Holy sh*t. I’ve been promoted.

Delivering customer happiness first, technology solutions second.

Recently I was offered the newly established role of General Manager – Sales for Fusion5 New Zealand.

After 15 years with the business in a range of ERP sales roles (most recently the NZ Sales Manager for ERP), I was naturally delighted to see my efforts and commitment to the company recognised and rewarded.

But I must admit, my emotions were mixed.

I was simultaneously thinking ‘holy sh*t!’, I can’t do this. Then - of course I can do this, I’ve already been doing it! And - I’ll have a great team of experienced salespeople that I just need to enable. Then - doubt again. Followed by a vision of what I could achieve, topped with a healthy dollop of excitement.

So, why did I have that ‘HS’ moment?

Fusion5 is a privately owned and run company. We’ve grown from a four-person start-up to a hundred-million-dollar business solutions organisation (with over 450 staff and nine offices across New Zealand and Australia) by being flexible, smart and always customer-focused. And of course, we’re passionate about business technology. 

When offered the new job, what daunted me (albeit temporarily) was how I could take my hard-won skillset and apply it to a brand spanking new role with huge and highly visible responsibilities. You see, Fusion5 has a diverse product portfolio. Instead of being accountable for just ERP sales, I’d also be managing the NZ CRM, ESM, Innovation and Modern Workplace sales teams and their performance, while helping to promote and cross sell into our HCM and Payroll customers.

My success or failure in the GM – Sales role would impact the performance of the business, and the livelihoods and expectations of others.

So while I obviously said ‘yes’ to the promotion (right before I thought holy sh*t), I knew I’d need a strategic plan to be successful.

My stretch and grow strategy

In simple terms, my new job is the same as my last one; (1) acquire new customers for the business, (2) keep existing customers happy by ensuring they achieve their desired business outcomes and (3) look after the wellness of my team.

So far, so good. However, the question I had to ask myself was how, with a much wider remit, I could replicate and amplify my ability to do my job well. This said, I’m no stranger to challenges or working hard. After all, I’ve been a successful ERP sales manager for the last five years, running strong sales teams and meeting/beating sales targets while caring about customer outcomes.

After much thought, I decided my strategy to make the newly forged role successful for both Fusion5 and myself was to scale up what I was already doing (and I knew worked) – without adding unnecessary layers of complexity and control.

Understanding success, from the top down

While just overlaying the new job with my normal approach makes it all sound so easy, l also wanted to understand what Fusion5 truly expected of me, and what constituted success for all of us.

To do this, I took the same approach to the role that I’d typically take to making a new sale, which in my mind is to walk in their shoes; I do this by learning and understanding ‘what is at the core competency of your business, what are your business drivers, what outcomes do you expect?’.

I believe that there’s always more to a sales leadership role than just reaching sales targets. So I interviewed our CEO and founder, Rebecca Tohill, asking her ‘where do you want to take the business in 2020, what are your KPIs, and what does success look like to you?’

(Note: I’m now working my way through talking to the other Fusion5 GMs to understand what’s important to them, then I’ll interview every Salesperson and Account Manager, asking about their job, their customers, and how they like or want to work, and what they’d like to change).

It’s early days. I’ve done a lot of asking questions so far, and there’s more to come. But I’m doing even more listening.

Delivering happiness, solution by solution, customer by customer

Fusion5 has close to 450 customers and around 10 main product sets and 25 salespeople across AU/NZ. We have core products, secondary products and third-level products. I hold myself accountable for enabling our salespeople to do the best for our customers by offering the right products – the best solutions - for their businesses. It has to be the right solution and the right fit, or we prefer to walk away from the opportunity.

Which brings me around to the most important side of the sales success triangle (which I define as right people + right products + right customer outcomes). Our customers.

What makes our customers happy? This is something I did a lot of work on in 2019, particularly in the NetSuite space. While our collective job is to sell and make budget, it’s also our responsibility to retain customers and keep them happy.

What does that mean? In New Zealand, businesses live or die based on the strength of their reputation built up from their customer relationships. We’re a small country, so bad news travels fast and enthusiastically. And it’s compounded by failing to make good on mistakes.

Watch this space

Fusion5 has extensive and excellent customer care processes and continuous improvement programmes in place. We are thorough because our reputation matters to our customers and to us.

But nothing beats handing over your business card to a newly signed customer and making yourself personally available if they need to talk.

I’m proud to be one of the people who loves and cares for our customers. And I’m always happy to listen. So I’ll be handing out lots of cards, thanking them for their business, celebrating their wins and milestones, and listening to their concerns.

I’m only a month into my new role. But I have my own goal already worked out. By the end of 2020, I plan to be looking back and thinking ‘holy sh*t; this is a great job.’

 

Lisa Nicks

General Manager Sales - New Zealand

+64 21 893 423

 

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