The Pursuit Desk
1: Enhancing the Sales System with Mike Scariano, VP of Sales
May 20, 2020
Mike Scariano is the VP of Sales at Neudesic, responsible for managing a $100M sales budget for all Neudesic Offices throughout the US. He brings over 17 years of experience in the Microsoft System Integrator Partner Channel. Prior to joining Neudesic in April 2008, Mike was a Geographic Vice President for Capgemini. Mike has a proven track record of success in exceeding sales goals, growing client relationships and expanding the skills of his sales team.

Jason: Is there any friction in your process, because you are using billable consultants in these sales-based activities?

Mike: There is a balancing act between meeting the customer’s needs and then meeting the targets that you want to hit as a company. We have a pursuit desk and a pursuit process that they follow. And at the end of the day a strategic opportunity, even if the sale starts small, can ultimately result in a long term client.

The process has gotten a lot more rigorous and mature in the last couple of years and everyone on the team understands their role within every pursuit. Most of our consultants are typically working on four to five different opportunities at a time.


Jason: Do you think that the number of pursuits, or their workload, is a lot, or do you think that they can scale that up?

Mike: I would love to see them scale up, they’re all super talented and capable, but they represent each one of Neudesic’s service lines. So what you need is to implement a more efficient system and process and leverage the right tools to accomplish that efficiency.


Jason: Where do you typically get your new business from?

Mike: There are multiple channels that we use to get net new clients. We have an inside sales team and a marketing team that does a lot of public-facing events. Our consultants and their professional networks are another good source for us. And then our alliances, like Microsoft, is one of our biggest lead generation sources.

Once you combine all of these channels into a pie, if there is an equitable distribution from all of the channels it makes the life of a seller a lot easier. You can leverage each of these channels differently, but our goal is always to leverage each of them equitably.


Jason: And do you cross-sell at all? And if so, what are your strategies?

Mike: Yeah, cross-selling comes in multiple facets for us. It’s references or referenceable stories within similar industries that can be super powerful. I think we collaborate really well internally, but sometimes offices in different regions can have a hard time accessing something that another office worked on. So that’s something that we’re focusing on now, the sharing of that knowledge, of those stories and of those successes. Sharing how we are leveraging Microsoft to better engage with our customers.

So, all of that collaboration is getting fine-tuned right now, and allowing us to build a more diverse customer base and portfolio. Not only within IT but with multiple business groups. Now it is becoming more and more prevalent that we are sharing these stories to get to that end result and using tools to help us accomplish that.


Jason: Tell me a little bit about how technology has made your sales process better?

Mike: I think in the past we struggled with always updating a consultant’s CV and keeping their bios up to date after each project they work on and each solution they generate for clients. We wanted to gather and consolidate all that info, but consultants weren’t always diligent about this and they weren’t always updating our old systems. So, we wanted to automate that.

And right now, with the crisis, we have certain consultants who are on the bench just due to their clients and their particular industry. We wanted a way to market these consultants and to be able to expose those skills to the rest of the company in real-time. So instead of having to constantly update a CV, we wanted their profile to be online and automatically updated.

With ikaun, we have been able to dramatically change how fast we can go to market, and how quickly we can adapt to certain economic changes. And consultants are getting more exposure to each other, so we are getting more peer-to-peer growth. This connectivity has been instrumental in our growth during this downtime.


Jason: What was the impetus behind allowing prospects to come in and review the consultant’s bios?

Mike: Neudesic established what we call a COVID Investment Program. We have a lot of great clients who have stood by us in the past, who are going through tough times right now. And we felt it was imperative that we reinvest back into them to keep them afloat. So, we wanted to make sure they knew who was available within their market, but also now that everyone is utilizing a remote workforce, also let them know consultants that are outside of their market that were now available to them.

Based on the automation within our pursuit desk, we were able to give them access to these bios and consultants who they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. It has opened up a lot of growth opportunities for us and creating synergies across markets.


Jason: Did the sellers play a role in that process?

Mike: The sellers within each of their markets have a good idea of their client’s environments. And in consulting travel is always an issue. Clients don’t want to pay for it and consultants want to be able to stay and home and have a work-life balance. But now with everything being remote, it allowed us to open up what consultants were available to clients and they don’t have to pay for travel expenses to utilize their skills.

And we have a sales operations team that really supports our field sales team and they often ask, “What do you need to make your jobs easier, better, more efficient, and help make you more successful?” And that helped make them more money and helps make our company successful.


Jason: You talked about sales operations, is that what you call that support team to the sellers?

Mike: Yes, we break up our sales operations team into multiple different facets. There’s a sales enablement piece to it, and they’re all about training and onboarding. And then there’s a whole systems element to our team where they focus on systems enhancement and embracing new platforms to make their jobs more efficient.

Then there is a reporting piece, and this is the most mature and we leverage all the power behind dashboards. Right now we are really hunkering down on sales enablement and working on our efficiency.


Jason: So, as it relates to the sales enablement, what are some of the biggest challenges that you have? What are some of the things that the sellers come to you with?

Mike: I would say the single commonality across every team is understanding all of our success across different verticals and domains and sharing in those successes. For one, we do an Anatomy of a Win once a week, and we do a Round Robin where each member of the sales teams shares what they solved for a client and how they solved it.

And that was twice a month, but they wanted something more real-time. We can look up our experience specific to industry and solution, and it’s all aggregated in our pursuit desk. The search capabilities are great they can find it within a couple of clicks.


Jason: Neudesic responds to RFPs right?

Mike: We do, yes, and up until a couple of years ago we were really selective with which RFPs we would respond to for a couple of reasons. One, is it a target client we want to go after, is it in our technology sweet spot. Does it align with some of our solutions frameworks, are we going to take out a competitor, do we have relationships at that client.


Jason: Is there any friction in the process because you are using billable consultants in these sales-based activities?

Mike: There is a balancing act between meeting the customer’s needs and then meeting the targets that you want to hit as a company. We have a pursuit desk and a pursuit process that they follow. And at the end of the day a strategic opportunity, even if the sale starts small, can ultimately result in a long term client.

The process has gotten a lot more rigorous and mature in the last couple of years and everyone on the team understands their role within every pursuit. Most of our consultants are typically working on four to five different opportunities at a time.


Jason: Do you think that the number of pursuits, or their workload, is a lot, or do you think that they can scale that up?

Mike: I would love to see them scale up, they’re all super talented and capable, but they represent each one of Neudesic’s service lines. So what you need is to implement a more efficient system and process and leverage the right tools to accomplish that efficiency.


Jason: Where do you typically get your new business from?

Mike: There are multiple channels that we use to get net new clients. We have an inside sales team and a marketing team that does a lot of public-facing events. Our consultants and their professional networks are another good source for us. And then our alliances, like Microsoft, is one of our biggest lead generation sources.

Once you combine all of these channels into a pie, if there is an equitable distribution from all of the channels it makes the life of a seller a lot easier. You can leverage each of these channels differently, but our goal is always to leverage each of them equitably.


Jason: And do you cross-sell at all? And if so, what are your strategies?

Mike: Yeah, cross-selling comes in multiple facets for us. It’s references or referenceable stories within similar industries that can be super powerful. I think we collaborate really well internally, but sometimes offices in different regions can have a hard time accessing something that another office worked on. So that’s something that we’re focusing on now, the sharing of that knowledge, of those stories and of those successes. Sharing how we are leveraging Microsoft to better engage with our customers.

So, all of that collaboration is getting fine-tuned right now, and allowing us to build a more diverse customer base and portfolio. Not only within IT but with multiple business groups. Now it is becoming more and more prevalent that we are sharing these stories to get to that end result and using tools to help us accomplish that.


Jason: Tell me a little bit about how technology has made your sales process better?

Mike: I think in the past we struggled with always updating a consultant’s CV and keeping their bios up to date after each project they work on and each solution they generate for clients. We wanted to gather and consolidate all that info, but consultants weren’t always diligent about this and they weren’t always updating our old systems. So, we wanted to automate that.

And right now, with the crisis, we have certain consultants who are on the bench just due to their clients and their particular industry. We wanted a way to market these consultants and to be able to expose those skills to the rest of the company in real-time. So instead of having to constantly update a CV, we wanted their profile to be online and automatically updated.

With ikaun, we have been able to dramatically change how fast we can go to market, and how quickly we can adapt to certain economic changes. And consultants are getting more exposure to each other, so we are getting more peer-to-peer growth. This connectivity has been instrumental in our growth during this downtime.


Jason: What was the impetus behind allowing prospects to come in and review the consultant’s bios?

Mike: Neudesic established what we call a COVID Investment Program. We have a lot of great clients who have stood by us in the past, who are going through tough times right now. And we felt it was imperative that we reinvest back into them to keep them afloat. So, we wanted to make sure they knew who was available within their market, but also now that everyone is utilizing a remote workforce, also let them know consultants that are outside of their market that were now available to them.

Based on the automation within our pursuit desk, we were able to give them access to these bios and consultants who they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. It has opened up a lot of growth opportunities for us and creating synergies across markets.

Jason: Did the sellers play a role in that process?

Mike: The sellers within each of their markets have a good idea of their client’s environments. And in consulting travel is always an issue. Clients don’t want to pay for it and consultants want to be able to stay and home and have a work-life balance. But now with everything being remote, it allowed us to open up what consultants were available to clients and they don’t have to pay for travel expenses to utilize their skills.

And we have a sales operations team that really supports our field sales team and they often ask, “What do you need to make your jobs easier, better, more efficient, and help make you more successful?” And that helped make them more money and helps make our company successful.


Jason: You talked about sales operations, is that what you call that support team to the sellers?

Mike: Yes, we break up our sales operations team into multiple different facets. There’s a sales enablement piece to it, and they’re all about training and onboarding. And then there’s a whole systems element to our team where they focus on systems enhancement and embracing new platforms to make their jobs more efficient.

Then there is a reporting piece, and this is the most mature and we leverage all the power behind dashboards. Right now we are really hunkering down on sales enablement and working on our efficiency.


Jason: So, as it relates to the sales enablement, what are some of the biggest challenges that you have? What are some of the things that the sellers come to you with?

Mike: I would say the single commonality across every team is understanding all of our success across different verticals and domains and sharing in those successes. For one, we do an Anatomy of a Win once a week, and we do a Round Robin where each member of the sales teams shares what they solved for a client and how they solved it.

And that was twice a month, but they wanted something more real-time. We can look up our experience specific to industry and solution, and it’s all aggregated in our pursuit desk. The search capabilities are great they can find it within a couple of clicks.


Jason: Neudesic responds to RFPs right?

Mike: We do, yes, and up until a couple of years ago we were really selective with which RFPs we would respond to for a couple of reasons. One, is it a target client we want to go after, is it in our technology sweet spot. Does it align with some of our solutions frameworks, are we going to take out a competitor, do we have relationships at that client.

And starting that proposal from scratch every time was very manually intensive so we would lean on the side of not doing RFPs responses because of all those factors. Now we have built templates and a library of all of our best RFPs responses and we have automated all of those responses. So now we have seen a huge increase in our response rate and our win rate. All of these processes are automated and this single change has made us more successful.