In this piece, Frédéric Batut, Southern Europe Area Sales Vice President, talks about his first year at Polycom, the milestones and the challenges
So, Polycom, one year later… was it everything you anticipated?
I have worked with Polycom for over fifteen years in various different positions so the whole transition was smooth. The role of Area Sales Vice President demands higher responsibility but the good thing is that I could utilise quite a few elements of my existing business knowledge in my new role.
Some tasks were bigger as well and consumed a lot more time than expected. ‘Change’ is never easy – you need to firstly put a plan in place before you could even start thinking about implementing your plan. Channel strategy and developing competitive accounts were my main priorities as the regional business leader.
Have you made many changes since you joined?
I had a good understanding of how Polycom was operating in Southern Europe and one of the main things I did in this new role was re-aligning the local business strategy.
In France, the team was given opportunity to develop their roles further. The newly redesigned team now looks after not only the key accounts but also competitive accounts. This way everyone will get the opportunity to shine. In terms of channel, I implemented a new tool which provides a clear segmented view of the new business opportunities. The tool allows the team to view the customer and partner requirements not only from the vertical market perspective but also from the Polycom solutions offering perspective. This has helped improve our results many folds over the past year.
In Italy, we developed strong relationships with a number of key customers and I am pleased to say that we have also doubled the number of competitive accounts over the course of last year. Voice and AV is a big part of the Polycom business here and our aim is to penetrate deeper into the video market so we can help more customers. We looking at the partner network very closely to continue identifying new ways of working together with different and new partners, and to deliver top-notch service to our customers.
Our voice solutions are becoming popular in Spain, and we are seeing a continuous rise in demand in the region. Due to the market structure we have been assisting the SMBs more, and my team’s renewed focus is now on expanding the remit to all market segments, including the enterprises. In Portugal, Microsoft Skype for Business is being used far and wide, and this means that we our solutions are a perfect fit for this market too. We are working on expanding our partner network across the whole of Iberia.
Do you have any highlights from the previous year that you want to reference?
Polycom celebrated its 25th anniversary in the previous year and marked it by launching the newest generation of ground-breaking new solutions. The market was receptive and it demonstrates that we are a developing company who is amongst the front runners when it comes to understanding market trends and doing thought leadership. The new voice, content and video collaboration solutions, including the existing products and Services portfolio, meant that we needed more helping hands. In addition to re-focusing our business approach, across France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, we made several new hires to renew the team spirit and we took measures to improve the overall talent retention rates. Faouzi Bounakhala was promoted to be Channel Director – Southern Europe, Fabio Sambrotta and Marco Iorio were appointed as Major Account Managers in Italy and Rome, and Simona Maccari joined us as Channel Business Manager in Italy. In addition, we also welcomed Juan Carlos Garcia as the Channel Manager for Iberia and Hugo Delmas as the Inside Sales Manager for France and Iberia. So, we now have a full team in place. We are already seeing the success translate into revenue in our region and we have started working on a couple of multimillion dollar accounts across insurance and global banking industries.
What has been the biggest challenge? Has anything in particular surprised you?
Rebooting the sales spirit was the biggest challenge and my job isn’t finished yet. There are always improvements to make and morale to boost when it comes to running a successful regional business. I am encouraging my team to meet the customers even if in the first glance it doesn’t look like there is a need for our solutions. Why? Because we have started thinking about the adjoining solutions that are currently already in use. For example, if a customer already has a Microsoft Skype for Business environment in place it doesn’t mean that is all they can have. There are ways of improving their workplace collaboration experience and that can only be identified if you get up close and personal with the customer in need. Also, at times, the names of smaller subsidiaries of major companies get lost in translation. We previously didn’t use this approach however moving forward we are going to work separately but closely with main firm as well as their subsidiaries to drive business growth.
What is on your hit list for the region in 2016?
Drive a consistent revenue growth and utilise the new tactics, such as the newly introduced channel tool, to its full potential. Sales momentum is key to success and we have a more strategic outlook towards the competitive or greenfield accounts now. We are on the road to success and it’s important we expand our partner portfolio taking the regional business users’ needs into consideration. We can help customers resolve their business challenges swiftly, using the best-in-breed workplace collaboration solutions. Businesses are working towards their own workplace of the future and we have become their trusted partner as we have firsthand knowledge and experience of helping businesses benefit from streamlining their collaboration and meeting experiences. We are keen to share this experience and knowledge with our customers and partners in the Southern Europe and beyond.
What’s your favourite thing about the company culture at Polycom?
The company DNA. The video culture, the team spirit and portfolio of products we have developed are valuable to Polycom. I can meet anyone, anywhere and this helps to maintain that team morale and spirit no matter where my team is based on each working day, resulting in each meeting being personable and productive. I am not expected to be in Italy one day and somewhere in Iberia two hours later as I can complete most of my work virtually, thanks to Polycom. We are a company that is focused on being the workplace of the future and I am pleased to be a part of this journey.