Oracle Australia's MD, Tim Ebbeck, has taken the unusual step of initiating role playing to help the computing giant's sales staff practice their conversations with customers. In fact, he regularly plonks a mannequin in front of staff to assist in the process.
“I have a dummy [mannequin] sitting in my office, and if anyone wants to come and talk to me about a customer engagement, the first thing I do is bring the dummy out and sit it on the table and the whole conversation includes that dummy," Ebbeck told CIO Australia.
“It’s a simple way of actually saying, that’s the reason we are here. We are not here to talk about our products. It’s a very simple and dramatic things like that, which people laugh about, but it’s important to make sure the conversation [is about the customer].”
Ebbeck told CIO Australia last year that despite liking the company's technology, organisations didn't like dealing with Oracle. Ebbeck, who has been in the role since last January, set about making changes to improve engagement and the way staff approach customers.
When he came on board over a year ago, siloed lines of business and disjointed reporting lines were resulting in customers being bombarded with different Oracle sales staff talking to them. All business lines are now reporting to Ebbeck, who has vowed to improve how staff approach customers.
“Our product areas [operated in a very] rigid way and it meant that there was little focus in the organisation on collaboration and putting the customer at the centre of every discussion.
“We still got a way to go, but the feedback I’m getting from customers is they are seeing a very significant improvement.”
One initiative to improve how staff engage with customer is an a regular internal ‘cloud week’, with the first instalment of this taking place two weeks ago in Sydney.
Ebbeck interviewed customers in front of staff from all lines of business – including sales, operations, support and finance – to demonstrate how to conduct conversations that focus on the customer’s mission and business directions.
“It’s just a constant reinforcement the more we get customers engaged in the discussion, the more that we understand their requirements,” he said.
Ebbeck said he has also increased open dialogue with customers by regularly inviting them into the office or meeting them to have frank conversations about Oracle’s delivery in helping them achieve the next step forward in their business goals.
“We have customer in the office almost every day of the week now,” Ebbeck said.
The company has also formed a partner advisory board, which is chaired by Ebbeck, to help improve engagements with partners. A new enterprise architectural team – which oversees different product lines – is ensuring technical solutions are built to provide outcomes that customers need.
Finally, Oracle is adding 1000 new sales staff across Asia Pacific to support growth and demand for its cloud solutions.