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Ep19: Meaghan Riley, Chief Operating Officer, Global Strategic Segments at SAP

The Right Data

Episode Summary

"We have to think of new ways to engage" is Meaghan's top tip for companies struggling in the age of COVID. In episode #19 of our Datavana Podcast, Meaghan Riley COO, Global Strategic Segments at SAP talks about the ever changing business landscape post 2020, and how companies can plan for new areas of expansion and tactics within customer markets.

She explains that if companies want to shift focus they should first work on bringing their sales and marketing teams together. In addition to alignment strategies, teams should be empowered with the right tools to procure accurate data to help develop market insights. "We all had to pivot during COVID. It's about having the right data to do their job and make the decisions at their fingertips."

SAP has a substantial amount of customers globally, so it's important that Meaghan and her team get the data right to deliver meticulous account insights across the board. She details the importance of providing the ultimate service for all of her top-tier clients at SAP; "The next 200 accounts versus the next 300,000 accounts might have a different need, but are equally important from a revenue standpoint.

Ep19: Meaghan Riley, Chief Operating Officer, Global Strategic Segments at SAP
Name: Meaghan Riley
What she does: Chief Operating Officer, Global Strategic Segments
Company: SAP
Noteworthy: Global Executive skilled in Big Picture action and simplifying complexity while leading a diverse, high performance team.
Where to find Meaghan: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

All The Answers Are In The Data

"I don't want a system telling me what to do. I mean, there are certain functions within a company where we should use data to tell the user what to do, you know, PO invoice matching and things like that. But when we're talking about things like sales strategy and go to market across a very small number of accounts that impact a significant amount of our revenue, I don't want it telling me what to do, but I think it's about having the right data."

COVID: The New Normal

"I think we've done a really good job with efficiency and most companies are adapting to COVID. And in fact, I think it's probably created more meetings than we used to have, but we're more efficient not traveling.

But, I do think there's something that’s really hard to replace, (such as) certain functions when you're brainstorming on something with a whiteboard in a room. Even though we have the digital tools, it's not quite the same, everyone is in their own room with their own distractions so that becomes a little bit difficult. And I think it’s hard. You can't really recreate a virtual happy hour, not the same as all being out to dinner."

The Customer Experience

"I talked to my team and I said, ‘we're in a really good place to help lead our customers to help share what other customers are doing across the industries.’ And, you know, we did a lot of things. Like a lot of companies, we mobilized quickly, we did some CEO round tables. I had the opportunity to moderate a roundtable with our CEO and CEOs of 10 different companies and really understand the challenges they were facing and share with them, our experience and experience across our customers."

The Right Tools For The Right Data

"I think putting salespeople out there without giving them proper tools and data and insights into their accounts makes it very difficult for them to succeed in this day and age, especially again, when we talk about COVID. How are they getting unique insights? They're not there everyday walking the halls. I mean, how are we giving them insights that they need into their accounts?"

Headcount In Our World

"So we just finished going through our go to market planning for FY 21. I kind of gave an understanding of our strategic segments talking about the coverage model. We have 25 roles on an account and the ratios we need saying that we have a headcount on an account, means nothing. It's about if we expect them to do a task, what is the percentage of FTE that we actually have designated to each account, into a specific account based on the needs, and what we profiled. I think that's very misleading, even across departments. And we really dig into that in great detail because for our segments, it's critically important. You know, having a headcount on it. But if that person has 40 other accounts it’s not helpful to us when we need one third of an FTE focused on doing a specific task."

Go To Market

"It's critically important because we're dealing with such a significant portion of revenue from a small number of accounts that the coverage that we have on those accounts, understanding at a very detailed level where we are in our penetration, and the solution portfolios and the sales bags of all of the different roles that we have from go to market perspective on our accounts. It's very, very data driven."

Key Insights

  • It’s art and science. Meaghan says the division of decision making is split between 80% data and 20% in field experience and engagement models. Meaghan details how her company made a few new role additions to the team with their duties and responsibilities almost entirely determined by the data. “It was down to, what do they do? You know, the RACI roles or responsibilities, and then all the data behind it - what was the number of solutions that are in this phase of our engagement model that we're covering that the customer has? Where are they in the complexity of those solutions? Where are they in the adoption? That's all data. Where are they from a revenue spend model? You know? And then by region, we had nuances. So very, very data-driven"
  • It's very, very data driven. Meaghan and her team play the data game very close to the chest. Recently, SAP made a number of acquisitions and data played a pivotal role in regards to integrating new incoming records onto their systems. The data provides insights for Meaghan and her team, and gives context to the challenge of understanding additionally acquired accounts. In particular, where those customers sit on the pipeline and the revenue that they bring. "So we're dealing with all of those challenges that most companies have, unless you're starting a company tomorrow. It's critically important because we're dealing with such a significant portion of revenue from a small number of accounts that the coverage that we have on those accounts, understanding at a very detailed level where we are in our penetration, and the solution portfolios and the sales bags of all of the different roles that we have from go to market perspective on our accounts. It's very, very data driven"
  • Start With The Data. SAP is a global corporation with many substantial clients with large solution portfolios. Meaghan and her team take on the challenge of handling key accounts with the added pressure that COVID-19 brings. The issues they face in regards to providing superior customer experience requires an ultimate understanding of the customer, interpreting the data flawlessly. "They're already substantial customers. We are landing in some areas of the company, and we are consuming, expanding and adopting in other areas of the company. So we're really looking at trying to understand where the challenge is: If we have something dropping off from consumption, adoption or renewal? Is it a product issue? Is it a coverage issue? Is it a personal issue? When you're dealing with such large accounts the impact is significant. So trying to understand those nuances, we start we always start with data."
  • Global centralized operations teams. As a large company, SAP naturally has global sales and marketing teams. Meaghan says she likes having members from those departments embedded into the business, owning and working with the data collaboratively in an operational capacity. These teams know the company back to front and meet the requirements on all partner accounts. For Meaghan, account equity is vital as all customers are viewed as equally important from a revenue standpoint. "I do like having some operations embedded in the business. I know that may not be the answer you want to hear, but I think that you have some amount of control over that and they uniquely understand your business."

Top Quotes

[04;28] "So data is very important. Everything we do if we look at our performance, we look at how we're tracking. We especially when we talk about ‘go to market’, we're very, data-driven, it's critically important."

[11:29] "We always, always start with data."

[12:57] "Global operations has to serve all, of our segments because they're all important."

[13:33] "I think that sales and marketing need to come closer together and be very close together in most organizations."

[16:38] "I think we're really fortunate because we are really strategic to customer groups that we deal with in our segments. We've been able to continue even to grow into new relationships and new areas of companies during COVID."

[17:45] "Things that worked six months ago aren't working as well today because I think people are tired of looking at the screen. And so we have to be, you know, we have to think of new ways to engage."

[22:43] "I think we have to give people the tools. We have to empower our selling organization with the right tools and the right data because most competitors have them."