Cisco's Global Virtual Sales Organization's Innovative Approach to Sales

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Company: Cisco Systems Inc, San Jose, CA
Company Description: Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. At Cisco customers come first and an integral part of our DNA is creating long-lasting customer partnerships and working with them to identify their needs and provide solutions that support their success.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Award for Innovation in Sales

Nomination Title: Cisco's Global Virtual Sales Organization's Innovative Approach to Sales

Tell the story about your organization's innovations in sales or business development since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

The Global Virtual Sales Organization (GVSO) is Cisco’s highly efficient and innovative sales scaling engine, delivering low-touch coverage to capture the burgeoning global mid-market opportunity. Located in 49 countries with over 1000 sales reps and over 600 engineering resources, GVSO serves over one million customers worldwide across 38 languages.

By exploiting collaboration technologies and cooperative sales approaches, GVSO delivers exceptional productivity whilst capturing new sales in territories with little or no prior coverage, as well as remote locations. As a result, GVSO is the fastest growing sales team at Cisco, consistently delivering double-digit growth for the past few years and is the most profitable coverage model in the company.

Last year, GVSO deployed many innovative technologies and approaches to accelerate sales, increase productivity and drive growth. For example, the Virtual Customer Briefing Center allowed the virtual sales team to deliver live product demos to any location in the world including remote partner offices and customer’s home offices. Also, the Jabber Click to Chat integration with Salesforce allows GVSO’s sales reps to interact seamlessly with customers and partners. It embeds interaction management within the CRM platform to support four million conversations across the virtual sales organization to tie every conversation to a business outcome. For every customer, opportunity or lead, it is now possible to tie effort to results. This has created 180,000hrs of extra capacity in one year and is now used by the engineering teams to interact with customers.

The marketplace is changing and customers today are much further along in their purchase decisions at the point when they engage us, so it’s critical for us to influence that pre-sales cycle. Last year, GVSO launched ‘Social Selling’, enabling the virtual sellers to showcase their expertise in Virtual Selling profiles, which was then shared with Cisco’s customers. This establishes the sellers as experts in their field, as well as advocates for Cisco. The result was 40 million sales qualified leads, 120,000 new contacts and 50,000 Virtual Seller page views. This year, GVSO is expanding that innovation by integrating it with Salesforce.com and LinkedIn data.

Another innovative approach was how Cisco effectively tracked video conversations and the impact of a video message to a deal. GVSO co-developed a solution with a cutting-edge start-up to record/edit/share branded videos with customers and track success metrics in salesforce.com. The impact on the business is significant reduction in video preparation/sharing from 30 to 3 minutes while improving the click-through rates by 15x click and the response rates by 5x.

Furthermore, partnerships with other functions have expanded sales effectiveness. By leveraging Distributors to get partners to sell into uncovered accounts, Cisco has successfully scaled its sales reach whilst maintaining lower margins. With Marketing, GVSO has extended reasons to call campaigns to Channel Partners and drove innovation in lead generation. In further collaboration with Marketing, Cisco built a platform to tie marketing “signal to buy” to actionable insights for sales representatives and allowing GVSO to focus on the most relevant opportunities. This improved the call- to- opportunity ratio from 17:1 to 8:1.

GVSO is seen as a talent engine for the field sales teams: a controlled feed of well-trained sales professionals able to make the transition from the virtual to the Field sales environment. These transitions would normally create a significant disruption to the business. Last year, the company sponsored a new talent-development program, code-named Ignite that has enabled the company to strategically over-hire early-in-career reps from non-hub locations and has provided proper onboarding and training. This has allowed Cisco to fill any virtual sales openings anywhere within a two week turnaround.

Last year saw the launch of a “Bottom up innovation” initiative to drive transformation right from the front lines. Some examples include making Internet coverage available to rural Germany and launching a flagship Digital High School for a school district in the US. Creating a culture of innovation is truly what this organization is about.

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