In an interview, Martin Leopold details how sales centers on strict customer-orientation, more transparency and optimal interfacing with customers.
With over 20 years of management experience in the logistics industry, you primarily centered your career at DHL Freight on Finance before taking the role as Chief Sales Officer two years ago. Comparing these very different fields, what would you say has changed the most?
For me, the one thing that changed most is the perspective I have now on our business. Whereas I was very much focused on numbers, reports and overall performance when I was in Finance, I am now much closer to our customers. I’m more aware of their needs as well as our solutions that we are able to offer to make their lives easier.
Our customers expect greater transparency. At the same time, digitalization is increasing. That’s why we‘re developing specific apps.Chief Sales Officer Martin Leopold
How do you see customer needs changing in the future and how is the global sales department positioned to best meet new special requirements?
There is a growing demand from our customers for more transparency, such as Track and Trace, and increased digitalization using electronic interfaces instead of manual data entry. In this case we develop tailor-made customer solutions and connected supply chains to ensure full transparency throughout the entire transportation process. Also our telematics provider Agheera makes it possible to monitor and track your shipments in real-time. From a Group perspective, customers expect a one-stop-shopping solution, which means that especially our major clients, who are buying services from different DHL divisions, want only one single customer interface. So, how can we as a sales organization respond? Connect! We need to align better with our IT experts to find ways to give our customers the interfaces they are asking for. And regarding the one-stop-shopping concept, we will be intensifying our efforts to work with other DHL business units to deliver an end-to-end solution to the customer.
Digitalization and the simplification of ordering processes are important points for customers…
DHL Freight launched the Freight Quote Tool last year to give customers an easy opportunity to get an online quote for a shipment and then book via our customer service. This is a huge step forward in our digitalization journey and significantly improves how customers can do business with us. Currently we are working on an online customer portal to allow already existing customers to benefit by using their individual specific rates to book shipments, as well as to access other services like reporting and ordering a shipment pick-up. This will make our customers’ lives much easier.
What is DHL Freight doing to improve Customer Service quality?
We are currently implementing a standardized high-end customer service tool called ICE, that will put us in a position to answer all customer requests in a state-of-the-art manner. This means that we will have a standardized organization with standardized processes in place that are supported by a professional tool. On the one hand this will dramatically improve the customer experience when they call or write an email to us, and on the other hand it also enables us to learn from each other across the company and implement best practices to improve our customers' satisfaction. For our multinational customers we pursue the one-face-to-the-customer approach. This sees a dedicated contact person ensure a high-quality cross-border service is delivered.
What role is Saloodo! playing in DHL Freight sales developments today and how do you expect it to develop over the course of the year?
Our start-up Saloodo! offers a digital freight platform that gives carriers the possibility to optimize their truck load capacity. The digital solution actually comprises 18,000 shippers and more than 7,000 carriers with around 250,000 trucks in more than 25 European countries. Recently it has been launched in the United Arab Emirates and offers a user-friendly end-to-end solution for your entire transportation process. Smaller customers now have the option of placing an order on our auction platform and thus find a very competitive price while – at the same time – enjoying a smooth and easy process from online data entry to electronic payment by credit card.
A growing number of customers are setting challenging emissions goals and are asking for greener solutions.Improving user experience and measurable process
simplification are top priorities for Martin Leopold.
DHL Freight is investing a lot in alternative drive technologies. Do you think green transportation plays an important role for your customers in choosing DHL Freight services?
Yes, it plays a very important role for them – and for us, too, since we have a 2050 target of being emission free. More and more customers have decided to incorporate similarly ambitious emission targets into their plans and this is why it has become an integral part of our discussions with customers, who are asking us to provide greener solutions. We’re not only talking about increasing rail use, but also turning to truck engines with alternative fuels like LNG or even electric trucks.
How would you compare the sales situation for DHL Freight in the first quarter of 2018 with today? How have the sales figures developed and what specific steps were undertaken
that have led to these developments?
In the first quarter 2018 we were still at the beginning of setting up our new sales organization. Now we’ve completed that and I am more than happy that we were able to onboard a lot of very skilled and highly motivated people. Today I can say that we are fired up and ready to go. In terms of numbers, we started 2019 very well, showing roughly six percent growth over last year, which is very encouraging. It gives all our sales people a lot of momentum to achieve even more in the course of the year.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year? In particular, what are the primary focus sales topics for 2019 and what major challenges does the DHL Freight Sales department face?
There are three topics that we will focus on in 2019. The first will be to continue working on completing our Sales Effectiveness Program that we launched in Valencia in 2017. The second one is to fully integrate our new colleagues – particularly in terms of Sector Expertise – so we are a really strong team as quickly as possible. And last but not least, we have learned from our Employee Opinion Survey (EOS) analysis that closer collaboration with other functions, countries and Business Units (BUs) is very important. We believe that we have potential to improve in that area. That’s why we will be doing our utmost to connect with other people better and more often. And, that by the way also fits perfectly with the Group’s strategy. In terms of challenges we face, I have to admit that I have never been as confident as I am at the moment with this strong team. I’ll even be so bold as to say that I can’t foresee any challenges that our team won’t be able to master.
You mentioned that DHL Freight is working on other new IT structures. What are the key benefits for customers and how do they improve the integration between Sales and administrative or financial workflows?
Our new standardized Transport Management System – known as EVO – will above all help Operations to maintain a consistent overview of our operational performance across the whole Freight network. It will provide full transparency concerning where we are currently handling what volumes and for which customers.
Are any new customer-oriented sales training programs planned for Key Account Managers or for sales assistants, who are taking on additional back-office organizational tasks?
Yes, we are currently planning a series of training updates to enhance our Quest for Sales Excellence (QSE) training for our key account managers. Beyond that we are also going to refresh our tender management training and the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) training that is related to our SAP CRM system I-SELL, which we share with our colleagues from DHL Global Forwarding (DGF).
In terms of our challenges, I must admit that I have never been so confident as I am with our current strong team. I would even say that there is no challenge that our team can’t meet.Martin Leopold’s outlook for this business year is optimistic – he has established a strongly sales-oriented team.
Martin Leopold is responsible for Global Sales at DHL Freight. Previously, he was Chief Financial Officer for the division and has been a member of the DHL Freight Management Board since 2014. Before joining Deutsche Post DHL Group, he worked as a management consultant for CTcon GmbH, where he was in charge of leading a variety of projects. He began his career in 1997 after graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Business Administration from the University of Münster. In his free time he enjoys sports and cooking, preferably together with his daughter. In addition, traveling to the west coast of the USA and Canada is a great passion, where he feels most at home in San Francisco.