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How to get 100 live customers in a year – deliver just 1

During my SAP days, I had the privilege of working in close proximity to SAP Chairman, Hasso Plattner and I remember watching him put this simple technique into effect to launch SAP’s brand new Supply Chain solution onto the market. The date is 1998 but the technique still applies today. I hope you will see both the psychology and the mechanics of this simple technique and understand how you can apply it to your own strategic implementation.

Since 1998 I’ve successfully used this techniques many times myself and I’ve come to refer to it as ‘the Power of One’ I hope you enjoy the story that follows:

1998 was a time when the phrase ‘Supply Chain’ was starting to reverberate around industry. No-one knew precisely what it meant and the big 5 consulting houses were earning a fortune providing advice on Supply Chain to blue chip boards around the world but beyond that very few organisations understood what it meant to manage the supply chain.

And during this ‘Birth of Supply Chain’ era, Hasso stood up at a major conference and proclaimed that SAP would have 100 customers live on its Supply Chain solution within 12 months. Most of us in SAP thought he had lost his marbles because most of our customers didn’t understand this new Supply Chain and the supposed ‘Supply Chain Solution’ Hasso talked about was a mis-match of existing inventory and planning programs re-grouped into a clunky suite of modules that were a very long way from being a credible solution.

But irrespective, Hasso assembled all 48 of his country managers and told them that he expected them to have just one installation of this ‘Supply Chain Suite’ in each of their regions. Each installation would be charged at a nominal $100,000 and Country Managers would have 30% of their executive bonus riding on it.

The 30% bonus threat was the first motivating lever and every Country Manager went to talk to their favourite customer to convince them to install the Supply Chain Suite. Those customers that agreed made sure the installation was in their development environment and most Country Managers provided pro-bono technical consulting to ensure the installation was successful. And yes, each one of them came back to Hasso with $100,000 revenue from the customer (although I always suspected some creative accounting went on behind the scenes).

Hasso’s response to his Country Managers? Congratulations – – now you know how to do it, go and do it again.

And so it was that in just 6 months, Hasso could stand on stage again and proudly stick it up Oracle by proclaiming that SAP was the first software vendor in the world to have 100 live customers on its Supply Chain solution. Better still, he now had a global sales organisation that wasn’t scared of talking about Supply Chain and of course, people like me and my Sales Enablement colleagues came in with appropriate sales training, incentives and other support mechanisms to help drive further Supply Chain revenues.

BTW, That’s also where I used a revamped Monopoly Board and Lego bricks to devise a Supply Chain training game for the SAP sales teams. I wrote about that a few years back but if you are interested in knowing more; https://ift.tt/2Jw2lyE

So that’s the ‘Power of One’ in all its simplicity. If Hasso had said “I want 100 live customers by the end of the year” everyone would have said it wasn’t possible. If he had said “I want xx millions in revenue from supply chain”, everyone would have said he was crazy but when all he asked for was just one implementation from each country, every country manager turned round and said to himself ‘That’s not too difficult, I can do that’

So next time you are looking to roll out a new business strategy or asking your leadership team to achieve something they haven’t done before, all you have to do is ask them to deliver ‘just one’ Believe me,I’ve used the technique several times since 1998 and I can tell you it is successful in it’s simplicity. I hope you will think about using this technique in your own organisations and of course I’m open to talking about it in more detail if anyone want’s to drop me a note.

About Robert Heaton

Robert Heaton is Managing Director of Surefire Sales Academy, an Australian based consulting business with presence in APAC, EMEA and the Americas. Surefire consults with technology industry organisations to help turn strategic direction into operational reality and has also helped technology organisations maximise synergy and ROI by managing the integration of recent acquisitions. In addition, Surefire has recently assisted mid size European and US based technology businesses to establish a market presence in Australia.

Posted on April 9, 2018

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