August 13, 2020
Q: What does it mean to be customer-driven?
Tim: To me, being customer-driven starts by looking at the supply chain through the eyes of the customer and finding ways to help them improve their own service and standing with their customers. It’s our job at Lineage to be good stewards of their products no matter what your role is in the organization.
No doubt, the Operations teams at our facilities are also critical to our success with our customers. They provide top-notch service every step of the way, which is just as important as managing the relationships at the top. Once we nail the day-to-day service and support for our customers, we earn the right to grow our customer relationships and bring innovation to the table. Being customer-driven isn’t just a focus for the Sales team, it’s a focus for all 16,000 Lineage team members across the globe.
Brian: Being customer-driven is also about understanding their nuances. Each customer’s challenges and goals are unique, and being customer-driven ensures we have a solid understanding of those opportunities so we can bring solutions to the table to solve their problems. It also means that our team is proactive about identifying opportunities, coming up with a game plan, and making recommendations to improve efficiency and costs. It’s our goal at Lineage to be the team the customer counts on. We want them to count on us to do it all – because we can.
Q: What are our customer’s biggest priorities right now and how can we support?
Tim: Our customers’ priorities are widely varied, but it’s up to Lineage to be nimble and help them solve problems that they can’t tackle on their own. Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many of our customers, but in a host of different ways. Some customers are stocking inventory to prepare for shortages, while others are rebounding very quickly and trying to keep up with demand.
No matter how our customers are reacting to the current market, we circle the wagons and engage our cross-functional teams to find space across our network in order to fill the gaps and meet their needs. It takes our Operations, Account Management, Local Sales, and Business Development teams working together as a cohesive group to help our customers navigate the unknown and provide the support they need.
Brian: I agree with Tim that COVID is currently posing a lot of interesting challenges. Broadly speaking, our customers come to us as the supply chain and logistics experts. They want to focus on their strengths – making products and selling them – and they want us to take the storage and distribution burden off of them, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. Our customers’ highest priority is to keep their products moving efficiently through the supply chain, and the challenge right now is that there isn’t a smooth supply chain flow. But we can help support them by ensuring their supply chains are as efficient as possible.
Q: What is Lineage’s sales philosophy?
Tim: Our sales philosophy really goes back to the notion of being customer-driven. If you know your customers and what they need, you should be able to develop a solution that satisfies the ask. We don’t approach sales as a transactional activity. We approach sales as a solution development exercise, and we rally around solving the problem and seeing the bigger picture versus providing a list of services.
Brian: As Tim said, we focus on utilizing our strong talent and supporting functions to solve problems, and we’re fortunate to have an abundance of great team members and tools to fuel the solution development process. Our goal is always to help our customers continue to succeed and grow, so that’s our focus. In turn, we see growth as an organization when our customers succeed. It’s a win-win.
Q: What are the different sales organizations? How do your teams work together?
Brian: We have three main components to our sales team. First is the Global/National Account team, which consists of the strategic sales leaders who maintain and nurture the executive-level relationships with our top customers. The Account Management team is responsible for the executional relationships in our customers’ organizations and handles all of the day-to-day problem-solving. Finally, the Local Sales team builds relationships in specific geographical regions and at the facility level. All are equally important to our sales strategy. Certainly, with three distinct sales groups, the key to ensuring we work together is communication. I can’t say it enough – it’s so critical. All three of these teams communicate and work together to ensure consistency in the level of service and efficiency across the network for our customers.
Tim: To echo what Brian said about communication, the likelihood of success is far greater when everyone is working together. Each touchpoint that our customers encounter across the organization is equally as impactful to the overall experience our customers have with Lineage. When you can get this part right, you win.
Q: What is Lineage’s value proposition? Is it different for different customers?
Tim: I think it all starts with our values as an organization. Being bold, focusing on safety, having the right leadership structure – building off that foundation informs everything else we do. Surely, the company’s strategic acquisitions and greenfield/expansion investments drive the value our customers see when they work with Lineage. However, at the end of the day, it really boils down to our people. If our sales team is dialed-in with our customers, that creates trust and loyalty, but it starts with understanding.
Brian: I completely agree. Lineage’s value to our customers is they come to us, and they trust that we can solve their problems. It’s not about being the biggest – it’s about the desire to innovate and help our customers grow and succeed. We leverage our great resources here at Lineage to drive out waste and create efficiencies. We always ensure the absolute best for our customers.
Q: How can the rest of the organization support sales?
Brian: One of the best things about Lineage is the unbelievable talent on every single team within the organization. It doesn’t matter what team we’re working with; I’m always blown away by our team members’ enthusiasm to come together and ideate really innovative ways to approach a challenge. Every team – and individual – brings something different to the table, and with that, they bring the ability to see things from different angles. That allows us to create custom solutions for our customers. It’s unmatched by any other company out there, it’s as good as it gets.
Tim: Exactly right. When there is a complex sales opportunity, it requires a cross-functional team to be successful. Recently, we had an opportunity that was far more extensive than handing over a price to the customer. We convinced the team that we had a shot to win, and from there we rallied the troops and supported the salesperson to get our solution across the finish line. It was amazing to see the effort from this collective team of people from finance, engineering, legal, operations, marketing, project management – and so many others. The more we can support these big opportunities in the same way, the more we succeed as a company.
Q: What are your goals and how do you define success for your team?
Tim: When I think about it, my goals are focused on two main things. The first is being a good leader to my team. At this point in my career and with the tremendous growth we’ve seen at Lineage, my goal is to always put my people in a position to succeed. Sure, it’s important for the collective team to be successful, but I also want to foster individual growth and opportunities by providing the right training and tools. And secondly, I always strive to support the goals and objectives of the Executive Leadership team and do all that I can to move Lineage down the path to success.
Brian: To me, success is when I can visibly see the collaboration among the three sales teams. When I hear the Account Management team sharing about how great the local team is and vice versa, that’s a success. Hearing praise from both sides of the fence reinforces that we’re working as one cohesive team, and we’re effectively communicating with one another.
Q: What would you like the rest of your company to know about your team?
Tim: One thing that makes me proud is how committed my team is to Lineage. They’re all extremely driven individuals, but they’re not just committed to their personal growth, they’re committed to Lineage’s growth story. In everything they do, they embody the values we have at Lineage and constantly strive to represent Lineage in the best light. They wear the shield with pride.
Brian: I’ve been here a little over a year, and I can confidently say that our relationships with our customers are getting better and better by the day. And that’s the result of working together as One Lineage. There have certainly been challenges, but our customers are getting more coverage and support than ever before and I’m incredibly proud of how far this team has come.