Executive Conversation recently visited with Chuck McLean, General Manager IT, at RealNetworks where he has responsibility for global enterprise applications, system administration, and 9 service desks sites across North America, AMEA and APAC. We spoke with Chuck about what he looks for and values when working with sales professionals.
Q: How do you decide with which vendors you agree to meet?
A: The most important variable is if we have an initiative in the space that they operate. Otherwise, I delete most unsolicited requests unless I have a pre-existing relationship. The main reason is that too many vendors tell me what they want, like 30 minutes of my time, instead of telling me what’s in it for my company. As buyers, we don’t really care what vendors want.
Q: How can sellers best build credibility with you?
A: By being prepared. For example, I just came into this role a little over a year ago. When I meet with existing vendors, they should be able to do a really good job telling me what solutions of theirs we’re already using, and how much business we’re doing together. While this would seem simple, vendors incur a lot of turnover and regularly change Account Executives (AE) without doing a proper job transitioning. This rarely adds value for me. In fact, when a new AE shows up and wants in effect to interview me because they don’t know our business, I view them as a cost because they require more of my time.
Q: What’s an appropriate role for vendors to play in projecting pre-deal ROI numbers?
A: It’s hard to close a deal, especially larger CapEx investments. I welcome their help in making it easy to articulate a solution’s business value vs. just its technical capabilities. One recent example was when we were working with a reseller who provided an assessment which helped identify the full set of returns the project could deliver.
Q: How have business metrics differed across the industries you’ve worked?
A: It definitely makes a difference if an organization is in growth mode, or cost management mode. Companies in a fast growth stage don’t require as rigid of cost justification. They’re focused on sustaining growth, and may use more subjective criteria. In contrast, within a no growth or shrinking environment, the focus is on cost reduction. In the latter scenario, sellers need to align their value to areas like how they can free up headcount to do other value added work.
Q: After a project has been implemented and reasonable time passed, what role should vendors play in conducting post-project ROI analyses?
A: Everyone needs to keep putting time and energy into every investment to make them work. Therefore, resources that vendors can continue to provide to help us get better value from what we bought are mutually beneficial. If we’re currently realizing less than 100% of the investment’s potential value, helping us optimize the investment not only adds value, it can also lead to the next sales opportunity.