Last week, Brian Zimmerman and I spent time at Balihoo, one of OpenView Venture Partners‘ portfolio companies in Boise, Idaho to talk with their management teams about sales campaign strategies and expanding their sales team. Balihoo is the premier provider of local automation software and services to franchise and national brands with local marketing needs.
With major customers like Quiznos and Kohler, Balihoo has made quite a name in the local marketing technology space. That, however, doesn’t stop CEO Pete Gombert from participating in sales demos and working one-on-one with the company’s lead generation services team. Pete loves to sell and giving demos helps him stay abreast of the questions prospects are asking, and what they are looking for when it comes to local marketing solutions.
This, I thought, was INCREDIBLY cool. Despite the success Balihoo has experienced, Pete hasn’t let it go to his head as the firm’s leader. Last week, I witnessed him sitting in the sales pit (in his Patagonia puffy jacket) engaging with prospects on numerous product demos. The prospects loved it. If you are a potential customer and you are connected with the CEO of the software company to whose services you are considering subscribing — you will probably feel pretty darn special that you got the attention of the guy who founded the company. It sure sends the message that Balihoo is excited about the prospect’s business, and that the CEO is committed to making the engagement successful. This dynamic is hard to find today.
A note to management teams, particularly CEOs at expansion stage companies — step out of your corner office. Get on the floor, connect with your employees and pick up the phone every now and then. It’s similar to the TV show undercover boss… except it’s not so undercover. Not only will you gain respect from your staff, but you will also catch the attention of your prospects, and satisfy/comfort your current customers with your sincere concern for their business.