David Morton is a highly successful sales leader with over 20 years’ strategic sales and sales management experience. He is a result-orientated, consultative leader with an excellent understanding of CRM, BPO and Digital Automation markets pertinent to both the Public and Private Sectors. He is currently leading HGS UK through an exciting growth phase as Chief Revenue Officer as well as building sustainable, valued relationships with its existing clients as the organisations Chief Customer Officer.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, David shared his insights on the top B2B tech market trends to watch out for in 2024, his career trajectory, what sets Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) apart from other market competitors, the driving force behind his successful career, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Can you share a few top-of-mind predictions you have for the B2B tech market in 2024?
Believe/don’t believe (…the hype of AI). AI is set to massively shape the B2B tech market in a number of ways. Firstly, every client will need to have an AI strategy. Every CIO, every CTO will need to ask themselves: what does AI means to us our business, and how can we capitalise on it?
Secondly, every vendor in the market will have either have their own AI offering, or a roadmap/partnership with a vendor/software provider who can provide an element of AI that enhances their tools. Every CRM and BPO provider will talk about an AI capability within their business. As such, there’ll be a lot of confusion in the market regarding what AI can actually do for an organisation.
Lots of people must avoid just charging down a rabbit hole, talking about AI being the solution, and then look for a problem to fix it. Instead, smart thinking will be taking a step further back and engaging with experts who understand the market, as well as the current technology landscape, and how that can be enhanced with AI. And then, really importantly, ascertaining what this means for their business, making sure they deploy these innovative and interesting technology solutions, which could include AI, into their vertical market and specific business.
Overall, I believe that B2B technology vendors will all be going AI crazy, and they’ll all have an AI offering in some form or another. However, I think the ones that will differentiate themselves will be those that take a bit more of a subjective view and can provide that real insight and consultancy to talk about what the successful outcomes are that you could derive from having new automation solutions. This includes generative AI, large language models and all of those tools which can help deliver better business outcomes.
The other aspect, of course, is there’s a lot of market consolidation currently taking place, with some of the biggest vendors in CX space acquiring each other. The net effect, again, is a lot of confusion for clients, who are asking themselves what this means for them.
We do know that in a very large client environment, where they share their work across multiple vendors and across multiple geographies, this is a real disruption in the market. Therefore, they need to look for other vendors to supply them, so they’re not dependent on a single vendor.
David, please tell us about your background path to your current role. What inspires you about being in Sales/Revenue roles?
My background is perhaps a bit of an unusual one – I was initially a Royal Marine Commando! I’ve always been very competitive in everything I do. When I left the Royal Marines, my competitiveness remained, and I still participate in a variety of sports that allow me to continue to compete in various ways.
Since leaving the Royal Marines, I have been in sales for more than 25 years. I’ve done this in a lot of large corporates, as well as some, smaller vendors, both in the UK and with some global opportunities. I began my working life in the technology space before moving into business process outsourcing and customer experience.
Sales was a natural area for me to go into, where I could put myself, my mind, my knowledge, and my enthusiasm against others in the market. The excitement of meeting new clients, new prospects, understanding their business, understanding new vertical markets, and having really interesting, sensible conversations with them about how we can address their business problems still excites me every day.
I genuinely enjoy meeting new prospects and hearing about their business, and then trying to understand if there’s a way that we can help them achieve their objectives.
What sets Hinduja Global Solutions apart from other market competitors?
The CX market is currently very confused. Lots of companies are eating each other’s breakfast, all vying to be the biggest business in the market. Every organisation got a slide pack that says they’re number one, and they’ve all got some fantastic references. And at HGS we’re no different.
However, as a privately owned, global organisation with significant tech capability, we are trying to come to the market from a slightly different perspective. We consider ourselves absolute experts in our field and our chosen markets – deploying a sniper approach instead of a scattergun one, as a hint to my past.
We use the technology we have in house, as well as globally with some significant partnerships, to really deliver digital automation, outcome driven solutions that are particularly pertinent to specific vertical markets and as experts in those verticals, really engaging with people on a different level as opposed to just being a generalist.
What you will see between now and the next three years is significant investment into capabilities that really springboard us from where we are currently to absolutely stratospheric engagement and internal capability of next generation technology solutions. As we expect to see automation take a huge leap forward over the next 24 months, along with the shift from people-based solutions, we want to become a leader in that space.
We have already got the investment in place ready to acquire and to grow, both organically and inorganically, to ensure that we are catapulted ahead of the market. Therefore, the offers we make to our current clients, as well as future prospects, are really innovative, showing them, we’ve got the capability to deliver the services they desire in-house.
What does transparency mean in your role, and why is it important to you?
Transparency is significant in my role. It is one of not only leadership but informing the UK board and the team of my future intent. If I don’t do that as a team, then I can’t be successful.
Having ultimate transparency about what we’re looking to achieve, how we’re looking to achieve it, and, most importantly, what component part and critical role each individual member of the team will play, is a necessity for me.
Building not only transparency, but also a great team culture is massively important to me because culture trumps strategy every time. An organisation can have the greatest strategy in the world, but if they don’t have a fantastic team on board with them, then they’ll achieve nothing.
What’s more, the transparency goes beyond just articulating what I’m doing, but also sharing the secret sauce and insights. When we’ve done something new, interesting, and innovative in the UK, I share that insight and best practice with our branches located in the North America and the Asian markets, which I hope is then reciprocated.
Have you experienced failure and, if so, how have you processed that? What are your thoughts on failure?
I’ve experienced failure on a number of levels – and probably some of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had have come from those. For instance, I was previously engaged on a large strategic request for proposal (RFP), where we were relatively confident, we were leading the pack and that we were in a great place to win the business. In the end, we didn’t win it.
Going back and getting the detailed feedback, warts and all, regarding what we didn’t do so well really highlighted the areas that, initially as a business, we thought we were doing a 10 out of 10 jobs on, but in reality, this wasn’t the case.
Most importantly, individuals must be prepared to hear about why they failed and take on board the harsh feedback they received in order to learn from the experience. They cannot bury it and just say it was a rubbish client or that they were disgruntled.
In this industry, organisations propensity to win new business is always less than 50 per cent. The odds are that individuals are always going to lose more new business than they win, which is something they must be prepared for. But they need to be able to get back up, dust themselves off, and go again. Having the resilience to embrace this feedback, as well as learn from it, is an imperative trait to have.
Is prioritizing customer satisfaction something you have consciously pursued throughout your career?
It’s something that is talked about constantly from a new business perspective. However, once the business has been secured, there are instances when less focus is given to it.
In my new role as both Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Customer Officer, that’s an important differentiator. I need to not only be accountable for everything that we do in terms of net new revenue generation and helping to acquire and attract new brands to the company, but of equal importance, I’m accountable for delivering that long-term relationship to clients. As such, I’m never going to promise something which the business can’t deliver.
As we evolve through the next generation of technology, delivering improved technology solutions to existing clients will help the longevity that businesses have with their existing client environments. Therefore, having customer satisfaction should be something that earns organisations the right to deliver more to their existing clients. Ultimately, they’ll be able to extend the contract beyond its primary term.
What has been the driving force in your career to become a highly successful sales leader and what has kept you focused and motivated in your life?
I’m a highly motivated individual who gets up every day simply wanting to do more, wanting to win more. I do that not only by having solid experience and expertise in the industry, but I absolutely believe that being physically and mentally fit, as well as up for the challenge, is just as important.
Every day, whether I swim, cycle, run, climb, or I even do something as simple as walk my dog, I use this time to get a bit of mindfulness and make sure that I’ve got my head in the right place so that I’m enthused for the working day ahead. I want to ensure that when I get to my desk, I go and do something new and create successful outcomes.
I never have a day of work where I get up, and I think it’s just been another day in the office. This is partially because of the varied elements of my role, engaging with new customers and existing clients every day, in addition to pushing the team to do more and to be better. I don’t find I need to motivate myself per se. It’s something that comes relatively effortlessly to me.
How do you see the role of the typical B2B CRO evolve today; what are some of the things that CRO’s need to do more of now that they probably didn’t a decade ago?
In the past, the CRO was probably more of a sales director, with the role largely focused on net new business acquisition and the idea that the bigger the total contract value, the better. However, this is an old school approach.
Nowadays, I believe the CRO role is looking at the overall revenue of the business, both from new and existing clients. Critically, it’s looking at the profitability as much as the total contract value, as well as recognizing that the margins we can achieve through digital transformation and innovative technologies are significantly higher than those traditional margins through people-based solutions.
Using this as a backdrop to what the role of a CRO looks like today, it is a much more insightful one. It’s about long-term relationships and how throughout the term of the contact, we can deliver more instead of simply providing what we signed up to on day one.
It is also a much more involved role than ever before. Instead of just focusing on new business and front-end sales, there’s far more of a 360-degree engagement of the customer throughout the term that you have – something which didn’t exist a decade ago.
How can revenue leaders/sales leaders today do things differently to help their teams and businesses drive more brand ROI despite current market dynamics / challenges?
Although it may be unusual for those in sales, it’s important to consider structure and process. We can be fortunate and win some deals, and we can be unfortunate and lose some. It’s necessary to have structure and rigor in our processes that clearly define what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, so that if we’re successful in handling these operations, we’re able to scale the business. If we don’t have those structured processes, then we can be busy fools, which means we can start to let people down.
Renueve leaders must also ensure they’re clear about the areas in which they do and don’t compete. This ensures they’re experts in their field instead of being generalists. What’s more, if we’re going to test the market in certain markets, it’s good to fail fast. For example, there will be times that we try and enter a new vertical market. However, when this happens, it’s important to recognise when it’s not working and to accept you’ve failed instead of wasting time and energy on a situation which cannot be resolved.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Well, I’m 54 and I’m constantly pushing myself to be fitter every year to give myself new physical challenges. I hope to stick to this as the years go by as I believe my physical and mental fitness helps me in my business life.
At HGS, we’ve got significant growth plans, both in the UK and globally. I see myself playing a very large part in this, increasing the breadth of the role I currently have so that it spans more geographies than just the UK.
Nevertheless, I still see myself in the same environment in five years’ time, delivering the same services and doing the same tasks I’m currently working on, just on a greater scale with a larger team, looking after more clients, and with different combinations that are more technology focused.
Can you please share a few best practices that you feel every CRO needs to implement as part of their daily activity to drive overall growth goals and keep their teams on their toes?
Every CRO should have structured processes in place. This enables them to know where they are playing, while it allows them to be clear about the vertical markets, they operate in so they can go and be experts in that market. When employees go and talk to a customer, they should be an expert in that customer, understanding their business, their markets, and their competitors.
Adding to this, maintaining a motivated and engaged sales force is absolutely critical. Sales leads cannot be successful without a highly motivated and great team behind them. They need to feel integrated and rewarded as part of the team. As a business, we need to be very clear in terms of what we’re asking them to deliver, so they feel they’re not working alone.
They also need to be motivated financially. This requires challenging but rewarding targets so that when they meet the revenue expectations, they are well rewarded.
With existing clients, being clear and having well defined plans is imperative. We need to outline what we do and what the minimum expectation is for the client in terms of what we are contracted to do. The bigger, more exciting and interesting element concerns how we’re going to exceed our initial targets and what we can do to blow the clients’ socks off, with the goal of helping theme to grow their existing client base.
It is also important to challenge the existing client managers to pursue the markets, understand the markets, understanding our clients so that we’re able to do more and to grow more with those clients. Growing more doesn’t necessarily always mean going to the top line in terms of total contract ownership, or total contract value. Instead, we could be delivering some digital innovative capabilities which reduce the overall revenue and increase the margin. As such, growth doesn’t always mean increasing the top line, but it certainly will deliver better outcomes both from the client side and for us.