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NetApp – Aligning skills to the changing role of Professional Services

About the Client
NetApp is the world’s largest provider of integrated storage solutions.  In addition to consistently achieving profitable growth, it is continually ranked in the top 10 best places to work*.

Impact of Changes to the IT Landscape
World events over the last 5 years shifted the way that businesses buy storage that, in turn, impacted the customer’s expectations of their IT partner.

Some of these events include:

  •  The Global Financial Crisis forcing businesses to look closer at return on investment to the business of IT projects
  • ŸIT project decision-making has moved
    ‘up the corporate food chain’ with CFO’s and CIO’s increasingly becoming involved
  • ŸShifts towards cloud-based and managed services models have increased the involvement of business decision-makers mainly because of the business benefits it offers

The Changing Role of Professional Services
Professional Services / Post Sales consultants are, in most cases, closer to the customer than any other part of a vendor’s business. With the right skills and approach they represent an opportunity to become true, trusted advisors to their customers.

They also are best placed to recognise opportunities that will benefit the customer as well as the vendor.

The Brief
In 2009, NetApp invited Total Inter Action to develop a global program that would create shifts in thinking and behaviour resulting in:

  • Ÿ  A deeper understanding of the customer’s business
  • Ÿ  More opportunities being recognised in customer accounts
  • Ÿ  Richer customer communications
  • Ÿ  Improved effectiveness when engaging at all levels in a customer organisation

The Challenge
75% of the Professional Services team had strong technical skills as well as strong detail and analytically-oriented thinking.  No surprises there!  However, the skills they needed to develop (such as opportunity recognition, understanding a customer’s ‘bigger picture’ strategy, and developing an understanding of individual needs) fell into areas of least thinking preference.

So, to create the desired behaviour shifts required a shift in thinking.

The Solution – Elite Consulting
Total Inter Action partnered with some of the world’s most successful technical services people to create Elite Consulting (still running since 2009).

A highly experiential training course that shifts the mindset of Professional Services and enables them to apply what they learn to real customers.

What Participant’s Experience
Prior to the face to face training course, participants’ thinking preferences are profiled
on–line (using HBDI®). They are asked to bring to the training examples of real customers they feel represent additional revenue opportunities for their company and profiles of individuals who represent senior people in the customer account they may engage with.

During the course participants learn:

  • ŸThe dangers and impact of not understanding a customer’s
    business needs
  • How thinking preferences impact on the way one engages with customers, problem solves and recognises customer needs
  • ŸA questioning model (SOCIT) that uncovers and explores customers’ business, as well as technical, needs
  • ŸHow to respond to customers’ needs persuasively
  • How to use the Elite Consulting tools, such as Total Inter Action’s Communication Planner and Discussion Document template, to continue to achieve the results long after the course
    is over

NetApp reported a 35% increase per annum in new business through Professional Services

ŸAfter 740 people in 19 Cities across 4 Geos were surveyed using multiple assessment points around implementation success and value, Elite Consulting rated 4.64 (out of a possible 5)

ŸThe communication planners and tools are a standard with customers reporting an improvement in the quality of the conversations and solutions they receive

ŸParticipants report a significant increase in business won and opportunities uncovered

See our Testimonial from a NetApp participant.

*FORTUNE Magazine