How Marketing is Transforming the Digital Buying Experience

Sunny Sanyal
VP of Marketing at Hyster-Yale
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In today’s episode we’ll cover:

  • Transforming the future in the manufacturing sector
  • COVID-19 has accelerated the shift toward digitizing the buying process
  • The type of work a VP of Marketing at a manufacturing company implements
  • The importance of customer experience and the buyer’s journey
  • The guts of digital transformation
  • The future of AI and Robotics in manufacturing
  • The importance of prioritization (especially when you have 118 projects!)


Sunny Sanyal (00:00):

Let's prioritize anything that has a direct and indirect impact on customer satisfaction through digital sales and buyer enablement. So we put the customer first and see what directly helps that, that's what we focus on.

Joe Toste (00:14):

Welcome to TechTables, conversations with top technology leaders, taking a closer look at the world of IT and digital through the lens of agility and innovation. I'm your host, Joe Toste.

I'm super excited today as we shift our focus to the intersection of global marketing and digital transformation at Hyster-Yale. Huge thank you to Sunny for taking time to come on the show and meet with me today.

And today's episode we'll cover transforming the future in the manufacturing sector. COVID-19 has accelerate the shift towards digitizing the buying process. The type of work of VP of Marketing at a manufacturing company implements the importance of customer experience in the buyer's journey, the guts of digital transformation, the future of AI and robotics in manufacturing, and the importance of prioritization especially when you have 118 projects like Sunny. But that's quite enough for me, without further ado I'm thrilled to welcome Sunny, VP of Marketing at Hyster-Yale.

Welcome to TechTables Sunny. Super excited for you to come on the show today.

Sunny Sanyal  (01:03):

Thank you very much. I'm glad to be here.

Joe Toste (01:04):

Awesome. Let's kick off today with a little bit about the many hats you've worn across Hyster-Yale from global marketing to digital transformation and what Hyster-Yale's tagline is transforming the future.

Sunny Sanyal (01:16):

The company which is probably the largest, some of the largest and most young handling equipment manufacturers. It's all about focusing on innovation and try to help our customers get the most out of material handling as a business because it's all about improving productivity and improving efficiency because that's what keeps the world moving. And that's literally something that we've seen right through the pandemic. We call it, keeping the wall moving, but that's effectively what it is. So as Hyster-Yale, that's something that we focus on very heavily whether it's investment in R&D, getting the right products, have out the right caliber, and the capability to help our customers be successful in doing what they do.

Joe Toste (01:52):

That's great. Can you just talk a little bit more about the type of customers that you're helping right now?

Sunny Sanyal(01:57):

Sure. We essentially manufacture the finished line of LED-Trucks. You can think of as well, as long as along with material handling solutions that go with it. We cater to pretty much every industry space you can think of. We make the full line of that boot from the smallest part of the trucks that you would see to the cleaner warehouse space right up to the very large container handlers. One would typically see that in a container of thoughts. So as you can imagine, we sell to customers right through from the small mom-and-pop shops and of course, street right up to some of the largest giants that you have in food and beverage, and metals, and lumber, chemicals right through to automotive. So it's a pretty diversed customer base at UK. That's it.

Joe Toste (02:41):

That's great and that leads really well into the next question. An important piece along any customer's digital transformation journey is experience. With Hyster-Yale there's three main experiences that you track customer experience, dealer experience, and employee experience. Can you unpack all three experiences through the lens of your current strategy at Hyster-Yale?

Sunny Sanyal (02:59):

Absolutely. And that's a great point. We really embarked on our digital transformation journey. We very quickly realized that digital practice lecture is effectively a transformation of experiences about your customer experience, dealer experience, as well as the employee experience. So if you start with the fundamental experience with just customer experience, it's no surprise that today that most of the digital journey or most of the customer journey has traversed digitally. If you think about the Amazon effect where everything worked backwards from that customer we realized that most of our customers over they'd like to meet with a sales person at some point in that journey. They're always doing their research and looking for their own information prior to engaging with that sales person. So we recognized that having to transform customer experience was to really appreciate that journey right across the board and see how we can meet that customer in a digital first world at a platform that's easily accessible.

So that's the customer experience piece. And then given that we go primarily to market through an independent dealer network. It's also about working with our dealers, dealer partners around the world and helping them be successful with customers. And it's not just that, it's also about the partnership would be gone and nurture with our dealers there's enacting as one in providing a unified customer experience is what brings that to life. And of course, with regards to employee experience, if you think about digital transformation we cannot think of digital transformation with four pillars. You've got the technology piece, you've got the content piece and you've got the systems and the processes but the fourth piece is really about the culture.

And it's the people that makes the digital transformation and the unified customer experience comes to life. 

And that's where the employee experience comes into.

Joe Toste (04:47):

That's really great. I'm actually glad you mentioned that fourth piece because people really bring it all together. You can't really have any experience without having really good people which is just fundamental of any digital or organizational transformation. Where executives really end up hitting their head and failing is they forget about the people and they just focus on the technology. So let's talk about COVID-19 and how it's accelerated the shift towards digitizing the buying process and how you see Hyster-Yale's global marketing team supporting sales. I know you touched a little bit on it right now on the last question but can you just expand upon that?

Sunny Sanyal (05:20):

Yeah, I will say that actually predates the pandemic and to your point of anything that's really accelerated that need. One of the main reasons we embarked on the digital transformation journey is that we recognized that in today's, in a digital first world again, 

the marketing as a function plays such a big role, much deeper into the buyer's journey. 

So if you go back 15, 20 years in the B2B space, especially in an industrial manufacturing space, marketing was very top of the funnel kind of stuff. So you did the awareness stuff, you did something to generate interest, but a lot of that very quickly handed over to the sales group to drive the rest of the journey. We recognized now that marketing plays a big role in enticing the customer and helping them navigate through the bus journey. In some cases, even with the boom of E-commerce for the customer fulfills the most of the journey themselves. So it's how we can step up to the plate and help our salespeople become more effective. Having provided the right content to the customer at the right time is where marketing comes into something.

So that's why I think with COVID-19 as the pandemic in the world, the new normal is it's actually back. And if you're not getting to meet as many customers in a physical capacity anymore. So it's about what we can do from a marketing standpoint to help that decision-making become a lot easier.

Joe Toste (06:39):

That's great. And what are some, I'm just curious, some tactical stuff that you're doing right now to help your team?

Sunny Sanyal (06:45):

The first thing that I'll say there is events and trade shows even meetings. So there was a time in a normal year, we'd have anything that's been 52 to 55 meetings with our dealers, with our customers, talked about the 17 to 20. A trade shows me to 10. All of that flew out the window. We could just, no one wanted to go to these events anymore. So we had to very quickly pivot to not just meet our customers in a virtual environment but also rally around our dealers in that virtual capacity. So that was one of the first things that we have to very quickly deal with. But then if you look at that example I gave about getting the customer to traverse that digital customer journey. We recognized that we need to do a lot more in being able to serve up content, serve up information and that in an area.

So if you think about virtual selling, more of the virtual meetings or having digital tools that help our salespeople be effective. All of that came into its own when it came to the pandemic and how we dealt with it.

Joe Toste (07:47):

Yes, that's really great. So at Hyster-Yale, you lead the enterprise CRM and CPQ platform. For someone hearing this for the first time, what type of work does this entail for a VP of Marketing like yourself at a manufacturing company?

Sunny Sanyal (08:00):

We use salesforce.com for our CRM capability, but we use Oracle CPQ Cloud for our configure pricing quote. What we've done here is we've integrated the two so that we have a CRM front-end, that's integrated into our CPQ backend that in turn provides an end to end sales courting and ordering capability, not just to our salespeople but to our 500 plus dealers around the world and that sales people. So in terms of your question as to what does a VP of Marketing do all of this? I asked myself the very same question when we first started this exercise, but to be very honest, I think going back about five years when I got that responsibility, it was more about a project leader. The role, it was about how do we get this huge change management effort to roll out to the rest of the organization around the world but then very quickly putting them off, come back hat back on.

I recognize that if you think about that buyer's journey especially the piece stands between consideration and purchase. This is where our CRM and CPQ platform plays a huge role, which in turn meant that our sales quoting and ordering activity then becomes a very integral part of our digital tech stack in this digital transformation initiative. The role that I have now is 

essentially taking that and plugging that into our digital transformation initiative to make sure that it plugs into everything else that we have in the digital ecosystem to enable that unified customer experience in a digital way.

Joe Toste (09:29):

That's great. Okay. So you define the customer experience. I really liked that because it ties right back into the earlier question when we were talking about all of the experiences along with the fourth piece, the culture. You need that unifying experience across the buyer's journey, or it's just, everything's going to flop. You were a lot of different hats of Hyster-Yale's. I'm curious how big your team is globally across marketing digital transformation. And what just it looks like?

Sunny Sanyal (09:56):

Between the sales quoting and ordering tool that we have and the marketing function in terms of direct reports. We have about 60 odd people around the world that's dealing with this. But given the fact that all digital transformation effort is essentially an enterprise effort. It actually encompasses a much, much larger organization which looks at every functional area and that was one of the key things that we have to take into account. When charting the course of our digital transformation initiative is to make sure that we weren't just relying on the 60 odd people that formed the central centers of excellence but also the rest of the organization. There's probably about a thousand odd people in this company that happens in some shape or form being integrated into that initiative to make it truly unified. And that even doesn't take into account the diva network if that plays a part in this exercise.

Joe Toste (10:48):

That's great. And what's something that you're really proud about that your team has achieved recently?

Sunny Sanyal (10:52):

Oh my God, I could go on forever with this Joe.

Joe Toste (10:55):

Brag about him. Brag about him.

Sunny Sanyal (10:57):

I think the biggest thing that comes to mind in terms of what makes me really proud to work with the group that I work with is the 

way that they've been able to pivot so quickly and this complete uncertainty that we've had in the shape of a pandemic. 

Yes, we worked and I've headed down that path but it's the way they've accelerated, not just those efforts but also bringing together the rest of the organization to deliver some of the projects that they have given the constraints that we've had in the short period of time. So if you think about, we went into March this year where we were cancelling shows, left and center. We had a very big event with our dealers and it was an in-person event. And we were going to probably meet chat to 150 to 200 dealer resources in the Americas alone to very quickly pivot that to an online event. And what we eventually ended up doing was reaching out to over a thousand dealer participants in a virtual capacity.

So not only you cannot do something in a whole new light but to do that much much better than we've had in the past, it's been a tremendous change. But in addition to that, it's everything that we're doing to bring to light our digital transformation effort along with everything else that we have on our plates is something that I'm very proud of.

Joe Toste (12:10):

That's great. I was curious, when do you think we'll see in-person events again?

Sunny Sanyal (12:13):

I don't think they'll see anything in 2021. Constantly speaking, we might start seeing something too at the end of 2021 given how the things that the vaccine goes. But I don't think it'll ever go back to the way things used to be but 

you'll still have some in-person events but it'll never be... it'll be a high percentage of virtual interaction for the rest of our lives.

Joe Toste (12:36):

I'm hoping that you're wrong. I'm just a little bit.. I love the in-person events. I'm very social.

Sunny Sanyal (12:41):

I couldn't agree more. It's the reality of things in the last nine months alone, we've learned so much more. It's this muscle memory around all things virtual that we didn't have before. There's always going to be an element of that and I think we're going to leverage a lot more off going forward for the right reasons. And I think in-person events will stay, they’ll come back or that never be to the extent that we have in the past.

Joe Toste (13:03):

Yes, I think I definitely agree with that. I'm curious to see there... I think it was an article in the Wall Street Journal last night, just about how as the pandemic has been going on, just the fatigue that's happening, people are just... I want to go out and see people. And so hopefully at the end of 2021 it would be great to see smaller events and obviously if there's a vaccine it could be a game changer. So digital transformation is really this kind of what I call king buzzword in the tech space. And then COVID slapped everyone upside the head because I thought they had a digital transformation plan. I want to talk about the guts of digital transformation specifically on your strategy and speeding up innovations at a rapid pace. Where are you seeing great examples of this today in the manufacturing space?

Sunny Sanyal (13:45):

I think automation and robotics has really come to the forefront, that's the top of mind stuff in response to that question. What we realized today is, and it's been going on for a little while now that the supply chain growth far outpaces the labor pool we have out there. So you have a huge demand with very little supply. So customers and companies around the world are constantly thinking of how to improve and boost productivity whilst bringing down the operating costs and trying to do more with less. And that's why this whole thing, this 

concept around automation is really coming to the forefront for an organization especially like ours.

Joe Toste (14:23):

That's really great. I really like how you touched upon that. And I shot a podcast episode with Andrey Shtylenko, How AI and Robotics are Transforming Industry 4.0. And if you want an episode and you want to hear some really smart guy talk, that's a great episode. I just asked the questions but he's running Honeywells, AI and Robotics, and it was a fantastic interview. I'm curious, what's the number one problem that yours trying to solve right now as the VP of Marketing at Hyster-Yale?

Sunny Sanyal (14:52):

That could be a very long list. But number one problem would be in my mind prioritization because there are such a huge list of fantastic ideas that we need to explore and deploy where possible. But we know for a fact that we can't do everything at the same time, we can't do everything at once. So it's a question of how do we prioritize, what needs to come first? What can give us the biggest bang for our back given the constraints we have. And sticking that course to make sure that we are able to deliver the results in the near term.

Joe Toste (15:22):

That's great. When you say prioritization, what's your process? I think I'm really fascinated with how companies and leaders prioritize and lead their team to stay focused on what they need to accomplish. How do you prioritize?

Sunny Sanyal (15:37):

To start with that, I think we do a very granular analysis of the scope of projects that we have today. And then the clear definition for prioritization for us is to focus on everything that's digital sales and buyer enablement lead, right now. And that's mainly as a knee-jerk reaction to what we have with the pandemic. It's about business continuity. Our digital transformation roadmap when we created the first pass and resulted in a project list that counted about 118 different projects over a three or four years span. And we looked at what the economy was doing, we looked at what the company used to do in the near term, and we said, let's prioritize on anything that has a direct and then indirect impact on customer satisfaction through digital sales and buyer enablement. So we put the customer first and see what directly helps that, that's what we focus on.

Joe Toste (16:29):

Ooh, that's really good. I really liked what you said right there. Really taking the business case and how it directly or indirectly influences the customer and just really making sure the customer is taken care of. 118 projects over three to four year span. That's a lot of projects.

Sunny Sanyal (16:47):

Definitely. Because when we created that vision of digital transformation that started showing up a lot of gaps in a number of areas. And especially if you think about it as an enterprise led initiative and put them into buckets of the technology that the systems, the content, the process, as well as the culture, you can't leave any big stone unturned. Otherwise, you wouldn't achieve that holistic vision. And that's what essentially resulted in those projects. Don't get me wrong. Some of them are very large projects but some are very big... relatively small projects. It's a mixed bag.

Joe Toste (17:21):

That's awesome. Okay. So let's wrap up. What's the nicest thing someone has done for you?

Sunny Sanyal (17:25):

Yes, that's a really good question. I think professionally speaking, it's being able to get the breaks that I've had in my career to do the things that I've been able to do. Speaking with experience with my current employers I was fortunate enough to be able to get, to be exposed to different parts of the organization, to degenerate this holistic awareness of what the business needs and truly wants. That's given me the experience, the background to really understand what the priorities should be going forward. So I think I'm really very grateful for that in my current job.

Joe Toste (17:56):

I always really like these questions because there's two ways you can answer. There's a business and then there's the personal on the business front. I think I hit it very similar. My boss, actually at Nagarro actually rehired me. I left and then I ended up coming back and just the fact that he believed in me and rehired me for basically a job that didn't exist. I just started a podcast, which is really great. I think on the business front, having those people is fantastic. I want to give a shout out. I'm going to put you on the spot. Shout out to Kathleen Hannon, who introduced us. I know you're working with her and she is a fantastic person over at Nagarro. Thank you for coming on TechTables and have a great rest of the week.

Sunny Sanyal (18:36):

Thanks for having me, Joe. Always good to see you.

Joe Toste (18:39):

If you're interested in seeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation can do for your company. You can email Joe at joe.toste that's T-O-S-T-E @nagarro.com or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro checkout nagarro.com, that's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. You've been listening to the TechTables podcast. To make sure you never miss an episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you have an iPhone we'd love for you to open the Apple Podcasts App and leave a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more TechTables episodes you can go to techtablespodcast.com and to learn more about our sponsor, please visit nagarro.com, that's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. And of course you can find Joe Toste, your podcast host on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Joe's last name is T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.

Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders