By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s episode is entitled “Selling Across Channels and Industries: Hitting Your Number No Matter the Conditions“. We’re talking to Todd Rychecky. He’s the Vice President of America sales for Opengear, We talk about keys to developing a successful reseller strategy and talk a little bit about what it takes to build a team and getting that channel up and running. Part of the keys to success for those building out a channel program is really effective communication and coordination between yourself and between the channels. We talk about what that requires from a marketing perspective as well. For organizations used to having more direct control over the sales organization, you lose a little control with the channel side, which makes communication and messaging that much more important. He shares some keys to make sure that runs smoothly… this and a lot more!
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Matt: Well thanks everyone for joining us on another episode of Sale Pipeline Radio. As I mentioned, we are here live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. For those of you joining us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thanks for making us part of your work day. If you’re listening to us on the podcast, thank you so much for subscribing. We continue to grow our audience well over a hundred thousand listeners now for 2019. So thank you so much everyone for joining us. And you can find every episode, past, present, and future on salespipelineradio.com. Every week we’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different. Very excited to have with us the VP of American sales for Opengear, Todd Rychecky. Todd, thanks so much for joining us today.
Todd: Thanks Matt. Appreciate it. It’s been since 2009 since I’ve done live radio.
Matt: Well, welcome back. You know, 10 years. It’s never too late to get back into live radio, so I’m glad you could join us today. How is the drizzle situation wherever you’re calling in from?
Todd: Everything’s fine here. It’s sunny and blue skies. I’m in Denver, Colorado.
Matt: So the one thing I think people that aren’t familiar with Denver don’t realize it, it is sunny a lot in Denver. You get a reputation for being cold and a lot more snow in the winter, which happens, but it’s sunny a lot in Denver from what I understand.
Todd: Yeah, they say about 300 days. Yeah.
Matt: That’s not so bad. Well not that way here in Montreal, from my home base and Seattle, definitely not like that. But thanks for joining us today. I was really excited to have you join the show because I know you know we feature a lot of people that are running sales organizations and we talk about a lot of different areas and I think for us, you know there’s a few different places we can go. And one place I’m particularly interested in, I know you guys have had a lot of success building a reseller channel. And you know a lot of the companies we feature and lot of people listening, tend to gravitate more towards direct sales channel and many of them look at companies that have built resell channels, and those that have done that successfully are a little envious of what you’ve built. I would love to have you talk a little bit about how that go to market strategy kind of came about for Opengear and what has really made that reseller program so successful there.
Todd: The was a great question Matt. Our channel is one of the strongest areas of our organization. We started out initially selling direct to really anybody that would buy the product. I’ve been doing this since 2008 so I would sell directly to resellers, directly to end users and basically street prices MSRP. So we started out with just 10 partners initially and over time started growing that to a point where we had 50 to 100 of them and could no longer transact with them directly. It was too big of an AR responsibility. So we moved to the channel.
Initially it started off as a drop ship relationship with Ingram and Cynics back in 2016. We did that for about a year. When things really started to take off is when we went to a stocking relationships. No longer was the partner calling in and saying, is it in stock? What’s the lead time? How, how quickly can I get it? They see it’s in stock, they grab it and they go. So between 2017 and 2018 as we transitioned to that stocking business model, we grew the business by 100%. So the fee didn’t go from very small orders to very large enterprise orders all being handled through a distribution network. This year we doubled down on the channel and we only had a couple of guys working. My director of channel sales, Brian Kiefer, was doing along with another gentleman in Chicago, Rod Filming, but we decided to double down on it.
So we now have three regions, overlays, channel sales managers on the West, central and East along with a dedicated channel sales engineer that has been with us since 2013 but we moved them into a new role in January. That’s really paid dividends. The channel likes having a technical resource to help them answer technical questions. So the other thing that we did, we had a partner summit last week. We announced the new elite level. So we now have enough partners that we can have a couple of levels. So we have an elite level, a premier level, and then a standard level. And all these elites they’re all doing $1 million or more. And we have eight of them now. So it’s been a really, really a great growth story channel for us here at Opengear.
Matt: Wow, that’s amazing. I think for a lot of companies trying to figure out their go to market strategy, you’re wondering, you’re thinking about where they can sort of expand sales opportunities. I think building a channel is quite attractive, right? Because now you say, okay, I’ve got other people selling for me. I don’t have to build a lot of those direct sales sort of resources and costs internally. But I think what a lot of people don’t think about is the amount of time it takes to get a channel up and running successfully. Talk a little bit about how you handled that at Opengear and really how you then sort of conditioned the organization to have the discipline and the patience to help develop that channel into where it’s been so successful today.
Todd: Yeah, I think it’s really about hiring the right people. I didn’t come from a channel background, a pure channel background. I was more of an end user guy closing large opportunities, and had to find the right person. And I did that in 2015 and realize it was going to take some time. So there were a lot of cycles, a lot of effort, a lot of awareness activities. But you know, after about a year of doing that we started seeing things happen. And I started to see the reach that the channel could provide us as I started seeing these point of sale reports with these large organizations buying our product that I didn’t know. I just thought they were resellers drop shipping it to themselves and you didn’t know where it went. So you started to see the reach that you had there and now you have hundreds of sales reps potentially.
So the trick there is awareness and keeping them educated on what you’re releasing, whether it’s existing products or new products and making sure that message then gets to the end user, their customer base. So we do a lot of account mapping. I think that’s one of the best kept secrets in the industry. Where’s the overlap between who you know and who I know? That’s really important. And then that intelligence allows you to, to move much more quickly with an opportunity and get in quicker.
So the other thing that we like to do, not only with end users, with our regional sales management team to the channel, is to get wider, deeper, higher. I talk about it all the time. So WDH so it’s much easier to go into an organization where you’ve already sold some product to get into other business units within that organization than it is to start over and it take you a year to win a new opportunity. So we spend a lot of time doing that. Not only with the end users, but our channel team talks to the partners about who else do you do business with. Okay, you do business with these guys, but you have 20 other customers that could also benefit from our solutions. So that’s been very successful for us.
Matt: That’s awesome. We’re talking to Todd Rychecky today. He’s the Vice President of America sales for Opengear, and really talking about keys to developing a successful reseller strategy and talk a little bit about kind of what it takes to build a team and sort of get that channel up and running. And you just referenced this Todd, I think part of the keys to success for those that are building out a channel program is also really effective communication and coordination between yourself and between the channels. Talk a little bit about what that requires from a marketing perspective as well. For organizations that are used to having more direct control over the sales organization, you lose a little control with the channel side, which makes that communication and messaging that much more important. What are some keys to make sure that runs smoothly?
Todd: Well, I think from my standpoint it’s a lot about just the culture, the company culture, the sales culture. And it’s about, for me, the message getting into customer is one thing. But being accountable and urgency, communication and teamwork is all really, really important because we work in these regional teams. So getting back with people, for example, one of the things that everyone is required here is they have to get back with customers in 15 minutes. There’s no exceptions there. And we ask every salesperson to achieve this. Achieving your sales target is really not optional. So when you get to a point where your culture is solid, then your teammates in the region start holding themselves and each other accountable. It’s a beautiful thing.
So getting that message out to the partner is really a matter of the culture that’s been created and making sure that we have all this information, but is it getting to the right people at the right time? So if you hire the right people and you have that culture of accountability, then then the message gets there and it gets there quickly. And then it’s just a matter of follow through and follow up for them and make sure that that they have what they need and they can be successful with what you’ve delivered.
Matt: When it comes to differences in who you’re selling to, when you think about selling into different industries, how you account for that then, as part of that channel as well. Do you have certain channel partners that you count on for particular vertical industries, or is it just sort of managing the complexity of saying we’ve got a different messages or different angle within a single channel or within a single reseller for multiple industries? How do you manage that, those differences?
Todd: That’s a great question, thanks Matt. So we work within many vertical markets. It’s not nothing horizontal. I mean it’s more horizontal. So because it’s really anyone with a router, switcher, or a firewall. So we play in retail, we play in finance, healthcare, manufacturing, technology, and hyper scale. So it’s really what you wear, what you drive, what you use, Opengear’s a part of that network. And our sales team calls on all those different vertical markets, as do our partners. Our partners have different, I think they have business units within their organization that calls specifically on finance, but all of our team is trained to be able to call on any of those organizations. And I think our marketing along with it focuses. We have campaigns, like in Q2 we did a retail campaign in Q3 we’re doing finance. Next quarter we’re doing healthcare.
So just a little bit here. Our products and solutions allow these organizations to launch and provision remote and remotely access their network infrastructure all over the world. So the products are certified on the majority of these global networks. So these organizations, these vertical markets have offices everywhere. So it’s a fast, easy, flexible way for them to monitor and manage this network that’s critical to their business. Because these guys, they say 98% of orgs, a single hour of downtime can cost $100,000. And that’s what we prevent. We prevent downtime so that they can transact.
Matt: Now Todd, you’ve cut your teeth and I’m not going to give away how old you are because I’m not totally sure. But I’m looking at your resume, and you’ve cut your teeth in a variety of different industries. You’ve been in telecom, you’ve been in healthcare. What are some of the things that you think that in your role leading an organization now through sales growth like you have, what are things that you still call on in both your leadership skills as well as just sort of sales skills that harken back to some of your days of carrying a bag with Verizon, Cardinal Health and others.
Todd: Sure. Well, that’s a great question. I don’t ever ask anyone on my team to do something that I haven’t already asked myself to do. So that’s number one. But just going back to the sales structure and the culture, I created a superhero theme back in 2017 and I initiate every new hire with a superhero name based on their personality and role on the team. So many of them actually today call each other by their superhero name and we’d like to keep it fun and competitive. I think that’s really important. It’s not fun then people don’t want to work there. And competitive is important too. Everybody that works for me is competing but in a fun way. And I like that about my team.
I think recognition is important. The team wants to be recognized. I send out a boom email when I see a $100,000 order. I recognize them and their team, the regional team, when they close an opportunity. I think those things are, are very important. Having a president’s club is important. We’ve done that now for two years. So I think those types of things are important to keep it fun, to keep it creative and engaging.
The other thing that I started doing is using video more honestly. We do biweekly GoToMeetings with the regions and used to be just, like we’re talking now, you can’t see each other. But now we’ve gone to video. I think being remote workers, which I’ve been my whole life, I’ve never worked in an office since 1991, it’s important to be able to see the people you’re working with. And as a sales team now with 21, 22 people under me, it’s good to stay connected. I think those types of things are very important to a successful sales organization.
Matt: Yeah, I agree with you. Absolutely. Well, we’re going to take a quick break. Pay some bills. We’ll be right back with more with Todd Rychecky. He’s the Vice President of Sales, Americas for Opengear. We’re going to talk a little more about the reseller program, but also want to talk about sales culture and what it takes to build a successful sales organization in 2019. We’ll be right back. Sales Pipeline Radio.
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Matt: All right, well thank you Paul. Back with our guest today, the Vice President of Sales, Americas for Opengear. And Todd, you were alluding to some of the best practices you put in place to really create a successful sales organization. And it’s one thing to hit your number. It’s another thing to create an organization that really runs smoothly and is prepared for growth. And I know you guys were recently named one of Selling Power’s 50 best companies to sell for, which is quite an achievement given how many companies they look at on an annual basis. You talked about the cadence of communication and meetings and seeing each other. What are some other keys that you think have led to the recognition of being a great place to sell for, and what are some of the things that you see and are maybe most proud of that you built in your sales organization?
Todd: Yeah, the President’s Club is a great incentive. Obviously we went to Cancun two years ago and Cabo last year, but I also implemented about two years ago, quarterly sales awards. So the top percent to quota, the Summit Award is for the RSM, the regional sales manager. The Spotlight Award is for the solution architect and the Channel Chief is for the channel sales manager. And so it’s a nice piece of crystal, it sits on their desk. And so what the team tries to do is take it from you. So they’re trying to hold onto it as long as they can, quarter after quarter. And as soon as they lose, if they do, then they have to ship to that RSM, for example, that won. So that’s been a nice competitive thing and a nice quarterly award that I think helped our organization here in the U.S. grow the business.
But I believe the constant recognition is important for achieving sales, consistent growth. We’ve had 12 years of year over year growth. We’ve never had a down year, a flat year. The first six years I was here, it was 50% or more. And it continues to do very, very well in the last five years. So I think coaching, as you know, you probably talked to a lot of VP’s and CEO’s, it’s a constant reinforcement of what you want and why. So I take time out and when I call a play, I expect everyone to run it or it doesn’t work. So therefore, they know that running your own play is not an option. And I think, ultimately credibility as a manager or coach is really, really important. People want to come to work for people that have been successful or have done things the right way. And so that helps. And they want to come to an organization that has credibility. And I think those things all help in creating an environment where people want to come to work, be successful, and achieve sales targets.
Matt: Okay. Well speaking of plays and partnerships, talk a little bit about how you think about the relationship between sales and marketing, and what are some of the keys that you look for from a marketing organization to successfully partner with sales? Not just strategically but on a day to day and week to week basis.
Todd: Yeah, I have a biweekly call with my Vice President of Marketing. It’s very, very important. We have a channel marketing person as well. So that is one of the things that is critical from my perspective in the role that I am in, that it aligns with what’s going out in the field, what I’m hearing from the regional sales managers, what I’m hearing from inside sales, because if they don’t align then it doesn’t work. So we discuss a lot of different ideas, whether it’s trade shows or social or if it’s this is what we’re doing today, things that we can get the word out. So those types of things are very important in the organization. But I think just having those routine meetings and being able to look at a marketing calendar and what’s coming up and what we can do differently, how do we course correct, those types of things are all very, very important. So we continue to build out our marketing organization as we scale our sales. So it has grown along with us.
Matt: Absolutely. So as you continue to grow, achieving some of those same sales growth numbers obviously it gets harder and harder. What are some of your goals for improving Opengear sales in the coming quarters, in the coming years? How are you looking at your go to market strategy differently? Or what are the things that you’re prioritizing to continue that level of growth?
Todd: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think a lot of it is, we’re going to be hiring some more people and I plan on hiring someone in Chicago, someone in Atlanta. I promoted a couple of guys. Now promoted six people, as I said earlier. And two of them now recently are effectively on October 1st they’re going to back fill Atlanta and Chicago, and we’re going to add someone up in Toronto. So I plan on doing that in short order probably in the next three to six months.
So the thing that that’s really important is all these same sales candidates that I have go through the same series of sales questions or interview questions. I call them my dirty dozen. Do you want to win or do you need to win? That’s one of them. But they also must exhibit self-starter characteristics because they’re all going to be working from a home office. And they must have a history of achieving quota. So I think that’s a big part of is finding the right people and being consistent there.
I think sales training is really, really important. Not only we want to train our people, we want to train our partners, we want to train our end users. So I think that is very, very important. Now riding with the salespeople and providing that coaching one on one, I haven’t been able to do that as often as I want to because I’m in scale mode. But now that I’ve got the hierarchy in place we can do that. LinkedIn and Sales Navigator training is one of those continual things that we do. Everyone on my team is very big into social selling. And we use LinkedIn a lot to identify prospects, get alerts when they move, those types of things and stay connected, like and share different things, different articles. And we even have people that post. So all those things are very important.
I think we talk a lot about training and selling tips and tricks. So we like to share those amongst our group. I think that’s very important. Then we have this one training module that we do, it’s called ask the se, the sales engineer. So he’ll sit down and the team can ask him any question they want, any technical question that’s come up in the sales cycle. So those types of things are very, very important and have created an environment for success.
Matt: I love that. We’ll wrap it up just a couple more minutes here with Todd Rychecky, and Todd, thanks so much for joining us. I know that it is the end of the month here and end of the quarter, and I know that’s a busy time. So I appreciate you spending time here. If you could look back at your career and your growth path and the people that have influenced you, who were some people that may have stood out? They can be former managers, they can be authors, they can be professors, just people that have impacted you in a positive way in your career that you might recommend other people check out as well.
Todd: Well, there’s people in your family, I think of my uncle Jim. I think of the people that I’ve worked with, the CEOs I’ve worked with, like here, Gary Marks and, and Joe Perle at Perle Systems. They all have an influence in how you operate and the things they share with you. And they’re my litmus tests for new ideas. So those have all been very, very important in my career, various sales managers. I think while personally I’ve been influenced from an accountability standpoint is Tom Osborne. I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and I watched how he held his teams accountable and they won championship after championship after championship. And so those are the things that I try to take and coach my team on and seeing that the results are there and the proof is there, so let’s go out and do this. So I would say that’s probably those are the people that I look up to.
Matt: Love it. Love it. Well, I want to thank our guests again today. Thanks so much Todd for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We don’t get a chance, Paul, to spend a lot of time thinking about the channel and resale. We spend a lot of time talking about direct sales and sales and marketing together. So really helpful to hear some of the keys to driving success. And congrats to Opengear not only on that kind of stuff, sales and growth, but also achieving that kind of growth while also being a well-respected company to sell for, to work for in the sales organization. Pretty impressive.
If you want to hear this episode again, if you want to share this with your colleagues, if you’re in marketing and want to share this with your sales counterparts who may be thinking about building out a channel you can find this episode on demand at salespipelineradio.com. You’ll also find a transcript of our conversation with Todd up on Heinzmarketing.com here in about a week. But for today, we’re out of time. For my great producer Paul, on behalf of my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.