution with corporate goals. These tools help to coach, incentivize and uncover previously hidden insights, so management decisions can be based on accurate information, not guesswork. 

Oracle tops the tables in Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management. Gartner highlight strengths in analytical capabilities, industry specialization, handling complex workloads and an increase in successful cloud deployments.

Get some science into your game plan with the tools to Manage, Motivate and Mentor your sales teams more effectively. As Gatland says, you need to give the team every possible advantage over your opponents. It’s the difference between the Wooden Spoon and the Grand Slam!

Wednesday Feb 24, 2016

Increase Productivity and Close Deals Faster

Aberdeen Group found Best-in-Class organizations leverage standardized proposals and automated quote generation processes. Peter Ostrow, from Aberdeen, interviewed Jill Cameron, Sr. Director of Sales Operations with Brocade. Jill shared firsthand experience of how Oracle CPQ Cloud helped her sales organization realize ROI.[Read More]

Monday Feb 15, 2016

Oracle Named a Leader for Sales Performance Management Solution by Virginia Lo

Sales performance continues to be a top objective for sales executives, and investment in Sales Performance Management (SPM) technology supports this focus.  In January, Gartner released its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management and named Oracle’s cloud-based version of its industry-leading Sales Performance Management solution as a Leader.  Oracle has risen into the Leader quadrant by demonstrating completeness of vision and strong ability to execute in the Sales Performance Management market.  

Gartner evaluated 13 vendors for its latest Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management evaluation. SPM vendors provide integral technology components to align companies’ go-to-market efforts to drive improved sales execution through incentive compensation management (ICM), territory management, quota management, gamification, sales coaching, sales appraisals, sales onboarding, and sales training.

In the 2016 SPM evaluation, Gartner cites Oracle SPM’s strength in the delivery of its end-to-end product capabilities, analytics, and customer experience as the reasons for its strong position in the Magic Quadrant.

Companies around the globe leverage Oracle SPM to better manage performance, better motivate behavior, and better mentor best practices – ultimately helping to maximize the performance of the sales force.

Monday Feb 08, 2016

Oracle Cloud - A Truly Modern Cloud

Modern Cloud – London

The Oracle Modern Cloud Conference took place in London on the 2-3 February and was a showcase of Oracle Cloud capability covering ERP, HCM, CX and IT. With Oracle keynotes from Thomas Kurian and Shawn Price and further keynotes from Sir Dave Brailsford of British Cycling and TeamSky, and Rebecca Galambos of The Prince’s Trust, a charity set up by HRH Prince Charles, which helps young people aged 13 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. Brailsford, a sport’s psychologist, gave a totally inspiring speech covering motivation, culture, winning and overcoming your inner chimp*! A few memorable quotes:

"What comes first winning or culture? I like winning first."

“You have to fight your inner chimp.”

"You have to believe! If you don't believe you'll never achieve."

In the Oracle Sales Cloud section we had a fantastic presentation by Gartner VP and Analyst Tiffany Bova who talked about the changing customer, trust and behaviour.

Memorable quotes from Tiffany Bova:

"68% of the material your buyers use to make decisions is NOT coming from you!"

"Customer trust is based on experience, prospect trust is based on third parties”

Finally, we had four great presentations that took us on a journey through a classic sales cycle from organisational design to closing deals. In particular, presentations by Panasonic and Vodafone showed how they are driving commercial benefits from Oracle Cloud Solutions:

The breadth of cloud capability being delivered by Oracle in incredible. They have implemented Oracle....Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud and CPQ Cloud, and still run Siebel for Field Service. They are seeing: 

"Lead to Opportunity times cut from 2 days to less than 1 hour"

"Self service reporting in real time"

"Upgrade resource time cut from 120 days to 12 days moving from on-premise to cloud".

The sheer scale of benefit delivered through there ultra-rapid deployment of Oracle CPQ Cloud.

40% of quotes now approved by sales rep or manager

50% reduction in Sales Cycle time

“The targeted win ratio increase more than doubled”.

For more examples of benefit being gained through Oracle's Truly Modern Cloud, please join our global cloud community for customer panels, best practices, thought leadership, and hands-on training at the Modern Sales Experience in Las Vegas April 26-28.

 * The "inner chimp" is based on work by Steve Peters, an English psychiatrist, who works in elite sport. For more information on this subject please refer to Steve's work. 

Oracle CPQ Cloud: The Personalization Engine by Baylee Miller

When making a purchasing decision, customers need to feel confident that what they’re buying is going to meet their specific needs. A proven way for a company to build that confidence is by providing a personal sales experience. The problem with this is that it takes time to tailor solutions to each customer. That’s why the products on the shelf are often cheaper than the tailored solutions; the seller passes the cost of customization on to the customer. But if companies can deliver the custom experience of a tailored solution with the efficiency of a standard solution, they stand to differentiate themselves from their competitors. 

Enter ERP. Companies figured out that they can standardize certain aspects of their process that are invisible to the customer to reduce costs and the customer will never know they weren’t getting a fully tailored package.  In fact, they’re impressed that the products are delivered so quickly! Making the back-end more efficient worked out so well that innovators started thinking about what else they could do to improve efficiency of operations, and the focus turned to sales. Originally referred to as Sales Force Automation tools, CRM systems took on making the sales process more efficient. They drove sales reps to contact the right prospects at the right times, which vastly improved their win rates. The key here was that customers had no idea that the personal attention they were getting had been triggered by a system that spat their name out based on an algorithm. In fact, to the customer it just looked like an effective sales rep had learned to anticipate the customer’s needs—they always seemed to call when they were needed most! With CRM & ERP in place, the company and the customer were both positioned to walk away happy.  

As CRM and ERP grew to be more and more ubiquitous, their scope and set of functions continued to expand. At a certain point there were no more functions left to optimize that were disconnected from the customer; there was only the building of the quote package. CRM and ERP tools developed standard capabilities for sales reps to configure product sets, price their products quote-by-quote, and generate a document summarizing the products and prices. Those who implemented these tools did gain efficiency in quote preparation, but many quickly learned that their customers didn’t appreciate the lack of personalization and deals were lost. Other companies built custom tools, which gave them the efficiency they were looking for without sacrificing the custom look of their presentation. However their problems arose years later when those custom tools were decrepit and out-of-date. They had been built as snapshots of the personalization experience at that moment; they couldn’t accommodate the inevitable changes to the business. What companies needed was the ability to build all the quote package’s tailored content in an efficient way, and it needed to be backed by a system that can adapt along with their business. They needed a personalization engine.  

BigMachines, the SaaS product that became Oracle CPQ Cloud, was created to be exactly that personalization engine. Instead of building a tool for configuring products that would be used by all CPQ customers, a framework for building configurable interfaces was developed. This framework is the engine at the center of each unique product configuration tool for each CPQ customer. Since each product-tailoring interface is fully specific to the products being sold, the resulting product packages can deliver the same level of personalization that could be reached manually. The same is true when it comes time to set prices for those products; Oracle CPQ Cloud provides tools to build a pricing system rather than the pricing system itself, which allows each CPQ implementation to generate prices precisely as the sales rep and customer expect them. (Note: Oracle CPQ Cloud does include a suite of calculations common to most customers, but this is simply a starting configuration of the framework rather than core functionality that must be overridden.) 

The crux of the personalization experience comes when it’s time to present the products, prices, and marketing collateral to the customer in a targeted quote package. If the quote appears to not speak directly to them and reflect the interactions they’ve had with the sales rep, the personalization effort has been wasted. Oracle CPQ Cloud’s document generation capabilities allow each CPQ customer to set up a document that can be personalized not only in content but also in organization and presentation. This controlled flexibility drives sales reps to efficiently generate consistent, high-quality, targeted quote packages.  And that concept of controlled flexibility is exactly what makes Oracle CPQ Cloud such an effective personalization engine.

Wednesday Oct 07, 2015

Oracle CPQ Cloud Helps Businesses Leverage Differentiators

In order to compete in the worldwide economy, businesses use unique product innovation, marketing strategies, and sales processes – called differentiators – to win orders. While businesses understand the importance of their differentiators, they often find it challenging to target potential customers with a personalized message. CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) is a technology that incorporates differentiators in product, pricing, and marketing strategy to allow companies to create quotes with personalized messages and targeted value. Through sending personalized messages to its target audiences, CPQ helps businesses win more orders.

Take, for example, a fictional custom machinery manufacturer, TechMech. TechMech fully customizes their products to meet specific and complex requirements that differ from deal to deal. Each custom order is approved by an engineer, who determines if the order is physically feasible. The TechMech product customization process is different from their competitors; some competitors offer standard packages at lower prices, while others have assembled options with limited customization. To showcase their differentiators, TechMech needs a CPQ solution that restricts salespeople from not only creating machinery that is physically impossible to manufacture, but also clearly communicates the product’s differentiators to its target audience through its quotes.

Take another fictional company, Precious Metals, Inc. Precious Metals, Inc. sells large amounts of gold and silver. Precious Metals differentiates itself from competitors by constantly updating prices in order to match trading price levels on the stock market. To accommodate this differentiator, Precious Metals, Inc. not only needs a CPQ system that has a flexible, yet precise, pricing system to accommodate their policies, but one that also provides context for these policies to its target audience through its quotes.

CPQ technology is able to deliver a personalized message to customers because CPQ houses many of these differentiators. The Configuration (the “C” within “CPQ” ) and Pricing (the “P”) components of CPQ help add clarity and context on product and pricing differentiators. Quote packages (the “Q”) then tailor specific marketing messages based on the customer’s solution and needs. Since CPQ automates this process, it allows for administrative oversight and rigor of the delivery mechanism. 

At Oracle, we know that CPQ delivers true value in helping our customers win more orders. With over 400 successful Oracle CPQ Cloud implementations, we have proved to consistently deliver the greatest return on investment in the industry. If you want your marketing messages to reflect what makes your business special, then Oracle CPQ Cloud is for you. 

Monday Aug 31, 2015

5 Ways to Measure the Success of your CPQ Project by Greg Swender

With any project, success will often be determined based on improvements to a set of operating metrics, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Standard Six Sigma techniques will tell you to choose your KPIs carefully early in the project and measure each of them before the project is implemented. These metrics will give your project team and executive sponsors a clear view of how the process is operating in its current state. They will also enable you to quantify any improvements you’ve made.

CPQ applications (short for 'Configure, Price, Quote') help sales organizations operate more efficiently. CPQ applications, when implemented correctly, can have a transformational impact on how individuals sell, and can dramatically change how sales teams or channel partners interact with both customers and their internal sales support teams. Given the profound impact a CPQ solution can have on a company’s sales organization, ROI for successful implementations can often be measured in weeks or months after go-live, rather than years.

Sounds easy, right?...

[Read More]

Monday Jul 06, 2015

In Sales or with Fitbit, You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure by Greg Swender

My wife bought me a Fitbit bracelet for my birthday.  My experience has been really positive so far. The iPhone app is easy to setup, and tracking meals, calories and exercise is simple.  The Fitbit has also shaped my behavior.  I have transitioned to baked chips for lunch, plain bagels with no cream cheese (most of the time), and “hold the mayo” on my sandwiches.  It has also pushed me to take the stairs more often and walk more frequently to hit my daily distance goal.  These are all good things.  On the other hand, tracking sleep habits has proven slightly challenging—only because the tapping motion to put the bit into “sleep mode” is awkward and honestly the routine really irritates my wife.  Picture this at bedtime: tap wrist repeatedly, but device fails to “sleep”… REPEAT (this time with harder/louder taps)… nope… REPEAT… you get the idea.

Nighttime tapping aside, this simple device and app show the amazing power of two things: metrics and user adoption.  

  • Metrics: The daily and weekly report in the app that make my eating habits and exercise very visible, along with any improvements or decline over time vs. my goals.  
  • User Adoption: Did I wear the device today?  Did I enter my meals today?  If either answer is no, I haven’t adopted the tool and there’s no hope it will help me.

[Read More]

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