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Sales, service spell success

Tech Data is adding staff to sharpen customer service.

By MADHUSMITA BORA
Published May 2, 2007


Things are revving up at Tech Data Corp.'s U.S. sales division. New CEO Bob Dutkowsky has shaken up the company's massive sales force, hiring a new U.S. sales chief, announcing a new sales strategy and adding more efficient technology for the work force. In a recent interview, senior vice president Murray Wright, 51, who started in December, talks about his job heading U.S. sales, his team and its new direction.

What is the new business model for the sales division? Who is your target customer?

Wright: Our new sales structure targets the VARs value-added resellers such as Data America in Oldsmar. The objective is to create a higher customer interaction, so there is a good relationship at all levels between the employees and the VARs. Under the new structure, teams of two or three sales employees work with a defined customer list -10 to 15 customers per sales representative - which is smaller than what they had before.

In the past, 150 to 175 customers were handled by four or five representatives. So, if the customers called back they may or may not deal with the same person.

How many jobs are you adding?

We are increasing our sales staff by 10 percent. We are recruiting for 40 positions in Clearwater, and the rest throughout the country at various levels.

How is your team reacting to the changes?

We rolled out the initiative in February. We are working through change management. The feedback has been very positive. The structure was piloted and implemented in France and Canada. It's a good time for us to try and create a higher level of customer service. It helps create a differentiation between us and our competitors.

How does the new plan affect employee compensation?

The compensation is based on target goals. The new plan is similar to the old one in terms of its fundamentals. Each employee and territory has goals to achieve aligned with the overall corporate goal. The more they sell vs. the goal, the more money they make.

Can you tell us about the new technology that you are introducing to your team?

Basically One Desk (the new application) allows all of the sales systems to integrate into one application. Sales organizations can use the system to get all the information to implement a transaction. They get to know the revenue margin of the company, if the products are available, what the pricing is.

The targeted launch is for July. This should simplify all different elements of managing our internal systems.

Why the changes and why now?

There's no question that the margins are very tight in our industry. Everything moves at such a fast pace that we must innovate and differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. We need to have a closer relationship with our customers and our products. The spirit and culture of Tech Data under Bob's (Dutkowsky's) leadership is evolving by focusing on the right business strategies to help continue to grow and position ourselves for an exciting future.

Madhusmita Bora can be reached at (813) 225-3112 or mbora@sptimes.com.

Murray Wright

Job: Senior vice president, Tech Data Corp.'s U.S. sales

Experience:

- 2005-2006: President of Lenovo, Canada.

- 1995 to 2005: President and general manager, Ingram Micro, Canada. The company, Tech Data's rival, is the world's largest IT distributor.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Clarkson University, New York.

Hobbies: Playing golf and hockey, boating, and martial arts.

Family: Wife Jacqueline; daughters Michele and Allison.