Aspiring to double in size comes with all sorts of challenges, including maintaining what made you successful in the first place.
Mike Cleary, president at 21-year-old Coridian Technologies, is in the thick of a mission to double the size of his company within five years, but he’s not taking the easy path. Cleary is intent on growing without entertaining revenue from new markets—and without adding new vendors to his line card. “There are lots of shiny things that could distract us, but we know we’re great in our markets, so that’s where we’ll focus,” he says. “We used to meet with any company about any new product, thinking that was necessary to keep up,” he says. “With the consolidation of vendors that’s taken place, we’re making sure to spend more time with our core partners, building the relationship, becoming very familiar with the products, and showing our loyalty.”
Get Your Culture, Processes In Writing
Cleary also knew that improved systems and processes were in order to keep all employees (even himself) focused and goal-oriented as the company grew. “We went through the process of creating a culture deck based off of the idea of what Netflix did for its organization,” he explains. “The document contains our core principles, how to act with one another, with customers, and with vendors. It’s what we believe in and tied to our goals and beliefs as an organization. Many of the pieces are things I thought were always implied, but never really stated verbally or in writing.”
With the culture deck in place, Cleary says the company looks to reinforce the principles in meetings and in daily interactions with coworkers. To raise awareness and keep a positive environment, Cleary says the company holds a lot of team-building lunches and minicelebrations. “In reality, it’s not just about the deck, but turning it into real action.”
Part of that action is making the deck part of the hiring process at Coridian. Whereas his old interview process was more relaxed, today there are various stages, including a team interview involving various departments of the organization. The tenets of the company’s culture are a big part of the conversation. “We used to find someone with skills and then try to make them fit,” says Cleary. “Now, we aren’t trying to get people to fit. We share our culture deck as part of the interview process and make sure they agree with what we want to do and how we do it.”
Alter Your Perspective
When asked what they do, most integrators will tell you that they sell technology. For years, Cleary says he did the same. As another part of his company’s change, Cleary sought to highlight the “why” of what they do and Coridian’s role within the world. “Sure, we sell AIDC technology to the healthcare vertical, but really, the solutions we put in place help save people’s lives,” he says. “We improve productivity, we save jobs, and we keep people alive. We really do make a difference that extends far beyond simply selling printers and labels.” Not only does this give current employees a renewed sense of purpose, it helps Coridian attract new employees who might care more about making a difference in the world than their paycheck.
Build A Sales Process, Adopt Efficiency-Enabling Tech
Cleary also put the entire team through the Action Selling training program. “We have a variety of successful salespeople with different experiences,” he explains. “However, we never had a common language about sales and our process of selling.” Coridian’s eight-person sales team went through a two-day class, 14 weeks of drills, role-playing, and other sales training, followed by an exam. “As we look to grow, getting everyone talking the same way about projects and sales is important,” he adds.
Finally, Cleary says the company invested in a unified communications platform to give it the ability to communicate internally and externally via voice, video, chat, WebEx, and screen sharing. With some external employees, it allows Coridian to operate closer as a team. Having good communications is great for the company today, but it might play an even larger role within the next few years.
As part of the desired growth Cleary is targeting, the idea of geographic expansion isn’t out of the question. Having processes, core operating principles, and a way to effectively communicate are all things that will help the integrator successfully open and/or acquire additional offices if/when the time is right.