How Tamara Adams, VP of Global Sales & Marketing is rearchitecting the go-to-market model to accelerate growth and shrink the selling cycle
Our team of experts from the Revenue Enablement Institute works with growth leaders to learn how leading organizations are transforming their commercial models to foster teamwork across revenue teams and become more digital, data-driven, and accountable. We regularly profile growth leaders – CXOs – who are at the forefront of defining, enabling, and leading the execution of the 21st Century Commercial Model.
Tamara Adams, VP of Global Sales & Marketing at Honeywell Connected Enterprise (HCE) has been an agent of sales transformation for most of her career. Below, I asked Tamara how her team has transformed the selling model at Honeywell over the past 18 months to achieve triple digit growth in 2020 and shrink the sales cycle by 40%.
Stephen Diorio: Honeywell is reinventing the way industries measure, analyze and run their complex operations as we pivot from manufacturing to lead the Internet of Things (IoT) software revolution.You describe Honeywell’s connected business as “the hub of innovation across Honeywell”. You were hired a year and a half ago to help Honeywell grow as an enterprise performance software business, from its legacy as a hardware product company. Can you tell us about that journey?
Tamara Adams: To start, as we make our Digital Transformation pivot, our Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk is committed to software growth as a top priority. Starting with the launch of our Honeywell Forge Enterprise Performance Management solution, he really wanted to move from a product business with fixed margins to a software model, where margins are typically double digit. So, on a scale of one to ten, I’d say growth is a #1 priority.
Our SaaS solutions, including Honeywell Forge – Enterprise Performance Management across buildings along with recently acquired Sine – visitor mobile platform, Sparta – quality management software (QMS) and other innovations from the business units, form part of our connected business for buildings. We collaborate with our partners and our counterparts in Honeywell’s other business units, which is actually a benefit because it motivates the business unit heads to work together as a team to help the software business get off the ground rather than compete.
Stephen Diorio: Other well-run industrial companies like GE have struggled to make the transformation from hardware and services to become a digital and solutions business. How were you able to make so much progress transforming Honeywell’s go-to-market approach in such a short period of time?
Tamara Adams: There were three keys to success. Speed, talent, and incentives. In a SaaS model you have to do things fast. We had to shrink the sales cycle dramatically to be effective. When I started, the lead-to-cash cycle time for selling a true subscription offering was 200 days. We were able to streamline that down to 135 days. And by packaging a “pilot in a box” we were able to generate short cycle pilots in 65 days. To do this we found ways to take advantage of historical customer data sets and use our dashboards and month-to-month visualizations to demonstrate with a fast time to value – to pay for the pilot and set the stage for a rollout.
If you don’t have the right talent around you – in terms of sales, customer success, solutions architects, account management and operations – you are not going to be able to deliver. We took a look at how we could best train, develop or re-deploy our team into roles that fit well with our selling model. Now we are bringing in the right talent to flesh out the team in areas where we have gaps.
Stephen Diorio: You also mentioned these teams need to be motivated by common purpose. You’ve evolved your incentives. But you’ve also had to reengineer the entire sales architecture – including coverage, staffing, roles, account planning, channel mix and KPI – to make the leap from a product to a software selling model. How were you able to do that?
Tamara Adams: When I joined, standalone SaaS software was a new business to Honeywell. There was little to no enterprise selling. Key account management need to be developed. And our traditional customers – facilities managers – buy assets, not software. We had to redesign our selling channels from the ground up. A key part of this was to enhance the role of our Customer Success Managers (CSMs) as a key part of the model to manage renewals and client engagement, at a lower cost of sales. To motivate them, we had to change our incentives to reflect the lifetime value of multi-year contract revenues. So, we built in robust three-to-five-year multipliers, and as a result most of our sellers are now selling three years and beyond in most of our geographies. This provides the additional benefit of making our go-to-market motion more scalable and sustainable, because a lot of these costs can be baked into our go-to-market strategies.
We’ve also had to define the role of our Key Account Management and Project Management Operations as the other big pillars of our lead-to-cash process. Today, our go-to-market model is now built around three channels – the first two being direct enterprise sellers who handle the relationship, and an inside sales channel that manages migrations and renewals. The third is a network of resellers and establishing strategic relationships with partners like SAP – who provides our customers with financial data in their real estate application.
Diorio: In terms of the future of selling, what is the role of virtual or digital selling in your current and future model? You mentioned your goal is to have somewhere up to 80% of the buying process to happen digitally. What type of progress are you making both tactically, and strategically?
Tamara Adams: In order to stay ahead of the competition, we have to demonstrate our software virtually. In a real sense, the pandemic forced us to accelerate our virtual selling efforts because it raised some big concerns about how we reach our clients without that face-to-face connection that comes from going to the office and the whole collaboration aspect of the sale. We realized we need to provide people with a more immersive experience, without having to come to our headquarters or one of the executive experience centers we’ve built. At the same time, it helped our customers visualize the need for remote building management solutions because they could not go to the office.
So, I had to answer the following question: How do I bring that immersive experience to our customer and prospect base because we can’t get together for at least the next six months? To answer this, I turned to Virtual Reality. My vision is to walk our customers into a virtual building. It looks like a video game on your laptop where you can walk through and check into the building via a mobile app, monitor air quality or look at sensors and alerts in the building. So, it’s really walking you through a day in the life of the facilities manager or a CxO using VR. In this consultative type approach, we are demonstrating the ability to run your facility from anywhere and have all the key information about your operations at your fingertips in a Honeywell Forge dashboard or a single pane of glass. It makes the point that in the current environment, you have the ability to run your operations remotely, from your home office or even a coffee shop.
Diorio: What would you say are the biggest challenges you faced as you evolve towards your vision for virtual selling?
Tamara Adams: It’s been a journey. There were some challenges, some were obvious. For example, we didn’t anticipate the rigor of defining the customer journey and the degree to which you need to version all the 3D content to execute. In order to deliver a “day in the life” experience we had to define each step of the journey in detail – from parking the car, to entering the building, to walking down the right halls to the conference rooms to demonstrate different use cases like checking air quality or building alerts. Then we had to create content from scratch by different personas and for the markets we serve. We had to create labs, retail environments, offices, distribution centers and hospitals. And in the end we created “day-in-the-life” experiences for executives, contractors, and facilities managers.
Diorio: What are the proof points that prove that you’re right. Do you have any KPIs and data that suggest this was a good investment and it’s working?
Tamara Adams: That’s a great question. That’s what I’m working on right now because we’ve established our thesis – now we’ve got to go prove it. I’m adding some KPIs to measure how this shortens the pilot cycle, how it can accelerate different sales stages. For example, can I exit discovery in 20 days versus 40 days? I’m trying to get my baseline set up right now. I can then determine what tweaks I want to make based upon the outcomes.
Diorio: This all sounds natural for a college student or millennial who grew up with a video game consol. What are your predictions for how quickly your buyers will come to expect this type of experience and “3D virtual selling” becomes a common practice?
Tamara Adams: Unless you are a gamer, a lot of what I’m talking about won’t be native to all the executives and managers we sell to. Right now, I estimate about 75% of the customers we deal with aren’t going to naturally know the navigation and how to zoom around in a VR cityscape on their own. So, we’ll create self-service scripts or short videos that customers can view to drive adoption.
But I also know we’re not going back to the old world of selling anytime soon. Many companies may move in the same direction. And in the wake of the pandemic, I think you’ll see adoption of virtual selling and buying progress faster than you think. I anticipate the percent of customers ready for this type of experience is going to grow to anywhere between 40-50% over the course of the next 12 to 18 months as people get more savvy and want a different buying experience.
You can learn more about the new generation of growth leaders and the state-of-the-art management tools, skills, capabilities, and practices they are using to accelerate revenue growth and adapt to the new buying reality at the Revenue Enablement Institute web site. You can nominate growth leaders for our CXO 100 list.
Tamara Adams is the VP of Global Sales & Marketing at Honeywell Connected Enterprise (HCE).
Stephen Diorio is the Executive Director of the Revenue Enablement Institute.