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Management Motivations: Complex sales rely on expertise to keep the process on track

Management Motivations is a new series of articles by Quectel’s senior executives that explores their management styles, approaches to the challenges of further developing the company and what drives them to lead and succeed.

No.3: Complex sales rely on expertise to keep the process on track

Quectel offers a portfolio of complex products with many variants. An automotive manufacturer, for example, will have a different set of requirements than a manufacturer of home alarms. Quectel has to provide technical subject matter expertise to guide a customer to the portion of our road map that best serves their specific product plans.

An even bigger challenge is to evolve the sales structure to match the increasingly globally distributed approach of US OEM device makers. The world is indeed no longer flat and most companies have set up their global sales teams under a no longer relevant assumption that all decision making occurs in one specific geography. The new normal is quite different as fewer US and Canadian device makers manufacture and exclusively develop their products in the US. OEMs face pressures from investors and the investment markets to a work to a model where any device makers R&D capabilities are both in the US, primarily for software development, and in Asia primarily for, but not limited to, hardware development. It’s therefore simply not good enough to be strong in supporting customers in the US & Canada alone. The off-shore R&D locations doing hardware development also require equivalent support and we’re in an excellent position to provide this. Almost all Quectel’s western managers have had responsibility for the Asia region in the past, some have even lived in the region. We know how to connect the dots in a seamless manner with our colleagues serving the OEMs, offshore R&D, design firms, and ODM partners.

It is incredibly important, as globalization continues, to act as one company with a well-coordinated global approach that is supported by good processes and reporting. Traditional western cellular module vendors are declining and that’s likely to be in part due to an over-emphasis on supporting the US HQ entity as if they remain in a globalized world as the sole decision maker/influencer. Quectel has, at the very least, an equivalent presence with the US OEMs to our western competitors. Comparatively those same western competitors are not anywhere near as well-established in the offshore regions that perform R&D. The model is shifting to where US OEMs rely on input gathered from multiple touch points across the globe all of whom require local Quectel points of contact. Our large headcount, supported by a widening dominance in market share, affords Quectel a substantial advantage in local personnel to provide sales and support coverage.

On top of awareness of the global market, product and technical knowledge is still the essential baseline for sales success. Every North America based regional sales manager executing our sales management process and methodology competes to win competitor accounts.  Quectel North America enables a peer for those sales managers whose role is the technical interface to the customers. This helps in bringing them over to Quectel because it means a customer’s CTO, vice president of R&D, product manager or hardware or software engineer can have a peer level interface that understands their needs in the requisite technical depth.

For every potential OEM device maker customer there are multiple competitors promoting their module portfolio, however only one module vendor can win the deal we compete for. The market has also badly needed a market entrant to deliver never seen before scale to drive volume-based price elasticity. It is not good enough to set relaxed standards more in line with the status quo, than what it will actually take to be the market maker. This means that Quectel’s ambition to exceed $1B in annual module sales, must be supported by industry leading process that is documented, measured, and executed upon. Having an entire team with varying degrees of experience and creativity that is trying to reinvent the wheel delivers varying levels of success.

Standardizing the process through documentation is a vital element to the Quectel NA methodology. You could not imagine the number of salespeople who had never even previously been required to construct a list of the competitor accounts for their region that makes up their total available market (TAM) ranked from largest to smallest. For Quectel to serve the overall market rather than a handful of the market players, we need to provide new salespeople with the tools and the foundation base in a teachable format. They need to come to the table knowing that the expectation is that they will follow that process, and that they will be measured and encouraged to achieve much higher expectations than at lesser performing competitors. Our model is to set the highest benchmark standards for each KPI as a high-performance culture is necessary for producing extraordinary results. This results in a substantially more demanding environment, but this is offset by the opportunity provided by the financial and other benefits of being a leader in the industry.

I think this process and methodology is so important that in the past I have written a book called ‘Selling Modules for Smarties’. Today I work for Quectel’s chief sales officer and president, Norbert Muhrer, whom I first worked for in 2006 when he took over as CEO of Siemens Wireless Modules. At that time, we had no global CRM or database of target prospects, no automated sales funnel defining each prospect by the stage, and we were using Excel with thousands of lines and formula errors for forecasts.

As my management experience centered on market share development through the implementation of sales management structure, while at Siemens Norbert had me implement the CRM and reporting tools later memorialized in the Selling Modules for Smarties handbook. The America’s region which I launched the North America portion of, was the fastest growing and eventually largest region under this model.  After Siemens spun out to become Cinterion and eventually became Gemalto M2M, Norbert made me the executive global head of sales. As my role was to implement the best practices and structure, each country manager under my responsibility was given the Selling Modules for Smarties book as a guideline. The same success we had first achieved in growing the NAFTA market also occurred in the global regions under my direction that implemented the methodology.

At Quectel North America, the dramatic growth has happened once again, just a lot faster this time. The difference being that in addition to fundamentally sound documented process to capture market share through the capture of competitor accounts, Quectel enabled the region with a larger and faster portfolio, a massive R&D and engineering support organization to do customizations and integration topics, and a company culture focused on global customer satisfaction which has resulted in the growth we now see.

Look out for my next blog in this series: “Work hard together to develop life-long successful relationships”.