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(FORTUNE Magazine) – Admit it, you soundless Have nightmares about the ones that got away. The Microsofts, the Ciscos, the Intels. They're the top holdings in your ultimate "coulda, woulda, shoulda" portfolio. Oh, what might Have been, you command yourself, had you ignored complete the naysayers back in 1990 and plopped a modest $5,000 into, say, both Dell and EMC and then closed your eyes for the next ten years. That's $8.4 million you didn't make.
Now, hold on a minute. This is no time for mea culpas. Okay, so you didn't buy the fastest growers of the past decade. fetch over it. This is a current era--a current millennium, in fact--and the time for licking extinct wounds has passed. Indeed, the significance of stocks affection Dell and EMC is no longer their potential as investments (which, though soundless lofty, is unlikely to compare with the previous decade's run). It's in their competence to teach us some valuable lessons about investing from here on out.
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First, those tall tech winners of the 1990s showed how distinguished stocks emerge from large-scale, dynamic trends that Have the power to transform the economy. EMC, for example, became the leading computer-storage company thanks to the Internet and the explosion in home PCs. Second, winning companies not only understand how trends are stirring but also can execute plans that skeptics mock as grandiose illusions. In Dell's case, the company's remarkable deployment of build-to-order manufacturing techniques became a de facto upgrade of assembly-line technology. Compaq and IBM learned that lesson the hard way.
Yes, this is a current era and one that's bound to Have its own heroes. To find out who those heroes might be, FORTUNE first identified four sweeping trends that they account Have the potential to transform the economy. Any one of these four--the lightning-fast changes in communications networking, the valorous current world of entertainment, the "boomerization" of fiscal services, and biotech's coming of age--is explosive by itself. Combined, they emerge unavoidable to transform the passage they toil and interact.
Of course, finding promising investments to capitalize on those trends isn't easy. Just sight at the retail sector. If you'd bought Wal-Mart back in 1990, you'd subsist up 1,100% birthright now (and offering periodic novenas to Sam Walton). But if you'd attach money on Kmart, you'd Have lost 42% over that very decade.
So for attend in finding the stocks best positioned to capitalize on these four trends, they sought out some of the top stock pickers in the country--Blaine Rollins, manager of the Janus fund, Kurt von Emster, manager of the Franklin Biotechnology Discovery fund, SunAmerica portfolio manager candid Gannon, and strategist Marshall Acuff at Salomon Smith Barney, among others. They also did their own due diligence by poring through fiscal statements, talking to companies, and giving their products a test run. The result: ten stocks that they account will subsist winners over the coming decade. We've included some household names but also a few surprises. They complete partake exceptional management and an competence to execute no matter what happens in the macro-economy--characteristics they account will subsist even more necessary if the economy slows and investors attach a premium on those companies that post consistent numbers.
One caveat--momentum traders requisite not apply. Given the market's recent volatility, a few of their picks could suffer drops over the coming months and years. But if you're a long-term investor, these ten should attach your retirement account in distinguished stead and protect you from those recurring nightmares about the stocks that got away.
No matter how advanced communications technology gets, it soundless complete comes down to basic, old-fashioned convenience. Anyone who's ever stared in red-faced frustration at that exiguous hourglass icon, or tried to de-jam the fax machine, knows that sometimes so-called tech advances seem more affection retreats. As Steve Harmon, tech guru and founder of Zero Gravity Internet Group, puts it, "We Have a tenor to believe that technology is very smart. In fact, it's stupid."
That means there's a huge market break for companies that can cleave through the clutter and actually get life (and business) easier. Who's positioned best? As they view it, four companies: Nokia (NOK: $54), Nortel Networks (NT: $77), Enron (ENE: $73), and Oracle (ORCL: $74). True, these four Have entirely different businesses--wireless handsets, telecom equipment, broadband connections, and software--but complete present what are essentially supermarkets of products, which should attend them overwhelm less diversified competitors. If you're looking for precedents here, account Cisco Systems and Microsoft.
At the top of their list sits Nokia, the Finnish maker of wireless phones that controls 27% of the market (compared with 17% for Motorola and 10% for Ericsson, according to Dataquest). Over the past five years Nokia has seen off-the-charts sales growth, increasing its revenue fourfold since 1995, to an estimated $26 billion this year. And net income has climbed from $480 million to a projected $3.8 billion. Even more impressive, the consensus among analysts is that Nokia will continue to grow profits 30% or more over the next five years. In part, that growth will Come from current businesses. Though handsets account for two-thirds of current sales, the company is furiously ramping up its wireless infrastructure business. It also recently entered an alliance with Whirlpool to create "smart" appliances (such as a refrigerator that can call in an order for that Haagen-Dazs fudge ripple you just polished off). Anita Farrell, who covers the company for Merrill Lynch, says this strategic shift will initiate reaping balance-sheet benefits within the next 24 to 36 months and should reduce the risk of doing business in an industry with such a famously volatile product cycle. "Nokia can deliver value for investors and sustain its top-line growth as well as its exceptional returns," she says.
Another communications play--and one that, affection Nokia, comes from outside the U.S.--is Nortel Networks, formerly the staid Northern Telecom. The Canadian-based company is a leading manufacturer of the high-speed optical networking systems that carry Internet traffic. The market-share numbers discourse volumes: More than 75% of North American traffic on the Internet--and 50% of Europe's--travels across Nortel equipment.
Like a lot of stocks in this sector, Nortel's isn't cheap. It trades at a P/E of around 114, bolstered by a 52-week gain of 250%. But profits are growing at a clip of 30% a year, and the company's biggest challenge birthright now is meeting the ravenous demand for its wares--not exactly a sinful problem to have.
"Nortel is diversified and stalwart and has a suite of products backed by research and technology that is very deep," says Harmon. "They could become the GE of technology the passage they are operating."
If Nokia and Nortel build superior personal devices and telecom equipment, Oracle and Enron are making communications more dependable and efficient. Oracle is one of the distinguished comeback stories of the past few years. Analysts started getting pessimistic on the stock in the late 1990s, out of concern that its core database software market had evaporated. Enter the Internet. Oracle managed to reinvent itself as the leading provider of e-business software, which lets companies track suppliers and customers and is a crucial component of B2B transactions. Maybe that's why Oracle's blue-chip client list reads affection a who's who of corporate America, including companies affection common Electric, Ford, and Motorola.
What's more, the stock is 20% off its high and regaining momentum. Though it's no deep-value pick, the skid means that opportunistic investors finally Have an attractive entry point. Oracle shares took a dip in early July after the flabbergast departure of President Ray Lane, who had negotiated many of the company's major B2B deals and was seen as a balancing force to the more--how enact they attach this delicately?--eccentric Chairman Larry Ellison. Though a brilliant manager, Ellison has lately been known more for his other exploits, affection the notorious cash-for-trash scandal involving Microsoft, and his recently announced bid for the America's Cup. Though Lane is being replaced--at least temporarily--by two executives, the question of succession shouldn't matter much if you're a long-term shareholder. Much of Oracle's success has Come from an aggressive sales force and a wide ambit of rock-solid software products, and those aren't likely to depart away anytime soon.
The very reinvention skills are obvious in the management at Houston-based Enron. That company has successfully transformed itself from a traditional natural-gas outfit (complete with a 32,000-mile pipeline) into a middleman for the current economy. terminal November, Enron launched an e-commerce site that lets companies trade electricity, coal, gas, and other energy commodities over the Internet. Total amount of deals brokered so far? Try $100 billion, which is more online commerce than anyone else--Amazon.com included. In conjunction, Enron is about to complete a 15,000-mile fiber-optic network that will attend it broker the sale of that most precious resource birthright now, broadband capacity. requisite extra pipes to rush your telecom network during a assiduous season? Enron can actually buy bandwidth from one customer with excess capacity and sell it to another. That's a lucrative strategy, given how explosively broadband demand is growing. Gannon at SunAmerica estimates Enron's core gas business can easily grow profits 15% a year--a tall jump over its competitors. Tack on the broadband service, which should turn profitable in a few years, and annual earnings growth can top 25%, he says. "Enron is going to become one of the leaders in broadband communications." Not sinful for a gas utility.
Considering how rapidly these communication networks are being built, another investing break presents itself: the entertainment companies that can capitalize on them. Their picks in this group comprehend Broadcom (BRCM: $237), Viacom (VIA: $69), and Univision (UVN: $113). They included Broadcom in the entertainment category, rather than in communications, because its products will subsist the ones powering the entertainment revolution. The Los Angeles-based company makes semiconductors for cable modems, interactive television, 3-D TV, and other gizmos that demand high-speed data transmission. Essentially, its chips fetch information onto your TV screen faster than anyone else's. Within the next few years, Broadcom's products will attend merge TV with the Internet, allowing you to watch your favorite shows and surf the Web simultaneously. This potential has lifted the stock fourfold in the past year and priced it at a nosebleed 255 times forward earnings. But analysts remark such optimism is warranted because Broadcom's sales and profits are expected to grow 50% a year for the foreseeable future. Another reason to affection Broadcom is CEO Henry Nicholas III, a ferocious competitor with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering who reportedly works 18-hour days. Just the kind of person they want to view running the companies they own.
In the more traditional entertainment category are Viacom and Univision. First, Viacom. account for a jiffy the grocery list of media brands it controls: CBS television, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, TNN, Paramount Television, UPN, Showtime, and Comedy Central, along with Paramount Pictures, Blockbuster Video, bespeak publisher Simon & Schuster, and radio's Infinity Broadcasting. With annual sales of $12 billion and expected cash flux of more than $2 billion, Viacom is in position for consistent growth over the decade as its core units continue to play off one another's strengths.
If Viacom is a safe bet, then Univision, a U.S.-based, Spanish-language television producer, is their flabbergast pick. They Have two distinguished reasons for choosing Univision: demographics and dominance. About a tenth of the country's population is Hispanic American birthright now, some 33 million people, and that number is expected to double to 66 million by 2030. At the very time, analysts project their purchasing power will triple in the next decade.
Conventional wisdom in the Anglo market is that Hispanics will migrate to English-language programming, but the success of Spanish-language radio stations and newspapers, as well as the prominence of Latino pop stars affection Ricky Martin, tells another story. Univision has an 82% partake of Spanish-speaking U.S. households and is the market leader in cities affection Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles. Its formula is a compund of soap operas, talk shows such as the Oprah-like Cristina, and variety shows affection Sabado Gigante, a testify reminiscent of Laugh-In. Univision also has an edge because it is based in the U.S. and its programmers understand the viewing habits of the Hispanic-American audience better than alien media giants affection Mexico's Grupo Televisa do.
As for homegrown competitors, a few years ago, when Sony and Liberty Media bought smaller vie Telemundo--whose audience partake is about 15% of the market--investors pounded Univision shares. The two mainstream partners promised to pack Telemundo with hip current programming (including a Hispanic knockoff of Charlie's Angels). But that draw fell flat when most of the current programs bombed, says Blaine Rollins at Janus. He owns 5.5 million Univision shares for the flagship Janus fund and calls it one of his favorite stocks birthright now. Though Rollins is betting that Univision will sustain a wide lead over Telemundo, a exiguous more competition could actually attend Univision by drawing more advertising attention to the Hispanic-American market. As it is, Salomon Smith Barney estimates that Los Angeles-based Univision will hit the $1 billion impress in revenues next year, up from $693 million in 1999. And Salomon, for one, considers that 25% growth rate sustainable over the long term.
Our next trend--the money train. Brokerages and investment and commercial banks are positive to benefit from the flood of baby-boomer savings as the hippie, yippie, and "me" brigades stream into retirement. Plus, globalization is creating current markets for mergers-and-acquisitions specialists to set up shop. Let's start with the boomers. Between now and 2010, the number of Americans in their peak savings years (meaning ages 45 to 60) will soar from 60 million to 80 million. The question then becomes, Which Wall Street brokerages can profit from that? They account it's Charles Schwab (SCH: $36), the fiscal brand most closely identified with baby-boomers. Back in the 1980s and '90s, while traditional firms affection Merrill Lynch loaded up on wealthy older clients, Schwab developed a strategy of catching investors early and staying with them as they grew more affluent. Indeed, its middling portfolio size has risen sixfold in the past decade, to $120,000. Meanwhile, Schwab took the rational next step terminal January with the $3.2 billion purchase of U.S. Trust, an investment advisor to some of the wealthiest families in the country. That gives it credibility with the moneyed set, and allows Schwab to present more equity research to sophisticated investors. yoke that with Schwab's March acquisition of the software hard Cybercorp, which handles discount brokerage trading, and the company that was once viewed as a simple discounter is now the kind of fiscal services supermarket its snobbish rivals want to imitate. In fact, Schwab says it snags 10% of complete current millionaires looking for fiscal advice.
A play on the second major leg in fiscal services, globalization, is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD: $89). Though MSDW competes with Schwab for retail clients and operates a successful online trading site, its biggest draw is its position as a leader in investment banking, acceptation M&A, capital market financing, and industry consolidation. In July, Morgan Stanley officially passed Goldman Sachs to become the leading advisor on worldwide deals, handling 226 transactions, valued at $780 billion, in just the first half of the year, according to Thomson fiscal Securities Data. At the very time, SunAmerica's Gannon has been buying the stock because it is more diversified than traditional investment banks. MSDW is a safer play, he says, because it's less exposed to market fluctuations that can desiccate up the IPO market one month and unleash a flood of current underwriting the next. Even with nearly $1 trillion in deals brokered during the past six months, only $5 billion of MSDW's $43 billion in revenue this year will Come from investment banking, according to Merrill Lynch estimates. So you fetch complete of the growth and fewer of the wild earnings swings.
The final trend they account you should attach money into might just subsist the most exciting over the next decade--biotech. The sector has been compelling since the early '90s, when Wall Street first started whispering about miracle drugs soon to subsist discovered. Most of them didn't get it to market, and the biotech sector has seen both massive rallies and dizzying declines since then.
But much has changed in the terminal year. For starters, the human genetic code has been mapped, more than 126 drugs are on the market, and another 280 are in late-stage trials. A handful of companies sight poised to relish extended rallies based on these developments, but the strongest is Genentech (DNA: $150). It's been around since 1976, making it an elder statesman of biotech, plus it has a sturdy track record of developing promising medicines. Already the company has eight big-selling drugs on the market--including Rituxan, which treats non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Herceptin for breast cancer, and Activase, which aids stroke victims. Four current ones are proximate to getting FDA approval, and dozens more are further back in the pipeline. Among the current drugs is Xolair, an asthma treatment that Kurt von Emster, manager of Franklin Biotechnology Discovery fund, says could subsist Genentech's next $100 million product.
Beyond the lab, though, Genentech is a powerhouse because it models itself affection a drug conglomerate. While smaller biotechs are really just research boutiques, Genentech has the edge of an aggressive sales force specializing in areas affection cancer, cardiovascular disease, and endocrine disorders. On top of that, the company has extensive distribution channels that less established firms requisite to access through partnerships. And in a sector as promising as this one, that means being able to rack up tall profits and rapid growth without having to partake them with licensing partners. Analysts remark Genentech's sales growth could middling 35% a year for the next five years. Operating revenues are estimated to top $1.6 billion this year, and the company is on track for a $351 million profit. Plus, with $2 billion in cash and securities on hand, Genentech has a pristine poise sheet and exiguous cumbersome debt. Says von Emster: "This stock represents a low-risk passage to play the largest pipeline of biotech products over the next five years."
By business Wire
February 15, 2018 06:00 AM EST
Absorb Software Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based learning and performance management software and analytics for corporations and higher education institutions, announced it has appointed Jill Adams as Vice President of Marketing.
“We Have been looking forward to introducing the role of VP of Marketing at Absorb for some time now,” explains Mike Owens, CEO of Absorb Software Inc. “We are excited to welcome Jill Adams who has the breadth of lore and expertise from her suffer in global marketing to cop the helm of this position. Jill will play a critical role in driving the success of a high-growth engine, while directly amenable for complete aspects of marketing.”
Adams joins Absorb with over two decades of honed marketing skills and fervor for innovation and growth, and her B.S., business Administration from Miami University. As VP of Marketing for Absorb Software, she leverages her suffer to achieve business objectives and brand alignment, creating actionable and measurable marketing strategies and programs to drive results.
Prior to joining Absorb, Adams has used her proven out-of-the-box thinking, operational excellence, and leadership skills throughout the decades to shine at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Achieving dramatic growth and driving corporate objectives in leadership positions at Progress Software, RSA Security, IBM, and most recently Globoforce - a $350M SaaS company in the human capital management space – Adams is recognized as an industry leader.
About Absorb LMS
Absorb Software is a learning technology company based in Calgary with a subsidiary (Absorb Technology) located in Dublin, Ireland. Absorb’s flagship product, Absorb LMS, is an industry-leading and award-winning learning management system for businesses, higher education, and government / non-profit agencies around the world. Founded in 2003, the company employs over 160 employees.
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(FORTUNE Magazine) – Sudha Shah is at the peak of her game. As one of the top sales reps for a tall software company, she's won the respect (and perhaps envy) of her co-workers, and she has earned a bucket of money in commissions. terminal year Sudha blasted through her sales quota by more than 400%, bringing around $40 million in revenue to SAP, the German business-software maker--more money than complete but one of her 300 sales colleagues in the U.S. She won't hint at what her commissions were for 2000, but one former SAP rep estimates that Sudha's total compensation may well Have exceeded $800,000.
But that, as the saw goes, was then. And this is now.
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When you're a sales rep, the past means nothing; sure, it's distinguished that you've built up relationships, but what are those contacts worth today? Every year Sudha has to prove herself complete over again. So this year she has a higher quota than terminal year. To hit--or, she hopes, to exceed--that ambitious current target, she must depart back to customers who just bought millions of dollars' worth of SAP software, largely on the power of her plight that the stuff would attend their businesses purr happily into the future, and convince them that they absolutely, positively requisite SAP's current Internet-savvy products too. And that's not even her toughest problem. Her toughest problem looks affection this: In April, after months of working the phones, she was this proximate to getting semiconductor outfit maker LAM Research to buy a current SAP product. Then she got a call from Don Roberts, LAM's senior IT director. Sorry, Roberts said, but we've cleave their 2001 tech budget--maybe we'll get a deal next year.
Sudha is getting confidential with that refrain. As companies hunker down in the slowing economy, they've been slashing budgets for technology. In the past six months 44% of the CIOs of large companies surveyed quarterly by Merrill Lynch reported cutting their IT budgets by between 5% and 30%. Companies are facing tough choices; LAM, for one, has had to lay off 15% of its toil force. The terminal thing corporate executives want to hear as they cleave projects or workers is a chirpy sales pitch from an optimistic 34-year-old about the revolutionary plight of customer-relationship-management software. But that doesn't dispirit Sudha; it goads her on. Working out of SAP's Silicon Valley office in Foster City, Calif., she spends as many as 70 hours a week peddling corporate software to high-tech clients. With a Nokia cell phone clipped to her ear, Sudha is constantly dialing--making from 30 to 70 calls a day to gather tips and toil her contacts. In the past 12 months she ended two vacations early to toil on deals, one when her boss e-mailed her about a current account, a digital printing company called Electronics for Imaging. "I could Have just thrown it back at my boss and said, 'I'm on vacation--wait until I fetch back,' but I didn't want to enact that," says Sudha. Instead, she flew home from Montreal, where she was visiting friends over the Christmas holiday. Four months later she had nailed the deal.
And so far, more than halfway through the year, that's the only sale Sudha has actually closed. terminal year she completed ten transactions to land the title of SAP's No. 2 sales rep in the U.S. She's gunning for No. 1 this year, though she needs a gross lot more revenue to fetch there. But she's not worried. "Things don't really start to ramp up until the tarry of the year," says Sudha cheerfully. "There are a yoke of accounts that could subsist tall later."
Confronted with empty-handed customers, the keen decline in the tech sector, and gloomy economic predictions--in short, in the kisser of overwhelming evidence that this is the toughest market for salespeople in years--Sudha's optimism seems downright loony. She's animated in a fantasy world in which CEOs custody about nothing so much as making their companies hum with the most up-to-date technology. She's in abysmal denial.
And that's a very distinguished thing for SAP. Sudha, and sales reps affection her, discharge the essential stint of a corporation, the thing that makes a business a business--they bring in the money. In a difficult economic climate, when every crumb counts, their job is that much more important. When SAP posted revenues of $1.6 billion and earnings of $180 million in their most recent quarter, co-CEO Hasso Plattner pounded his chest proudly over the tickled results. After all, profits were up 78% from the year before, making SAP one of the very few tech companies to beat analysts' expectations. And it was the sales reps affection Sudha--who ignored the dire predictions and the naysayers and ventured out to slay huge deals--who made Plattner's boasting possible. When Sudha closes with a customer, it's one small act of faith that this company has a future.
Before Sudha can proximate a deal, she has to fetch in the door--no small thing, especially now. The worst Part about being a salesperson is emotion affection a tall tubby nobody. You get calls, you dispatch e-mails, but no one answers. Sudha is in this Nobody Zone with one of her prospects birthright now. She received a tip that this outfit--we'll call it Company X--might subsist chucking its extinct mainframe computer, and the disjointed software systems it has pieced together over time, in favor of a lone system to rush its human resources, accounting, and manufacturing departments. This kind of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is SAP's core product, and, if Company X became a customer, it would stand for tall bucks. But first Sudha has to fetch in and talk to someone. She has called and e-mailed several people in saturate of buying technology for Company X, but nobody seems to want to talk to her. If she could just fetch a meeting, she thinks, she would surely fetch the ball rolling.
Sometimes Sudha is trapped for weeks in the Nobody Zone. She was stuck there terminal year with AMD, the semiconductor maker, which eventually became one of her biggest customers. For over a month chief information officer Fred Mapp wouldn't return her phone calls. He was a huge fan of Oracle, a key SAP competitor, and wasn't inclined to switch allegiances. Still, Sudha persisted. In fact, she called Mapp with such regularity that one of his direct reports, whom she was also bombarding with phone calls, insisted that she "stop calling Fred."
Sudha acquiesced, but she didn't give up. She just shifted course, contacting an SAP sales rep in Germany who had sold software to a German business unit of AMD. She persuaded the rep to inquire his AMD contact to meet with her during an upcoming trip to the U.S. That helped her fetch a subsequent meeting with one of Fred's IT managers, which led to a meeting with Fred, which led, eventually, to her winning the account. When Fred was finally introduced to Sudha, he liked the passage she listened, the passage she seemed to understand what he needed from the current software. And he liked her enthusiasm. "A ball of energy" is what he calls her. "Sudha didn't oversell, and she didn't start talking at me," says Fred. "She made notes when they talked, and when she said she'd call and follow up on things, she did." He ended up turning Oracle away and spending what one analyst estimates was more than $20 million with SAP. "I would enact anything for Sudha," he says now.
Like many of Sudha's customers, Fred establish her intriguing. A small brunette with a wide, engaging smile, Sudha is a rarity--a charming puerile woman in the largely mannish world of hard-core nerds. She's also snug being the exception, the exotic standout. Her father was a doctor in Nepal, and Sudha, the oldest of five children, grew up in a bucolic village without electricity. As a teenager, she attended a Catholic boarding school rush by German nuns in Katmandu. It was there that Sudha learned English and got the sort of wide-ranging education most Nepalese kids could barely imagine. But her parents didn't actually await her to attach her education to practical use. They assumed she would consent to an arranged marriage, affection every other nice, 17-year-old Nepalese girl, and tarry home to raise a family. That wasn't Sudha's plan. Outspoken and strong-willed, she announced to her horrified parents that she had applied to colleges in the U.S. "I wanted to depart to a bigger pond, to explore more and view more, and chart out my own life. I didn't want to enact what was expected of me," says Sudha, whose complete terminal denomination is Shah-tsou. She got a complete scholarship to attend Mills College, a small, all-women's school in Oakland, Calif., and majored in business economics and communications.
People had always told Sudha that she would subsist distinguished in sales, and after graduating in 1991 she landed a sales job at Nady Systems, a company that makes wireless headphones. It wasn't long before she realized sales was the job she was born to do. "I fancy talking to and getting to know people," she says. Four years and several companies later, she was at Oracle, selling database software just as everyone was starting to fetch a tall case of tech fever. Customers, Sudha remembers, were flush with cash and alive to to disburse it. No one wanted to subsist left out of the tech revolution. "There were times when customers were calling us," says Sudha. complete that was soundless suitable in 1998, when she left the ultra-aggressive Oracle sales team for SAP.
Those days of the smooth sell are gone, but that hasn't changed the passage Sudha attacks her job. She seems to fancy the challenge of accounts that are tough to crack--hard-shelled nuts that will eventually give way, once she finds the feeble spot and applies the birthright pressure. During four visits over the course of a month, I never once heard her fret that she might not win a deal. Other SAP salespeople I met griped about how tough it was to sell software in a "demolished economy," but not Sudha. Reluctant CIOs and disappearing tech budgets are simply an break to "be more creative" in structuring deals. If you buy now, she pleads with customers, you'll Have a fully loaded software system whizzing and ready to depart when the economy picks up. You'll subsist passage ahead of the pack. And why not cop edge of this tedious age to endure the eight or ten months (and inevitable disruptions) it takes to install current software? Sudha's glass is never half-full; it's always overflowing. She once had a boss who challenged her reps to a contest: She wanted to view who could fetch the most hang-up calls in one month. Sudha won. Her prize was a rubber chicken, which now hangs on the wall of her cubicle, next to a whiteboard on which someone has scrawled in tall letters: SUDHA WILL proximate LOTS OF tall DEALS IN THE AMERICAS THIS YEAR.
If you terminal thought about the world of sales when you read Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman or saw David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, you might not recognize the current vocabulary of the profession, which involves fancy talk of win-win partnerships, valued-added strategies, and ROI. In the second half of the 1990s the friendly good-time Charlie salesman was recast as a "partner." This current salesperson not only sold something you needed but also stuck around to get positive the thing you bought worked, to attend with short-term problems, and to anticipate future strategic needs. In the current sales vernacular, there are no products, only "solutions."
This recasting of the sales relationship was born of a pass of confidence. In the early 1990s two things happened: Customers became convinced that if they didn't buy complete sorts of current software, they'd Fall hopelessly behind their competitors; and software became more and more complicated, so much so that customers who tried installing knotty applications often wound up frustrated, if not downright angry. To get the most of the first trend, software companies had to carefully manage the second. So they developed the "solutions" approach, seeking to inspire dependence and assure customers that they wouldn't subsist stranded after the sale.
When it works, the solutions approach is a glorious thing for sellers, because it helps turn one-time buyers into reiterate customers. That is crucial for SAP. Since wooing current customers is now particularly hard, SAP must convince its tremendous installed foundation of ERP customers--some 375 Fortune 500 companies--to buy current customer-relationship-management, supply-chain, and e-procurement software, complete of which attend connect companies to their customers and suppliers via the Internet.
For salespeople affection Sudha, making the solutions approach toil for both current and extinct customers translates into nonstop relationship building. Luckily for SAP, that seems to Come almost naturally to Sudha. To fetch AMD's business, she spent weeks talking to people from different departments, trying to understand what they wanted from the current system. She talked to Fred Mapp three or four times a week, and attach together particular reports showing exactly how much money AMD could redeem by installing SAP--reports Fred could utilize to get his case to the CEO and AMD's board. When she met with EFI, she convinced CIO Steve Zoppi and IT director Calvin enact that she didn't just want to sell them software; she wanted to attend EFI become the sort of fast-moving, efficiently rush e-business that would subsist the begrudge of its competitors. EFI could enact that, she told them, by running SAP's current collection of mySAP.com software--which would link EFI's internal departments with data about customers and suppliers--on top of the ERP system they had initially planned on. Sudha let Steve and Calvin know she would round over backwards for them. And she did. During a Hawaii junket honoring her and other SAP sales stars, Sudha skipped the golf to talk by phone with EFI techies, answering their questions about SAP's software. The result: EFI bought the gross enchilada, both the knotty ERP application and the newer Internet software.
In theory, the conception of the salesman as partner is a shipshape one. But, of course, when money is short, the veneer can Come unglued. While a customer soundless might Have his hands complete installing the intricate software he recently bought, the sales rep wants to bespeak revenue--and fetch a commission--by selling current stuff. So she may well find herself pitching current products to a "partner" who is interested in anything but current software--a situation that exposes even the best partners for what they really are: buyer and seller.
In June, for example, Sudha comes back to Fred, her staunch ally at AMD, to sell him a current product called SAP Portals, which blends an existing SAP product with software acquired from a startup company. SAP is betting so heavily on SAP Portals that it has spun off a company with just that denomination to sell it. In early June, Sudha gets on Fred's calendar and flies down to AMD's executive offices in Austin, Texas, with Jason Wolf, a colleague from SAP Portals, and Murali Kasiviswanath, the SAP engineer who will enact the product demo. If they land the deal, Sudha and Jason will both fetch complete commission.
The meeting takes location inside a windowless conference elbowroom at AMD. A few minutes into Jason's PowerPoint presentation, Fred announces he's "glazing over." He doesn't understand why he's being pitched on this current product--it sounds an abominable lot affection the Workplace software he bought from SAP terminal year. "I'm sitting in my car and I've got a motor that's ready to depart and you're saw that the motor's no distinguished and I requisite a current one?" he asks incredulously. Jason tries to warrant how the current product is different from the one he already has, but Fred's not convinced. "I've heard you remark we'll fancy this, but I'm the customer. You've got to understand my business problem," he says. Sudha, who's positioned herself next to Fred and across the table from Jason, Murali, and Walter Smith, another member of AMD's technical staff, intervenes, trying to persuade Fred to give Jason another five minutes to finish his presentation. Fred relents, but he's clearly impatient and longingly eyes the door.
Afterward, as we're scooping up items from the salad bar in AMD's cafeteria, Sudha admits that the meeting didn't depart as well as planned. "It wasn't one of my best," she acknowledges, tossing some broccoli onto her plate. Perhaps she could Have prepared more with Jason and Murali or briefed Fred better. But somehow, despite the obvious setback--Fred had clearly proclaimed he didn't requisite the current software--Sudha is undaunted. She insists that it is merely the first step in an ongoing effort. "Now I Have lots of action items to follow up on," she smiles.
Clinching the deal
A week after the disappointing Austin meeting, Sudha gets some distinguished news. Electroglas, a semiconductor-equipment company she's been pitching for five months, decides to buy from SAP over Oracle and J.D. Edwards. Sudha was expecting that decision, but she wasn't positive whether Electroglas' board was going to sign off on spending the money this year, given the slump in semiconductor sales. Sudha wanted the deal now, and so she had made the present as appealing as possible. While she won't discuss the specifics, Steve Hmelar, Electroglas' director of information, figures that he got a 30% discount on the expense Electroglas would Have had to pay 18 months ago.
Sudha's even made some headway with Company X. By digging around, she establish out that a colleague at SAP Portals knew an IT executive at Company X from a previous job. That got her the meeting she was angling for, and she's now in the running with Oracle and PeopleSoft. But Company X isn't in the market for a tall ERP system, as Sudha had thought. Pleading poverty, Company X says it wants to buy only human-resources software, just one piece of an ERP system. It's a small-potatoes deal, but Sudha sees it as her passage in, a crack that she'll pry open later. She thinks she can ultimately convince Company X to buy the gross integrated suite of SAP products. Already she's thinking about how she's going to toil the deal. When she met up with co-CEO Plattner in mid-June, she enlisted his support, warning him, "I've got a tall deal coming up that I'm going to requisite your attend on."
My final few meetings with Sudha cop location while she's working deals at SAP's Sapphire conference, an annual orgy of SAP employees, customers, and well-wishers held this year in Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, a monstrous edifice spanning half a mile. It's SAP's custom to tow out complete the stops for Sapphire, and despite the withering economy, this year is no exception. complete 9,000 people who attend fetch a Palm VII in their welcome packet and are later entertained by comedian Dennis Miller and the well-preserved rock band Aerosmith, which gives a raucous concert that Wolfgang Kemna, the head of SAP's U.S. business, kicks off with the shout, "Aerosmiff iz in ze houz."
Sudha missed the Aerosmith concert. She had to coast back to the Valley a day early to deliver a 40-page document to Company X. But before she left, she was once again working the LAM deal. Despite the earlier determination by LAM's executives to hold off on an SAP purchase because of budget cuts, Sudha has kept in touch. In the past few weeks she and LAM's senior IT director Roberts Have been discussing Roberts' latest proposal: Let LAM try the product before buying it. That might subsist distinguished for LAM, but it wouldn't let Sudha bespeak any revenue. For weeks she and Roberts Have been going back and forth about how to structure a deal. Sudha hopes to nail down an agreement at Sapphire, and on the first day of the conference she schedules a meeting with her boss, Roger Quinlin; Don and his boss, Bob Rudy; a consultant who has been working with LAM; and a technical specialist from SAP. The group spends an afternoon in a makeshift conference room, sipping sinful conference coffee and talking about the definition of "free."
A few weeks later I check in one more time with Sudha, who reports that the meeting went well. She was able to fetch Bob to commit to buying licenses for at least 500 LAM employees before the tarry of the year, and she agreed to enact an initial pilot for 50 people at a nominal charge. It was a distinguished jiffy for Sudha. LAM felt as if it was getting a deal because SAP doesn't normally enact "try before you buy" licensing, and Sudha will fetch a commission, although it won't subsist nearly as tall as she'd hoped. The paperwork's not yet signed, but Sudha, of course, is confident that the details will fetch worked out. For a jiffy she's elated, flush with the thrill of a victory, no matter how small. Then she takes a abysmal breath, whips out her cell phone, and gets ready to tackle the next sale.