Great CROs Put Stock in Their Solutions Consultants

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

Scott Bleczinski is a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), investor, and go-to-market maverick. He spent nearly eight years as Executive Vice President of Sales at ExactTarget, taking revenue from millions to hundreds of millions and setting the stage for their $2.5B acquisition by in 2013–a foundational investment for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Since then, he has served as CRO at several startups, including Boston-based Localytics–the first mobile analytics and engagement platform where I had the pleasure of starting my career as a Solutions Consultant. When I heard that Solutions Consulting and Engineering (SE) leaders need more buy-in from their CROs to protect their teams and get the resources they need, I wanted to get Scott’s perspective on the subject. He had some encouraging things to say.

Behind Every Major Deal that Closes is a Rockstar SE

When I asked Scott which teams in the revenue org (other than account executives) have the biggest impact on closing and expanding business, without hesitation he said, “definitely, the SE team.” To illustrate the point, he launched into the story of Ryan Warren, who worked in Solutions Consulting at ExactTarget and is now a solutions executive at Salesforce. Reflecting on the in-depth deal analysis Scott would do periodically, he recalled that “Ryan’s name was aligned with every big deal that closed, and it occurred to me that I didn’t need to hire more sales reps. I needed to hire more Ryans–people who were technical but also highly collaborative and great with customers”. Next on his list were account managers in terms of building the long-term trust required for significant expansion deals, and executive presence cannot be overlooked in the team sport of selling–whether it’s the CRO, CEO, or someone else, complex enterprise buyers need to see that strategic level of collaboration.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Prove SE Impact at Scale 

Despite Scott’s championing of Solutions teams, like many other CROs, he admits that they are also one of the most difficult to measure in terms of performance, efficiency, and return on investment because there tends to be a lack of standard metrics ( around what they do. Typically, reps are held to a quota–this is easy to track, but as the consultants working with customers, it can feel unnatural for an SE to own a quota. Having scaled GTM organizations, Scott pointed out that it can make sense to bring in an SE-owned quota in addition to other metrics that show impact on the business. 

In Scott’s world, the most critical SE impact can be uncovered by answering the question, “Why don’t deals close?”. If you can answer this with data, you can map your team’s work to the activities and deliverables that will have a material effect. And nine out of ten times, the answer to that question comes back to a lack of planning and preparation–two things that are hardcoded into a great SE alongside their technical strengths and empathy.

Exceptional Sales Performance Hinges on SE Partnership & Planning

From Scott’s perspective, the responsibilities of the Solutions Consultant fall into three core areas: 

#1 Foster a strong partnership with sales–who owns what, how to fill gaps, and plan your attack

#2 Apply technical sophistication–know the customer’s environment and how your solution fits 

#3 Be the “game changer”

This last point is the most critical and comes from the former two. Exceptional work in deals comes to life when the SE creates a solution–that is straightforward to implement–to solve the customer’s problem. When this is done well, it’s a result of the SE’s inputs, and in most cases, the SE is actually driving this process end-to-end, often picking up slack along the way.

All Roads Lead to Revenue (even if you take a longer route)

A good CRO sees the inherent value of a high-functioning Solutions Org, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to build a business case to unlock whatever resources and budget you may need for your team. In fact, given the depth of your abilities, it’s even more important to prove when you need something and exactly how much of it you need to drive results for the business.

For Scott, it all comes down to showing revenue impact–no surprise. A business case for budget, headcount, and resources needs to start with how you will help the CRO drive revenue. Double-clicking into that point, Scott would want to see how your request will also help post sales teams like account management drive renewals and expansion, given the longer tail impact of the SE team’s work. Finally, you must prove how fulfilling your request will “differentiate how we go to market in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.” You’ll need to demonstrate how it will help drive customer adoption, ease of implementation, and faster value realization.

While Scott insists that all roads in your business case must lead to revenue, in his experience, “It doesn’t always have to be a direct line. Aspects might be tangential. For example, they may make the SE team more efficient and effective. You don’t necessarily need to project a monthly revenue output, but you must prove how your proposal will affect the business’s health, scale, and growth.”
If you’re curious about where Vivun can help your SE team work smarter, be more data-driven, influence the product roadmap, and ultimately unlock more revenue, you can find quick demos here:

Aaron Sun Avatar photo February 28, 2023