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“Having A Global Team Makes It Easy For Account Management”: National Instruments

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What are the new strategies that Fabio Cortinovis, regional sales director of National Instruments plans to implement in India? In a one-on-one discussion with Electronicsforu.com Network, he discussed NI’s new strategy and how he plans to ensure its successful implementation in India…

Fabio Cortinovis, regional sales director of National Instruments

Q) Can you share your thoughts on taking charge of NI in India?
First of all, I’m very excited as this is a great opportunity for me personally, as well as for the company to venture out into a new marketplace. Working for a global company nowadays requires getting rid of geographical boundaries.

I’m the director for the south EMEIA Field Sales team (Europe, Middle East, India). This includes India as well. I began my work in the technical department and later moved into sales. In all, I’ve been with NI for 30 years.

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I’m eager to take any challenges that support our core strategic vision to be the leader in software-defined automated test and automated measurement systems.

Due to changes in the economic climate that keeps affecting an organisation, we need to evolve to keep up with the latest technological advancements. We want to be very customer-centric, deepening the relationship with our customers to provide a better service and product offering.  

To execute our core strategic vision, we have identified four industries for growth: semiconductor, transportation, aerospace/defense, and a fourth area we call, Portfolio, which includes our broad-base businesses. In EMEIA, we see great potential in all these industries, and specifically in India, we’re seeing potential in the aerospace and defense market as well as automotive.

Q) Would that be something that is common across all the other NI regions as well?
Absolutely, yes.

Q) What is your take on NI being able to capitalise the Indian potential so far? Where do you see it in the next 2–3 years?
India can be considered as an emerging technology power hub. And it has several well established, top-notch technology-driven organisations. So, I think it is now time for NI to have a similar organisation in place for India.  A lot of our Indian engineers who previously worked for India will now be responsible for the entire EMEIA region.

Q) With respect to accounts management, will India play a role in revenue decisions, or will such be marked under global accounts?
Having a global team makes it easy for account management. The global account manager usually drives and supervises all the decisions for a region. In the end, it is the overall number that really matters to NI.

Q) Any thoughts on how you plan to expand NI’s market in India?
I am looking forward to driving the field sales team. Our commitment to focus on few selected industries will surely allow us to bridge the gap between our current product offering and customer demands. So, there is a lot of work to be done to bridge that gap. But, there is room for growth and indeed, India will keep growing over the years.

Q) With the 5G solution coming in, and quite a few companies working on this technology, do you see any scope for NI to set up a prototyping and validation center in India?
Yes. The production sites are mostly out of India (APAC, or Asia-Pacific region), but we do have a design center in India for 5G technologies. The goal is to continue working with this division since India plays an important role in this as any other nation. 

Q) Coming back to the account-based model at NI, is the account manager a salesperson (and not a technical person)?
The accounts manager is responsible for building up of strong relations with the customer in order to serve in the best way and thus accelerate the efficiency and effectiveness of NI. Through an account-based model, NI wishes to become a part of the decision-making process. The work is not technical, and the infrastructure will have an account manager who is supported by technical application engineers, marketing, business development manager and Alliance partner. Thus, each function supports our above-mentioned strategy in order to pursue our goals.

Q) Are there any training programs taking place in order to convert traditional salespeople into such function supporters?
It is a major cultural change for the salespeople. We do run several training programs. However, the training alone cannot entirely provide a behavioural change for people involved in sales.

So, NI is fostering and nurturing a working environment where the entire organisation adopts a new working attitude with the customer. And all this is quite important in recognising and maintaining NI’s great relations with its customers.

Q) Who owns the new customers in this kind of strategy? Will there be a space for new business developers involving small customers or for is it only for high-value customers?
In our holistic work environment, the inside sales division acts like an account manager that takes care of all the accounts that don’t belong to the field manager account bracket. For this, virtual visits are made to the customer (either small or big) through Skype or email. This also helps us in maintaining good relations with them.

Q) Since your approach is now more accounts oriented, is there still a space for promoting new products and technologies?
We are committed to offering an open, software-defined platform that accelerates the development and performance of the automated test and automated measurement systems. Our business teams are comprised of people who have deep knowledge about the current technology trends for a specific industry. The goal is to remove any communication obstacles between the corporates and the customers. This will help us to gain insight into the latest technology trends and innovation, which in turn provides us with a roadmap to develop new NI products.

Q) So will there be account managers with their own set of accounts (aerospace and defense, automotive, semiconductors, academics) that is depending upon the region in which a particular industry is located?
Correct. For each account site, we have measured the potential of a particular technology and taking into account different factors, we have created this structure. Currently, this is in process and will come into effect for India by the end of June 2019.

Q) Do neighbouring countries like Pakistan and others also come under this proposal?
At present, our strategy for these countries is through our distributions and channel partners.

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