Soccer team in a huddle

Lessons in Global Sales from a 1965 Sports Car

December 16, 2015 by John Ward 66

“To get in your car and do some driving . . . that’s a good time to be out,” muses Rob Vissers as he climbs behind the wheel of his beautifully maintained 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 sports car.

Vissers, who is deputy director of global customer coordination at BOA Group, takes great pride in his classic automobile.

Summer weekends are often spent participating in sports car rallies. During the winter months, he performs most of the necessary maintenance in his own garage.

“In a modern car, you can’t work it yourself anymore,” Vissers says, referring to the complexity and inaccessibility of today’s auto engines. “Here, it’s just simple.”

And as Vissers goes on to explain, running simple is something that both his automobile and the company he works for have in common.

Aiming for Global Consistency

BOA Group manufactures flexible mechanical components for a variety of automotive, aerospace, and industrial applications. These products include expansion joints and bellows, metal hoses, and stainless steel parts used in the exhaust and fuel systems of both passenger cars and heavy vehicles. Headquartered in Germany, the group consists of 15 subsidiaries and has sales and service offices in most industrial countries worldwide.

“We have a lot of global customers,” Vissers says. “And they expect to receive the same information and level of service from us across all their locations.”

A worldwide customer base is a good “problem” to have. But Vissers knows that globalizing sales processes can be as complex as overhauling a modern computerized auto engine.

For BOA, the simple approach was rolling out the SAP Cloud for Sales solution to support worldwide transparency and consistency, greater accuracy, and faster response times.

Hitting the Road with Real-Time Information

In his role with global customer coordination, Vissers sees first-hand what BOA’s international customers really want.

“The most important thing for selling our products is speed of response to our customers,” Vissers notes. “They’re expecting ever-faster response times in quotations, in technical answers, and in deliveries.”

To achieve this level of service, BOA’s salespeople need constant access to a wide variety of information – such as product specifications, quotations, order histories, and up-to-date contact information. In the past, however, most of this information was maintained at the local level.

That changed when the company decided to consolidate the data through the single cloud-based sales solution.

“Now our salespeople have real-time access to this information on a global scale,” says Vissers. “And by using their mobile devices, the information is available whenever they need it – even while they are on the road.”

Vissers, in fact, uses the tool himself on a daily basis to enter opportunities, track orders, and feed information back to the office for further analysis. He also points out that having this sales and customer data all in one place helps BOA generate more-accurate sales forecasts, which in turn results in better production planning.

Enjoying the Simple Pleasures

Back on the road, Vissers is steering his British racing green Austin-Healey down a quiet country lane.

“What I like most about old cars is that they are very simple and very direct,” Vissers says. “You still get the proper feeling of driving, but they are also much easier to maintain.”

Avoiding unnecessary complexity is a concept that Vissers believes applies as much to business as it does to automobiles.

“I think the simplicity of old cars shows you that sometimes simple is very good and can be better than being too complicated.”

Please join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.

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This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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