It’s tough finding your footing in a new industry like solar installation. Randy Bishop constantly reorganizes Verengo Solar Plus to deliver value at a reasonable intersection of price and profit.
The president and CEO found the solution by breaking down silos to get sales support across the organization from 175 employees — 75 of whom joined the team since January 2010.
“It’s incredibly important to make sure that everyone is aligned and no one area is getting out of whack,” says Bishop, who achieved revenue of $15 million in 2009, then hit that mark again only halfway through 2010. “That’s how we’ve been able to grow.”
What’s the key to thriving in a recession?
Having the right business model helps an incredible amount when times are tough. The operational side of things becomes critical in a recession.
We’re very focused on … our sales engine. That is where the cost can get most out of whack most quickly. That’s not to say the back end isn’t as important. If the sales and marketing aren’t right, it’s impossible to make it up on the back end. So our entire organization has a very strong orientation to the sales and marketing function.
Execution is incredibly important in those areas. We’re not believers in spending for just branding or awareness purposes. All of our marketing spend is related to generating leads and quantifying that cost per lead and cost per sale. It requires a lot of collaboration between marketing and sales to make sure that what’s being (promised in marketing) is being delivered from the sales channel and that there’s consistency all along that process.
If there’s any disconnect, then the customers vote with their business and go somewhere else.
How do you get consistency across sales and marketing?
A huge part is making sure that incentives align the organization. Make sure that everyone is pulling for the common goals. It’s very easy to have those be out of whack, so we spend a lot of time making sure that everyone’s aligned in terms of what they’re trying to accomplish.
And then communication: Our head of sales and head of marketing sit next to each other, and they constantly speak to each other. We have very tight feedback loops between the two.
How do you align the rest of the organization to that?
No. 1, we have company values that ensure that that is front and center. We have all-hands meetings quarterly to make sure that we reinforce that message. And we ensure that we are recognizing and celebrating the right behavior and extinguishing or correcting the wrong behavior. We need people that think outside of silos, and when we see silo thinking, we make it very clear they need to find a different (job).
Part of it is hiring the right people [who] understand that if a sale doesn’t go through, then no one has a job.
How do you identify that collaborative spirit during interviews?
It’s just asking people how they’ve demonstrated behaviors in the past that align with what we’re looking for.
(Before we interview) a customer service manager, we’ll come up with a difficult customer service scenario where maybe a customer feels they were promised something by sales, we can’t deliver it … and it’s a time-sensitive issue. How would they proceed with it? You want insight into how they think.
A wrong answer would be to tell the customer that they’re wrong. A wrong answer would be to call up the salesperson and yell at them. A wrong answer might be to promise the customer we’ll do whatever it takes to get it right.
If you create silos and reward that type of thinking, then you poison the environment. You have to figure out: Do you have the right people in the right positions — and not just for their position, but are they working across the organization, as well?
How to reach: Verengo Solar Plus, (877) 403-3479 or www.verengosolar.com