Digital Finance Sales Support: Reaching The Furthest Corners Of Middle East And North Africa

Vaag Durgaryan

Part 1 in the “Digital Finance Sales Support” series

It might sound like a lofty, even unachievable goal: to help an entire region transform into a leading digital economy in the world. But that’s what my team set out to do, with an initiative that aims to help our customers interact with SAP in a better and simpler way through hyperconnectivity. In this series, I’ll explain more about our “Digital Finance Sales Support” framework, how we approached it, and what we achieved.

A massive digital disruption

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is leading a massive digital disruption. In many countries in the region, smartphone-adoption rates and social media use are even higher than in the United States. PwC predicts that over the next four years, digitalization in the region will bring US$16.9 billion in annual revenue gains and $17.3 billion in annual cost and efficiency gains. There is a great momentum of innovation in the MENA region, and flagship events like GITEX and Expo 2020 help maintain and elevate this momentum.

The Finance Deal Support department of SAP in MENA, which I lead, together with an amazing team based in several countries, serves as the finance sales support center of expertise, knowledge, and outlook for cloud, on-premises, and services. We serve our internal customers, the sales team, helping them understand how to deliver complex information about financial software. In addition, we review and process all types of deals, own the contractual aspects of all deals, and deliver deal-support insights to the leadership teams.

A journey of transformation

To support the region’s digital transformation and SAP’s co-innovation activities with its customers, our department embarked on an exciting journey of transformation through innovation and digitalization. We conducted a strategy workshop using the design thinking approach and built a framework called “Digital Finance Sales Support” to maximize the value we generate for our internal and external customers. As part of the process, our productivity skyrocketed, and we (most importantly) had fun.

Key pillars of Digital Finance Sales Support

One of the successful pillars of our Digital Finance Sales Support framework was to reach all the account executives and directors in our 12 SAP offices throughout MENA. To best achieve this, we did three main things:

1. Brand-new simple content and workshops

We already had lots of materials available in different formats, but the material was not as internally customer focused as it could be. We invested time and developed materials to take the account executives and directors through the deal-support process, step-by-step, from their point of view. It seems obvious, but this made a big difference. Also, we created a simple case study of a typical customer, with a multiple-choice questionnaire after each section to help the sales folk apply learning to that case study.

Using this material, we conducted physical and virtual workshops with account executives and directors in almost all locations to walk through the material. These interactive and live sessions proved to be extremely successful. This was an opportunity for our team members to step up and act as trainers for sales teams, and it gave everyone an opportunity to get outside our comfort zones and grow.

2. Digital hub

Using SAP Jam, our so-called “business Facebook,” we built a digital hub to serve as a one-stop shop for internal customers on any deal support and related topics. The hub is structured with the new content described above and divided by lines of business (cloud, on-premises, services, etc.). Very soon a majority of our internal customers were enrolled on our hub and receiving periodic notifications. We continually update the hub and add cool, new features, like a wall of selfies taken by our team members during workshops.

3. Digital and paper posters

To take it to the next level and make it more creative, we now create a new poster every two months about the most critical deal-support topics. These posters are innovative and uniquely designed: for example, one includes pictures of the best-known buildings in the Middle East, another has Ramadan-related pictures, and so on. Because less is more, we put only the most critical content on the posters in a crisp and concise way. All posters were QR-linked to our digital hub, so it’s only one smartphone-click from anyone who sees the posters. We communicated the availability of the posters by email and placed them on walls of almost all of our offices in MENA.

Equipped with the latest deal-support finance briefing, our sales teams feel more educated and empowered. Now they can spend more time co-innovating with customers. This will ultimately help the region transform into a leading digital economy in the world.

In the next posts, I will cover the key pillars of Digital Finance Sales Support: how we simplified interaction with our customers and digitized sales support processes, how we use our own innovations, and much more.

Stay tuned.

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Vaag Durgaryan

About Vaag Durgaryan

Vaag Durgaryan is the commercial finance director for SAP in the Middle East and North Africa, which comprises of over 20 countries. Starting in 2017, he oversees a multinational team that provides finance expertise, knowledge, and strategy outlook for finance sales support in the region. Prior to that, Vaag was chief of staff for the CFO for SAP Global Field Finance and co-drove global transformation initiatives with focus on process simplification and people enablement. He holds an Executive MBA degree from ESSEC Business School and Mannheim Business School. Vaag has a passion in digitalization and learning culture.