Today’s Office 365 post was written by Colin Day, global head of marketing operations at SunGard.

Colin Day - PicWhen it’s done right, selling is really a team sport, with marketing as a close partner. You can’t effectively do one without the other, and it takes tight-knit collaboration to do better, smarter business. At SunGard, we’ve changed our whole approach to selling, streamlining our processes to take our sales efficiency from average to outstanding, while increasing our sales force headcount by 20 percent in 2014 alone and improving our levels of service and support for customers.

SunGard works closely with financial services customers in nearly every segment, offering one of the broadest and deepest ranges of solutions and services in the industry—from analyzing and automating critical business processes associated with trading and investment portfolio management to customizing software and running QA testing to ensure compliance and accuracy. To deliver the precise solutions and services they need, we have to make sure that our sales and marketing teams stay current and have the right mindsets, skill sets, and tool sets. First, we need knowledgeable professionals on board, and we need to know how to motivate them to do their jobs well. Second, we need to ensure that they have the right disciplines to effect change. And supporting it all, we need to give those employees best-in-class sales enablement and marketing tools, the ability to stay productive from anywhere, and the technology to foster a powerful sense of teamwork.

We’ve recently launched pilot programs to explore the best way to handle that third piece of the puzzle. We gave a cross-section of our sales and marketing employees Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices equipped with Microsoft Office 365 cloud services, and we’re seeing terrific results. They’re using that combination of hardware and software to get more accomplished together, regardless of their locations. For most of these employees, being away from the office used to mean a certain amount of downtime. Maybe they were on a plane to travel to a prospect’s site or sitting in a café between meetings. They could get some work done, but inevitably their laptops didn’t have the files they needed or were just too large and cumbersome to allow them to work comfortably, so they waited. Now, with Office 365, employees access presentations that they started back in the office on their Surface Pro 3s, collaborate with colleagues in real time on those presentations, and use iPhones to quickly review them prior to a meeting—it’s a seamless process. Without waiting to get back to the office, sales reps prepare all the information that their prospects and customers might need during an upcoming meeting, synchronize on who asks which questions to frame the conversation, move a stalled deal forward, and send information to colleagues immediately following customer interactions. It’s easy now to get instant answers and offer instant support, which is what teamwork is all about.

And, most important, they do all of that securely. Because we work with so many financial services companies, we are extremely risk-averse and are always concerned about data leakage. We can’t expose ourselves to any breaches—our reputation and the reputations of our customers are paramount. So we have to approach everything we do with a security-first mindset, but we don’t want that to impede our employees’ natural ways of working. With the security controls in Office 365, we are confident that we’re boosting productivity without compromising data privacy or security. We’re able to manage the full security life cycle in-house because of the tight integration among Office 365 components and their interoperability with our Active Directory controls.

Our pilot users take advantage of Office 365 to conduct video meetings with colleagues around the world using Skype for Business Online, forging more human connections and providing a better sense of collaboration than email alone. You can tell so much when you can see hand gestures and facial expressions. We’re also working with Microsoft on a proof-of-concept project to connect Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 with our system to give sales reps in the field better insights through customer data and analysis.

Our target market consists of more than 500,000 different companies all over the world. We want our salespeople to be close to those prospects, but we can’t always have a SunGard office nearby. That’s why mobility is key to our sales force in particular, and Office 365 supports our mobile reps’ efforts by being always on, always there. The more we equip our sales reps with relevant, up-to-date information, the better they’ll be at answering customer needs and communicating a specific offering’s benefits to prospective customers, which increases our overall value and reach.

We continue to invest in our sales transformation initiative. And it’s working! For the last three consecutive years, SunGard has been named the best company to sell for by Selling Power magazine, and we’re finding that it’s easier to attract and retain the best people when we give them the training and support that they need. As we move forward, Office 365 will be a critical part of that support.

—Colin Day

SunGard provides mission-critical software and IT services to the financial services industry. In August, SunGard announced its agreement to be purchased by FIS, with an expected close in the fourth quarter of 2015.