Sales 2.0 Conference: Interview with Kevin Hooper of HP

Posted by Mike Damphousse

b2b sales leadsKevin Hooper of Hewlett Packard will be speaking next week at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Chicago. Kevin joined the HP team as Vice President of the U.S. Commercial Business Segment in 2007. As a member of the US Technology Solution Group's senior leadership team, Mr. Hooper has driven HP's transformational agenda to achieve the growth goals assigned to the Commercial space, which represents a $150 billion market for HP.

Kevin's insights into Sales 2.0 are unique in that they are from the user perspective.

Mike: You've been in the front lines of sales at IBM for 10 years and now HP and have led sales organizations for years. What shifts do you see recently that you can truly attribute to 2.0 thinking?

Kevin: The biggest shift I've seen is in the use of data and tools. Don't get me wrong, sales leaders have run forecast calls and pipeline calls for years, discussing deals and working on progression. The difference is now we have a lexicon, a way of describing opportunities and where they are in the progression of the sales cycle in a consistent manner. This leads to the ability to aggregate those opportunities and know how many have been qualified, how long that took, how long they sat at the qualification stage before moving forward and what actions we took to move those opportunities forward. A small change in the focus on a group of opportunities at a particular stage can make a big difference.
Mike: Has HP implemented any specific tools or strategies to improve sales effectiveness and tracking, sales enablement and in general, make your field force more productive?

Kevin: We've used a combination of training and operational process and more importantly linked the two. Let me explain. We use a specific knowledge elicitation technique for conducting conversations with customers. It's proved very effective. But more importantly, my mangers use this same technique when inspecting the sales reps pipeline and key opportunities.

We rolled the same technique out to all of our business partners as part of HP's Learning and Development function so we're ALL speaking the same language. It's really about effective communication.
Mike: If you were to be sitting on an airplane next to another VP of Sales and having a conversation, what few tips would you share with him that might lead to their exceeding their numbers in the short term?

Kevin: Focus on your pipeline and set some tough expectations about your forecast. When my team forecasts an opportunity to me, I trust them. It is then my job to open up new opportunities and remove obstacles. Its really about the "At Bats".

Mike: Agreed. A good sales person needs face-to-face time with a prospect. A C/VP level appointment kick starts the process. Where do you see demand gen programs shifting to better serve your team?

Kevin: One of the major changes I'm seeing is demand gen people taking responsibility of a revenue number. In HP our marketing team feels responsible for delivering revenue, not just sales ready leads. A lead has to be progressed and closed. If the person generating it is paid on its closure, the quality increases dramatically and that's what we're seeing.
Mike: You're speaking at the upcoming Sales 2.0 conference in Chicago, what sort of message will you be delivering?

Kevin: A short one hopefully...seriously, I'll be sharing a couple of best practices, and taking some questions. What I do isn't rocket science, but it is about execution, follow through, commitment, and accountability.

Mike: Many of us have been saying this for a while. Sales 2.0 is really just using communications, information, and technology to enhance long term sales best practices. Sounds like it will be a great session. The last question will sound odd, but every interview on my blog finishes with the B2B Marketing Thought leaders Curry Poll. Do you prefer Red, Green or Yellow curry?

Kevin: I'm English, so frankly, I don't care what color it is as long as it is very, very hot!