This article continues our series where we interview sales leaders and discuss their lessons-learned, successes, failures, and also challenges. And, hot they got to where they are. Previously, we met with Brent Bingham, a former executive of a very large pest control company and also Bernie Brenner, the founder of TrueCar and a salesperson at heart.
In this episode where we highlight sales leaders, we caught up with Patrick Allard, vice president of business development at Newgistics, who was willing to explain the value creation process that Newgistics developed to replace the traditional sales process and how it has led to massive growth for the company and its clients.
Specifically, we will learn how this business development pro has helped his company, Newgistics, take advantage of massive ecommerce market growth through a proprietary sales process
Marcia Layton Turner: How did you get your start in sales?
Patrick Allard: Well, I worked out of college worked for a company called YRC Worldwide, which is an international global logistics supply chain company headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. I started out in a sales operations role. Over the course of my first two years or so out of the 10 years that I worked with YRC Worldwide, I really got engaged in field sales and fell in love with sales in general. I very quickly got the opportunity to manage a team and grow into a larger leadership position under the business development and operations structure. But after ten years of working with YRC Worldwide, I was ready to make a change. So I moved the family to Austin, Texas to join the Newgistics team, where I've been now for the last eight years. I’m currently the vice president of business development.
Marcia Layton Turner: Did you know you ultimately wanted to end up in Austin?
Patrick Allard: Actually I started with YRC Worldwide in Austin in 1998 and really liked it. I had only recently come across Newgistics when they were first starting the company. So years later, as I saw YRC start to take a downturn, I was looking for the next best opportunity and knew I wanted to get my family to Austin so I took the opportunity to join logistics Newgistics and accomplished both objectives.
Marcia Layton Turner: Could you explain to me in layman's terms what Newgistics provides?
Patrick Allard: Sure, it's an end-to-end ecommerce solution. We're focused on partnering with top retailers and emerging ecommerce brands and offering them a suite of services - everything from fulfillment to parcel delivery to parcel returns, and digital consulting, including re-platforming, building and hosting websites. Really anything that touches that an ecommerce company or multi-channel retailer; we've got services that would complement their business. And whether you're Nordstrom, or Neiman Marcus, or GAP, or you're a startup ecommerce company, we can partner with you and bring value to that relationship.
Marcia Layton Turner: How big is your sales team?
Patrick Allard: Newgistics has a sales and business development team of 14.
Marcia Layton Turner: I saw that Chico's is one of your clients. What do you do for Chico's?
Patrick Allard: We do a lot of different things under that suite of ecommerce solutions for Chico's. Newgistics was founded to provide customers with the ability to both shop from home and make a return from home. Fourteen years ago there wasn't a convenient way to return an item if you shopped on an ecommerce site. So, Chico's, as one example, is using our Smart Label return solution to address that.
So, say you order a blouse from Chico's. When that package shows up at your door you're going to see an order summary document or pack slip with it. You’ll also see a prepaid postal return label called a smart label. If you decide you want to return that blouse, you just peel off the label, put it on the package, and give to your letter carrier to send back to Chico's. Newgistics uses our parcel network to have that parcel picked up from the post office and moved all the way back to Chico's.
Newgistics’ smart label does a couple of different things for Chico's. One, it lets them know about your return so they know what inventory is possibly coming back. Two, it also lets them proactively notify you so you don't call them and drive up their cost to handle you as a customer. They can generate a message to you that says something like: "Hey, sorry that blouse didn't fit. Please allow for X amount of days until you get your credit." It is a lot cheaper to send the proactive notification than it would be for you to spend five minutes on the phone with one of their customer service agents. More importantly, it gives the customer a better, more convenient solution, and drives confidence in the brand. Chico’s recognizes that when you shop online and you have an easy, convenient way to make a return, you are less likely to shop somewhere else.
Marcia Layton Turner: Tell me about your sales process. It sounds like it's a high-end, high-value B2B solution that you're providing. How do you sell that?
Patrick Allard: We spend a significant amount of time with what we call the value creation process. It's something that's unique, I think, to Newgistics because we built the process to support our business. We don't have a traditional sales process because one of the things that we felt early on was that we needed to get the entire organization to buy into the process. So by calling it a “sales process” automatically it may have some stigma attached to it. Some of the operations and finance people may hear that and believe they don’t have a role to play.
So we changed the name. Now we use what's called the “value creation” process, which is still really a sales process. However, calling it the value creation process has changed the dynamic here internally and the cross-functional teams now totally support it. Cross departmentally, we realize how much their role plays into the success of new business acquisition, retention, and, ultimately, referrals.
Marcia Layton Turner: How do you pull sales and marketing together to identify prospects?
Patrick Allard: Sure. So the first stage is research, which is really a combination of the sales executive and the marketing team working together to find those qualified leads and take them through a qualification process based on set criteria. Once a lead is qualified we move into research. Once research is completed, we move that prospect into what we call the pack stage. That's where the sales executive schedules a meeting with the key stakeholders at, say, Decker’s Outdoors. They bring a solution engineer, so it's the sales executive and the solution engineer and maybe a retail specialist - subject matter expert - to go to that executive-level meeting. They take the executive through the value premise at that stage, which is the combination of potential revenue generation, savings acquisition, and service improvements. This is based on what we've done at other retail partners and our understanding what Decker’s Outdoors current state is.
The discussion revolves around what the future state could look like with Newgistics. There is a dollar value assigned to that to pique the interest of that key executive to get them to commit to that meeting. Then out of that initial enrollment or pack meeting we move into more detailed discovery. So the real objective of that pack meeting is to get the key executive to say, "Yes, we will do business if you can accomplish that level of value."
Then we move into discovery, which is when we go inside and do the deep dive into what their current state looks like and to validate the premise to formulate a more hard value proposition. This is when we confirm or validate the inputs that went into the value premise are, in fact, accurate. Then we move into that last “close stage” of the process. That’s where we demo what the future state will look like. From there it moves pretty quickly through contract and then implementation.
Marcia Layton Turner: Are you serving a national target market or global?
Patrick Allard: Global, but it depends on the solution and the service. Since we are a global company, the digital consultancy has offices in London, Moldova, and Guadalajara. We've also got a presence in other countries, but the core parcel and fulfillment operations are in North America. We also have an international parcel offering. But the digital consulting business is the one that truly has assets and people and offices overseas.
Marcia Layton Turner: What would you say is your number one challenge as a sales leader?
Patrick Allard: The number one challenge is hiring people. You might not think that would be a challenge, but it is, and at Newgistics we have a pretty complex value creation process. Not everybody can sell value – it’s so much easier just to sell price. It's hard to find people who have the discipline and the supply chain logistic technology expertise. And because we're very focus on retail e-commerce, finding individuals with retail technology skill sets is difficult. So we tend to look for individuals who have been in consulting or technology, versus logistics. Instead, we look more towards consultancy and people who may have stronger engineering backgrounds than they do logistics backgrounds. But that is a challenge.
Marcia Layton Turner: What do you think are the top three things that it takes to be successful in sales at Newgistics?
Patrick Allard: The top three things I would say would be: 1) having a high degree of confidence in your product and in yourself, so you can communicate effectively and efficiently in the c-suite; 2) Being able to navigate a complex value process or sales process and being able to read people and understand who the right subject matter expert is to bring in at the right time - really leverage all the cross-functional support people at Newgistics to align with the team that you are selling to on the retail side; and 3) an ability to think big picture and really understand where retailers are headed long-term and find ways to build value. Somebody who can communicate and articulate what our vision and strategy and our idea looks like so that way they know that were viable for the long term.
Marcia Layton Turner: Since you have this value creation process that is different from a typical sales process, what does that mean to your sales team in terms of how they approach selling? Is it different from other companies?
Patrick Allard: I think it is different, based on my own experience with the few companies that I've been with, but I do think it's different in the sense that you have to engage non-sales cross-functional support people much earlier in our process. I think that helps close the circle and ultimately leads to a longer lifetime value of a customer. Because there are more people who have skin in the game, whether it’s operations, or implementation technology, or executive sponsors. It's a tightly-wired value process that I think ultimately drives more support to the sales executive while still providing long-term value to the customer, who knows that what we implement is not going to break and will be generating revenue, which is how the sales executives are paid. In addition, you have a customer that's going to be in a position to refer new business and help you bring additional value or start the circle all over again.
Marcia Layton Turner: How long does it take for a sales rep to become successful at Newgistics?
Patrick Allard: I think it takes a good three months to become proficient in the value sales process. After 90 days, they should be in a good position to win and because it is so team sales oriented and there is so much demand for what we do, after that things should fall into place. They should deem themselves successful because there will be a solid pipeline of opportunities moving through this value creation process, to close to revenue recognition in another 60 to 30 days.
Marcia Layton Turner: What is the sales cycle?
Patrick Allard: It really depends. Because we offer a variety of services, some of them involve longer sales processes. Since we deal with startups all the way to huge mega brands, it's really all over the place. I would tell you that 60 days is the average but some deals take over a year to close.
Marcia Layton Turner: If you could shadow your sales reps on a specific task or activity, what would you want to know more about?
Patrick Allard: I would probably say the research pack, just to get inside their head, because I firmly believe that is one of the most important steps as you're preparing to reach out to that top executive. Especially if you don't have a warm intro or a friendship to leverage, or a colleague, or any real “in” into a large opportunity. You've got a small window of opportunity there to do it right, so I’d want to understand how they’re approaching those target execs.
Marcia Layton Turner: Is the value proposition similar for similar types of retail clients? It sounds like it’s not.
Patrick Allard: There are different vale propositions with each retailer. We look at the current competition, the incumbent [carrier] they're using, where they're distributing from, and then what they are trying to accomplish. Are they trying to get faster? Are they trying to improve visibility? A lot of these retailers have similar goals. They want to be faster and they want to lower their cost. So, we really do attack it from the same three bullet points regardless of the retailers. We're always trying to improve the customer experience. We're always trying to lower cost. We're always trying to help our retailers drive sales or generate revenue. We feel like we can impact all of them, even though the solution may look very different based on requirements and capabilities client to client.
Marcia Layton Turner: What haven't I asked that you think is critical for sales success? Anything that we haven't talk about?
Patrick Allard: I really believe that in order for a sales executive or salesperson to be successful, they really only need a few things. One of those things is demand for their product. The second thing is whether the business you're going into is sustainable long-term; meaning, you're getting into a marketplace that's emerging. Certainly e-commerce is one of the highest growth right now. Then thirdly, do you have an uncapped compensation structure? Do you have an opportunity to really make as much money as you want to make? Those are probably the three most important things you want to look for when you're cutting your teeth and joining an organization for, hopefully, a long successful career.
The truly successful sales execs do a few things really well, consistently. To achieve greatness with a value-based sales role, you have to embrace the process to ultimately reap the rewards. You can’t take short cuts or jump to conclusions. The actual process you’re going to use to implement the solution shouldn’t change. The people who are really successful find joy in following that process consistently. Embrace the day to day process and you will enjoy success in the end!
About Patrick Allard
Patrick Allard is vice president of sales and business development at Newgistics, where his team cultivates new business opportunities that leverage Newgistics’ complete end-to-end e-commerce solution that provides retailers with systems designed for growth.
Our full suite of services includes: Web design, implementation, integration, hosting and support as well as order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns management. From customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery—and, when necessary, returns.
Patrick previously served as director of business development at Newgistics since 2007 and was primarily responsible for executing sales process strategies to the company’s enterprise clients. Patrick and his team excels at building value-based business opportunities while matching client needs with Newgistics’ portfolio of services. Prior to Newgistics, Patrick spent nearly 10 years at YRC Worldwide, Inc., where as director of business development, he led a team of more than 20 sales executives and service center managers.