Sales Operations and Enablement Professional: James Bladich of Software AG Government Solutions

James Bladich, Sales Operations and Enablement Professional of Software AG Government Solutions jumped onto the Sales Operations Demystified Podcast to share his experience and journey into sales operations. Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.

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Key Takeaways

James’ journey into sales ops

In 2000, James and his family had a contracting business; more specifically they contracted to build swimming pools. Around that time, he reflected and recognized what he wanted to do in the long run, and at that point, he got his MBA. Even though he got into a technical industry, his passion lay more withs business processes.  

He then became an analyst and worked for a company that mainly dealt with acquisitions. This is where his skills developed in different avenues of business operations. He did everything from due diligence work to sales composition and data analytics. In a few years, James led a team of 40 people doing a myriad of different tasks like enterprise sales and renewals. This is where his passion for business and sales ops got into play.

Adapting to COVID-19 and sales ops 

The first step James and his team took was shifting online wholly. Admittedly, it was an easier task because of how remote they were before the pandemic, and the epidemic just made it a necessity, says James. Another aspect of James’ team that helped in the switch was that his team was well trained and seasoned with remote connectivity, allowing for flexibility in ultimately moving into an isolated environment. A trait that can undoubtedly be attributed to proper employee training adds Bladich.

Of course, the employees as individuals need to be taken care of, the essential part of running a remote team was to figure out collaboration techniques. The team had to properly learn how to collaborate with other divisions like legal, finances, etc. This goes beyond just communication and dealings; communication tools also needed to be in sync. It needed to be made sure that everyone was working progressively via the same platforms.

Direct reports were crucial in a time like this. Strict constant over the progress and the team’s situation improved the team’s caliber as a whole but ensured that the probability of a mishap was minor. It also increased team motivation when motivation was desperately needed.  

Transformation of working processes and teams amidst COVID-19

As the dust starts to settle down, it is essential to pay tribute to what has happened over the past months. However, James emphasizes on learning from the experience of conducting a team moving solely on remote channels. While working online is generally a new and usually less effective experience, a talk with James about this showed that there is potential to discover new things that can add to the work experience. 

James’s top-rated evaluation mechanism and extraction from remote working

The first thing James talked about was the idea of recording calls. This is a feature popularized by the Zoom app, which has taken the internet by storm. James realized that recording sales calls could help them perform analytics on it. They can trace patterns, and they can recognize what the HR department lacks, etc. Furthermore, this pandemic has made James realize how easy tasks can get when distant teams are connected through a synced working platform. This has called for a change in the platform James and his team uses. 

James’s forecasting process

James believes that his team is very good at forecasting. He is not a very tech-savvy individual. Instead, James takes a pragmatic approach to technology. For James, forecasting has always been a disciplined look at the more holistic aspects of the procedures. He also believes that the numbers related to forecasting haven’t been affected by the pandemic because their sales cycle is approximately 12-18 months. This long sales cycle means that the minor discrepancies do not change the forecasting. What does change is the amount of attention paid to the joints within the pipeline? Again, this goes back to the idea that during a pandemic, what’s most important is to make sure all teams work on the same frequency. To ensure that these very scarce resources are used most efficiently, the qualifications of a deal has to be judged appropriately. That is precisely what forecasting focused more on during a pandemic.

#1 sales metric: annual growth per business unit and productivity by rep

While James mentioned a lot of different metrics like contracts released and the type of contract vehicle being used. His key metric was annual growth per business unit and productivity by rep.

James’ biggest influence:

  • James’ dad
  • Steve Biondi – Head of Channels and Alliances at Lenovo 
  • Mike Lee – American Politician
  • Art Allen – Enterprise Software Industry Entrepreneur

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