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SAP uses HR team members as sales force

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The HR technology giant is sending its HR staff to sell products to clients. Janet Wood, VP of global HR explains why.

Systems provider SAP is using members of its HR team to sell its products by sending them to speak to clients about their experiences. SAP executive VP of global HR Janet Wood told HR magazine it makes sense to use colleagues seen as “trusted experts” to speak to potential customers. 

“People from HR are really enjoying the challenge,” she said. “Getting out there as consultants with the sales team is something they relish.”

The growth of cloud-based technology has increased the amount of customer interaction, making HR team members more valuable to commercial success. 

“You think about customer interactions and you think about customers buying the product as a success,” Wood said. “In the cloud it’s a little bit different. You need to be in constant contact with the customer.” 

Another way that HR can influence sales, more indirectly is to embed the idea of simplicity and clarity into the company, she added. This can be done through influencing leadership and ensuring every member of staff lives these behaviours, which leads to improved relationships with both internal and external customers, Wood explained.

“There are global initiatives in this, but my message is around what individuals can do,” she said. “Every one of us can simplify within our sphere of influence. It’s how you schedule a meeting, who you invite, do you understand your goals? Don’t wait for someone to come and simplify the environment for you.”

Wood comes from a sales background, having worked previously in direct sales for IBM and in indirect sales for SAP before moving to HR. She says that one of the biggest surprises on joining HR was the scope of the work.

“From recruitment onwards, through the career lifecycle, it’s a lot broader than people realise,” she said. “HR is also heavily involved in leading success for the company. It’s a lot more work and pressure than people think. 

She added that the tight deadlines HR functions are constantly working to would surprise many people. “HR are always the ones rolling it out, getting everything in place and making sure the business is properly enabled for the next challenge,” she said.