The Village View

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer Sales & North Carolina

One of the reasons I took my job in the Office of the CFO (or more properly, the CFO Center of Excellence) at SAP was to learn how a leading enterprise application software maker goes to market (I also want to understand how large companies make the purchasing the decisions). Last week, I attend the Summer Sales Meeting in DC. A couple of thoughts I have coming out of the meeting:
  • Bill McDermott is inspirational. Now I know that you're not exactly shocked to hear me say this given that he signs my paychecks, but I gotta tell ya, every time I hear the guy speak I'm impressed. Usually you dread having to listen to any keynotes at large corporate events, but I enjoyed listening to his vision. Also, he's straightforward about his expectations: satisfied customers and making the numbers. Ok, I can wrap my arms around that.
  • An SAP Account Executive has an unbelievable number of resources to assist in the sales cycle. Depending on the product, he/she may have an overlay account executive, pre-sales, value engineering, solution principal, industry principal, product marketing. Customers (rightly) have high expectations, and an AE can draw on a lot of experts to help in the cycle.
  • The SAP ecosystem is extensive and knowledgeable. I talked to several partners at the meeting and then at a customer meeting later in the week. Some of the folks working at these firms have an unbelievable grasp of the SAP products down to a very granular level. Since I didn't come up through SAP consulting or implementation like my manager and some of my colleagues, I learn a lot from talking to these guys.
And now for something completely different: I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the state of North Carolina. My best friend recently moved from outside of Raleigh to outside of Asheville. As I had a work meeting in Charlotte on Thursday, I drove up and spent the last two nights with him and his wife. We went into Asheville last night, had dinner and walked around. When I was a kid we had a cabin in the mountains outside of Burnsville, which is not to far from Asheville (btw, if you go up into the mountains in this area, it's chock full of Floridians escaping the summer heat). Anyway, I hadn't been there in 20 years. All I can say is: wow. Counterintuitively, Asheville is like a hippy town. There were folks banging drums and jumping around in a park downtown. We ate at the Tupelo Honey Cafe which I had read about in a NY Times article. I had an awesome mountain trout. Afterwards, we walked around checked out the Art Deco city hall and more traditional court house next door. They are working on a new park and some new buildings downtown as well (much to the dismay of some local Wiccans that were placing protection charms on a magnolia tree slated for removal). Long story short, if you get a chance to visit do.

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