For many business owners, the answer may be “not enough”. IT is often overlooked, and this can be catastrophic, especially as the world goes more and more digital. Whether technology works efficiently can make or break a business, and the right team is required to run things the way they need to be run – and beyond. In today’s episode of CEO Sales Strategies, Doug C. Brown talks with Paul Deur, the co-founder and co-CEO of ReadyWorks. They discuss why IT is so critical to business in the digital age, how you can be a positive force for your IT team, maintaining strong security and infrastructure, and much more.
Paul Deur is a lifelong entrepreneur and the co-founder of ReadyWorks with over 20 years of experience in IT services, sales, delivery, enablement, and operations focused on large enterprise. Paul has a successful track record with global organizations such as Pfizer, Microsoft, Symantec, Unisys, American Express, Regeneron, and SMBC, amongst others. An engineer by training and customer service professional at heart, his unique perspective allows him to build practical IT solutions that work in the real world.
Visit his website: www.readyworks.com
I’m bringing you another exceptional guest. His name is Mr. Paul Deur, the Cofounder of ReadyWorks. ReadyWorks is a company that helps companies with their IT services, puts it all in a streamlined fashion, and makes things work the way they’re supposed to. In a digital world, companies must embrace the Cloud and all the digital aspects of marketing and sales and everything that’s going on. A lot of companies don’t do a great job at this because they’re trying to convert from an old system to a new system.
Traditionally, everything in IT gets dumped on them. What do you do about that? You’ve already got a thin staff with IT and got them overworked. Unfortunately, if you don’t do this in the right way, you lose your IT staff. When you lose your IT staff, you lose your productivity and a lot of things. We’re going to talk about redundancy, security, why it affects your sales, what you can do about it, and what you shouldn’t do about it as it relates to the business.
We’re also going to talk about how you sell to people in his position and why it’s so important to build that relationship in the capacity using the benefits of IT. Also, how to streamline and make your IT departments work harmoniously within all the other divisions and all the other departments within your company so that everything is running more efficiently, increasing your profitability and your revenues if it’s done right. Without further ado, let’s go talk to Paul.
Paul, welcome to the show. I appreciate you being here.
How are you doing, Doug? It’s nice to see you.
It’s always a pleasure to talk with you. You own a company called ReadyWorks. I used to say, “This is what the company does,” but over time, I learned it’s better to ask the owner of the company. What does ReadyWorks do?
ReadyWorks is a software company. It’s a SaaS platform. What we do is help companies do digital transformations. It’s a buzzword. It means a lot of different things to different people, but big companies are constantly going through technology changes. They’re adopting new things and deploying new stuff. People in the wake of COVID have gotten an entirely new working model. From an IT and an infrastructure perspective, we help companies go through that transformation process faster, quicker, and with less risk and costs.
You and I originally talked. I was in the telecommunications business, so IT was near and dear to my heart. I always felt bad for the IT department because I was the guy going in there selling services and then everything gets dumped onto the IT department. I sold all the internal stuff from mobile phones to you name it. Companies always want to make a change, but it always seems like the IT department is drowning. What I wanted to drive into is how do you make this transition in the ever-changing digital transformation? How do you minimize the risk and do this right? How do you navigate through it?
You touched on it. It’s a rising tide. As a result of that, the IT departments are often drowning. There’s more of everything. There are more people, devices, and complexity. Things are in the Cloud. Things are on-prem. There are IoT devices, your desktop, laptop, phone, and more. As you said, the IT teams are often drowning. They’re caught by the tsunami of activity and demand that’s coming from the business. It’s a real challenge.
What businesses are straddling is, “We’ve been running a business and doing things this way for a long time. Now, we’ve got this massive desire and appetite to embrace all of this new stuff. We want to deploy the best of the breed, give everyone, our staff, people, and customers new stuff, experiences, and capabilities.” Everyone wants to flip a switch and have that instant gratification. That’s where IT sits at that intersection.
You’ve got all this legacy stuff, and you’re trying to change the wheels on the bus while you’re driving 100 miles an hour. As a result of that, IT is sitting at that crossroads and struggling. That’s where we’re coming to the table as a capability, tooling, and platform to help those teams bridge the gap. We give the business what they want and manage the infrastructure in such a way that it’s secure. You’re doing that with discipline and rigor so that you’re not exposing yourself to pitfalls and challenges along the way.
In your company, how does your solution help regarding this? I never ask that particular question because I don’t want this to be promotional but what you do with your company is such a critical component of reducing turnover within companies as well. When we burn out these IT people, they leave. How do you do it?
It’s interesting what caused the COVID phenomenon, the Great Resignation, or whatever you want to call it. People are spent. They’re at capacity. There’s a tsunami of demand and a tremendous appetite for new stuff. The existing teams are finite. They’ve only got so much capacity and so much that they can do. The tools they’ve had to be able to consume these changes haven’t evolved in the last couple of years, so the demand keeps piling on. As a result of that, people are fatigued and overburdened, and they can’t manage the requests.
What we’ve been able to do is enable and give those people the control and the capacity that they need to do what’s expected. The business wants to deploy new stuff. Everyone is working from home. That has completely changed how we work, function, sell, and engage with our customers and our staff. That means the IT teams needed to sit at making that reality overnight. Without the tools and the resources to make that happen, they’ve been hamstrung.
That’s why we’re the enabler for those teams to do what’s asked and give them that capacity and relief they need to manage this ever-growing complex scenario that’s layering on with more demand. It has a lot to do with retention and giving people the resources they need to do to do their function.
You hit something that’s near and dear to my heart, which is selling. A lot of times, people within companies look at IT and go, “They’re just IT. They make our stuff work.” I’ve explained to many businesses over the years that IT is as important as any other functional department or division within a company and it directly affects the sales department. I’m looking for some back up here because I’ve had some people say, “It doesn’t.” I’m like, “If IT can’t deliver, your salespeople can’t communicate.” Have you found that IT is under-appreciated by most departments and divisions, including the sales division?
Historically, it was considered as, “We have these things, then we’re going to throw it over the wall and someone is going to get it done.” Largely, it was downstream operational stuff. What was happening was every decision a business makes has an IT component and ramification or something that we’ve got to weigh in on. Without bringing them to have a seat at the table, decisions are made in a vacuum, and you don’t understand what the left hand and the right hand are doing.
For instance, we have a couple of clients that are in the midst of these massive transformations. The business wants to be able to do all these great things. They set goals and targets for revenue and expansion, and so forth. There is an absence of perspective and involvement from the practical, like, “This is where we are.” There are steps and things that you’ve got to do to reach there. It’s not a flip of the switch. There’s a process and things that you got to do without breaking or disrupting the business.
IT is elevating its role in the conversation. They are a strategic partner in the discussion. The resources that you could bring to bear or not directly impact everyone in the org. It includes sales, for sure, but also universally. If you don’t have the tools, resources, and collaboration, everything is so dynamic and agile that you need to have that seat at the table.
Otherwise, you’re going to miss opportunities. You’re not going to have the best-of-breed solutions and certainly not going to be competitive in this market and in this landscape. It’s an evolution in my career and my trajectory watching IT elevate from more operational and order takers of what’s being directed. If you want to do these things, you have to be forward-thinking and strategic in what you’re doing as opposed to reactionary and somewhat shooting from the hip.
I want to step back for one moment because it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. I want to get your definition of what IT is so people get that perspective of what we’re talking about.
From our perspective, we think of IT as the infrastructure and the plumbing that allows a company to operate. Universally, whatever your vertical is, whether you’re in financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, or so on and so forth, everyone is coming to IT to consume some services in the form of applications or some devices. You’re trying to run what you do on a day-to-day basis with IT as the enabler or the backbone by which you do that.
When we think about transformation and what companies are trying to do, go back to COVID and everyone working remotely. A few years ago, everyone was in an office, plugged into a network and an infrastructure that allowed people to do things. Overnight, everyone was distributed and off-prem or looking to do the same level of activities, services, and give customers their same level of experience without having to be there. That was a massive transformation brought on by the necessity of what COVID presented, but it’s that intersection of how a company operates.
What is the plumbing that allows people to have these applications, services, and technology at their fingertips to be able to do what they do? When we think about our role as ReadyWorks, we try to sit there as an enabler to those IT teams to give their customers and businesses the things that they’re asking for and need to be best in class and most competitive within their market. That journey is not very simple. The bigger the organization, the more complex it is. That’s very difficult.
If you think about an organization that’s 100 years old that’s been running claims, processes, medical services, or practices this way for the last couple of years, overnight, you’re looking to transform how they operate, function, bill, sell, and engage. It’s very transformative in the customer experience and how they operate internally.
It makes a lot of sense. You gave a great example. Overnight, the whole landscape changed. It’s changed not only for operations, human resources, and those departments but for sales too. Since people have now gone off-prem and they’re working from home, one of the number one things that people say to me is, “How do you get to these people any longer? I used to be able to go to an office and try to present myself, or I call into a central PBX, a phone system, and I’d get the gatekeeper.” The gatekeeper doesn’t always answer the phone anymore.
Even JetBlue. If you call JetBlue, you might hear a barking dog or a baby in the background of the person helping you with a reservation. Sales have changed overnight. People say, “We’re going to go back to the office.” In running a business, do you think that’s ever going to go back to what it was or it has changed and that’s the way it’s going to be?
We’ve opened up Pandora’s Box. This is the new normal. The pendulum will swing to a certain extent, but this is part of the ecosystem and experience. Specifically, from a sales perspective, how you engage with someone, how you try to get on their radar, and how you try to get their attention has fundamentally changed.
You mentioned that years ago, you would be able to set up a time. You’d meet with your client and be on site. You’d have this casual conversation. You’d have this ability to understand who they are, what their needs are, build a rapport, and do those things that naturally come with the sales motions. Now, it’s segmented into a 45-minute Zoom call that’s very structured. You can’t see who is on the other side sometimes. You can’t read the presentation or how people are responding to your experience. The follow-up and the engagement thereafter, which is so naturally human, has been moved into this digital realm of curt and transactional experiences, which are challenging. You got to get creative around the tools that you’re using, follow-ups that you deploy, resources that you share, and collateral available to you.
The ways in which the customer wants to engage with us have completely transitioned. Most folks don’t want to have sales be the first experience that they encounter. They want to do their own due diligence. They want to read, explore, and have an experience digitally either through a trial version or a download, or look at your reviews in some other social validation like G2, Yelp, or something in that regard. They want to do their homework about you before they ever engage with you. That’s transforming this whole sales experience. It’s notably different from where it was a couple of years ago.
Let’s say we’re a manufacturer’s rep organization. You and I start a business. I go to you and I go, “What do I do? What would be the first thing that I do? I want to set up my IT appropriately.” Is there a logical sequence of steps? I’m asking because I don’t know. If I’m a company reading this conversation going, “I can tell you from the sales perspective that people doing these types of things are over a digital medium. They have zero redundancy built into their network.” I’m like, “You guys are doing digital presentations all day long. What happens if your bandwidth goes down?”
Let’s go even further. Somebody down the street knocks the pole out that’s holding onto your cable. He says, “They can’t control that. If they take out that, the transformer blows up and burns all the wiring, or whatever it might be.” If I’m an established company, what should I be thinking about 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in that capacity?
What applies to sales from an IT perspective applies universally to any organization, which is you got to have a solid foundation, flexibility, and scalability. In that way, when things happen and disruption comes, you’ve got options. There is no silver bullet or panacea for the perfect scenario. What you’re trying to figure out is what works for you, what works 99% of the time, and then have options in the event that something changes.
Think about the landscape in the supply chain. You can’t get stuff, equipment, or resources, so what do you do? Those are things that you’ll never have full control over regardless of how well you plan, but there are fundamental best practices that address the basic needs and then give you options. Leaning into the Cloud and managing that resiliency from the Cloud is largely the posture that every organization is adopting, either small, mid-market, or large enterprise. Trying to take what you do and make it as Cloud-friendly as possible is the best practice. That gives you the most flexibility in a number of ways in terms of the redundancy you described or even in the context of accessibility.
With labor shortages, the Great Resignation, and resources being distributed everywhere, the Cloud gives you many benefits that mitigate some of those concerns. That’s why many of our enterprise clients are trying to take much of their on-prem legacy infrastructure and migrate and move to the Cloud so that they can realize the promise and the benefit of what that’s supposed to give them. That’s flexibility, scalability, and some of those redundancies. Outside of that, it’s best practices in running a good business, making sure that you have redundancy both in people and processes and you have good tooling.
With the way that Cloud offerings have expanded, there are fantastic tools that allow you to do what you need to do as the best in the breed. There are specific solutions that have HR functions, sales functions, and finance functions. You can stitch together an ecosystem of stuff that gives you the best things in the market as opposed to you building those things in-house and homegrown and trying to brute force your path forward. Learn the lessons from the collective millions of people that are doing these things on a day-to-day basis because that’s what they do well and bring those as advantages to what you do in your specific operation. I would say those are the fundamentals.
I appreciate that because to me, redundancy is not even a question, especially if you’re selling. I have a couple of quick stories. I had a team that was working for me and they all signed off. They would have a redundant circuit in their home. For a client, they were doing particular presentations and they were closing for them. The commissions weren’t bad.
Long story short, one of the guys told me, “I got it.” All of a sudden, I got a text message off his phone that said, “I have no service.” I call him and I’m like, “What’s up?” He’s like, “My service went down.” I’m like, “You got a presentation in fifteen minutes.” He’s like, “I know.” I’m like, “Tether it to your phone.” He’s like, I don’t have that type of phone.” I’m like, “Where’s your backup circuit?” He goes, “I don’t have one.” Here I was running the whole division and the department, so I was like, “I’m going to do this.” I get on there and I sell. The commission out of that sale was $15,000 paid to me, which would have been paid to him. He loses $15,000 because he couldn’t put, at that point, in his house a $35 backup DSL circuit.
You only need to learn that lesson once and never do it again.
You would think. A month later, he still didn’t have the redundancy built back into his organization, so I fired him. I’m like, “That’s it. You’re not going to leave the client hanging. You can’t put a $400 cost into your location but you’re making $200,000 a year.” That’s on a small level. I then had a client that did a larger client. They brought people in and they had a large facility. They would put a theater-type thing so they had 400 people at this live event. Their data went down for whatever reason.
As much as we’ve grown to expect things to be redundant, resilient, and always at our fingertips, that’s how we’ve been nurtured at this functioning. Things happen and go down. There’s a storm or a hurricane. It’s always downstream like, “We’ll worry about that when it comes up,” but once it happens, you realize that the impacts are real. In the same breath, that’s why moving off of these legacy types of platforms, moving things to the Cloud, and having that redundancy and resiliency is so important.
If you think about a large enterprise of Fortune 100 or 200 organizations, there are zero margins for that hiccup. You can’t afford to run your business with that, “We’ll see what happens.” That’s not an option. You then have regulation, whether you’re a bank or hospital, and you have certain controls that you need to apply to your information and critical services. That is no longer an option. It’s mission-critical.
With sales, we have maybe a little more latitude, but it certainly is still the same set of requirements. If you’re expecting to bring those offerings to your customers and you’re looking to present and sell to them, they’re going to expect the same of you. You don’t want to be the Cobbler’s kids with no shoes. You got to raise the bar and demonstrate you drink your own champagne. This is what you’re about. You’re like, “We’re bringing you confidence and the best in the breed. We’re demonstrating for you a path forward. That’s what we’re here to sell.” If you can’t demonstrate that and represent those yourselves, how is the customer supposed to have that confidence in you in terms of your core offering?
It translates down to all facets of IT. Let’s take security, for example. You mentioned banks or a hospital. Banks have salespeople. They’re outselling people to buy loans, buy this or that, but what happens if it goes public that your sales team was discovered to have pornography all over their particular laptop or tablet? What’s going to happen to the reputation of the business?
Those things are not an option. You can’t afford to have that be on your watch. People will get fired as a result of that. The collateral damage that comes as a result of that is not an option. That’s why you have those controls, reviews, and audits to maintain that level of discipline. When you think about these big enterprises that are going through change, that’s what they’re going through constantly. There’s an evolution from every vendor, manufacturer, and piece of software or infrastructure.
Everyone is upgrading their stuff at a regular cadence. You need to be able to consume and adopt that in a healthy posture. If all these releases and updates are available but you are ten revisions behind, you’re no better than if you were using some old stuff. It’s like, “They’re here, but we never opened up and explored what those patches or updates were.” You’ve got to do that as a wellness program with your own health.
If you’re eating fast food every day and wondering why you never get on the treadmill and you’re a bunch of pounds overweight, it’s not an option. It’s the same thing with your infrastructure and IT. There’s health, maintenance, and cadence of things that need to be done. It’s becoming more and more complicated and technically involved. You’ve got to adopt a posture that allows you to do that both for your sales organization and the rest of the org. That’s our new normal and modern landscape.
I agree. We’re speaking with Mr. Paul Deur from a company called ReadyWorks. Check them out. How do people get ahold of you or the company if they want to?
The name of the organization is ReadyWorks. The URL is ReadyWorks.com. All the appropriate socials are about the same handle. Anywhere you would probably look for us or Google us, you could easily find us.
Paul, I always like to ask this question at the end for two reasons. One, I love talking about content and the core of the business with people so people can learn. IT is not a maybe anymore. It is critical as any division or department in a company. Two, I like to hold this to the end because it makes people read until the end because they always know this conversation is coming.
A lot of the people who tune in are looking to sell to CEOs. They’re looking to sell to the founders and cofounders of companies, but quite frankly, they’re not sure even though they’ve probably been told 30 times on this show alone, “This is how you do it.” I still get messages, and I’m not shaming anybody. I’m saying that sometimes, we get to read things more than one time from different people that get the message. If people want to get to somebody at your level within your type of industry or company, how should they look at trying to build a relationship or get in the door with a person who’s in your type of position?
With the advent of the modern ecosystem, the amount of information or Intel that you can garner about a company or a prospect of an organization is pretty significant. Everyone is completely overwhelmed with sensory overload. It’s hard to break through some of that noise. With that being said, targeted messaging that speaks and understands someone’s pain, the things that they need that are top of mind and mission-critical to them, will always have a way to resonate and then percolate.
Despite how many shows are out there, why do people still come to yours? It is because there’s an authentic voice. There’s something that’s real and tangible that will speak to people that are looking for this type of content. Sales motions are no different. If you’re looking to speak with people that have these challenges, needs, and areas of interest, it’s the basic one-on-one stuff, but it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of investment of time and resources to be able to uncover that.
If you’re trying to blanket and buckshot out to everyone with massive messaging and mass campaigns, that’s going to have a very limited hit rate. As all of the data and the statistics will show you over time, it’s 0.1%. If you are thoughtful and intelligent about the outreach, the message, communication, and value prop, and it’s authentic, I feel that that always has a way to resonate and bubble up to the top.
That is well said. Communicate in a meaningful and relevant manner to the person and present value that means something to the receiver, not just to the seller. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Paul, I appreciate you being here, sharing your expertise, and pouring your heart out into this thing. I know that’s the type of guy you are. I’d love to have you back on another episode of the show. Is there anything that you were hoping like, “I hope Doug asked this question,” or did I do a pretty standup job on this?
It’s always a pleasure chatting with you and I love the free flow in the discussion. It goes in a number of different ways. We covered a bit. My hope is that what we’ve shared means something to folks, and hopefully, folks find value in it. I’m happy to contribute and share wherever I can.
To those of you who are reading and are like, “I got to get an IT consideration plan,” and you have your company, reach out to ReadyWorks. It’s very easy to find. Talk to Paul and the staff. They’ll help you along the way. Paul, thanks again for being here.
It is my pleasure.
Many of you may not have thought at the beginning of this show that IT is important, but now, you’ve probably realized it’s inevitable and you must keep it running the way it’s supposed to run. Maybe you didn’t know before that your IT department was overstressed, overrun, and overreached. Here’s the thing. If you lose great quality people in IT, it’s not that you lost another person. It takes time to train people and get them into the environment and understand how your IT is supposed to run.
The reality is IT supports every department and division within your company. IT people generally have felt in the past that they’re not that valued. Who wants to feel that way? If you’re selling, be nice to your IT people because they’re the ones that keep you running, keep your data up, and keep your data running. They’re the ones who create or help create your reports many times, help you with mobility, and who can help you be far more productive. Your IT department is extremely important in your life.
I highly recommend you check out his company. He is a super nice guy. I’ve had numerous conversations with him. He is very smart and understands not only IT but how to run companies, how to build sales teams, and those types of things as well. If you have a topic of interest that you want us to cover, reach out to me at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. Send the information and say, “I’m looking for a topic on this.” We will find experts. We have access to a lot of experts. These people are not only real people, but they’re real business owners who have all this experience and are willing to share it with you. Don’t be shy. Reach out and let us know. Some of you have already done that. I appreciate that.
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If you want to build your business, grow your revenue, or want to hire, manage, retain, and utilize high-performance A-sales players or elite performers, we can help you there as well as get yourself or your team into the top 1% of your sales globally. Reach out to me at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. If you want to hit me up on LinkedIn as some of you do, it is @DougBrown123. If you want to call us directly, it is (603) 595-0303. Go out and sell things. Sell them profitably and sell a lot of them. Make someone happy. Help their world. Until next time. Here is to your success.