How is one of the largest companies in the world evolving the way it sells? Cate Gutowski, Vice President, Commercial & digital THREAD at General Electric, speaks with CXOTalk about digital transformation of the global salesforce at General Electric, and the changing relationship between sales and IT.
For more information: https://www.cxotalk.com/episode/ge-digital-transformation-global-salesforce
Gutowski, who has worked at GE for two decades, explains the sales function is about to undergo the biggest transformation in the history of selling:
“We are driving the digital transformation of our sales force by activating the Commercial digital THREAD, a connected digital ecosystem that will enable our Field Sales professionals to serve our customers with speed, and drive growth,” she says. “My team of Product Managers incubates new technologies in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics to rapidly test and learn on how we can drive more productivity for our 25,000 sellers across 180 countries. Our mission is to enable our Field Sales teams all over the world to do their jobs simpler, faster and better than they could before by leveraging technology.”
From the transcript:
You're working closely with IT and the CIO. Why is that so important?
Cate Gutowski: Yeah, great question, Michael. I love that question. Look; one of the things I'm convinced of is that all future sales leaders, I think, in order to be successful, you really need to have a very close working partnership with your CIO. Look; there's a lot of technology that exists today. It exists right now. It's on the market right now that can dramatically change your sales process and make you significantly more efficient and make your sales teams more productive.
The problem is a lot of us quite simply don't like change. And so, for me, it's been fantastic. I almost felt like an IT wannabe. I've spent a lot of time with the IT team. What I can tell you is that they're incredible partners. Any job I ever take in the future, I'm going to make sure that I have the opportunity to really develop a close partnership because I can see how it can be incredibly productive.
Michael Krigsman: We have IT. These all, each of these groups, have its own objective, its own KPIs. How do you manage the collaboration? How do you do that?
Cate Gutowski: Yes, it's a good question. When I was asked to lead this digital transformation, chose to organize my team as product management. I have product managers that wake up every morning that are focused on different areas. They partner with a lot of technology companies.
We make decisions every day, Michael. Are we going to build, make, or buy technologies? In some cases things are strategic and we want to have the IP around it. We feel like we can execute it faster than someone else, and so we'll choose to do it on our own. But, in a lot of cases, there's a lot. The sales technology landscape is exploding right now, and there are a lot of great technology, like tact.ai, for example, that exists that it's cheaper, faster, and better for us to partner with a company like Tact to bring a product like the GE Digital Assistant to market and to our sales professionals than it would be to try to create it on our own.
I'm embarrassed to say that we didn't have a system to manage all of our customer data all across the company. The outcome of that is staggering. We know that our sales teams spend two-thirds of their time today on administrative tasks and only one-third of their time face-to-face with customers. We know that when our sales team spends more time in front of our customers, we know that they sell more. We've proven that with statistics and regression analysis, and we know that cold.
What was important to us was, look, Michael. I was building the things that I always wanted when I was selling and leading the sales organization. I'll give you an example. I came from the lighting business. When I was in lighting, I wanted to leverage the GE store. I wanted to leverage the contacts that someone in oil and gas had with Exxon Mobile. And, I wanted to get a warm introduction to Exxon Mobile.
In the past, I would spend three weeks, on average, calling and emailing around the company to try to find the right person that could give me a warm introduction. The reality is that that's just not efficient, and it's not productive. The reason why we invested time and money to put this customer data set altogether for the company is because now if I want to get a warm introduction to Exxon Mobile, I can find the information in seconds, and I can see who are the 12 people in the company who have active deals with Exxon Mobile, who are they working with, what's the job, how big is it. I can see all of that, whereas in the past it was like finding a needle in a haystack, Michael.