The news that DFIN expects to transition its remaining “old ActiveDisclosure” clients to the new ActiveDisclosure platform in the first half of the year got me thinking about the remarkable journey that DFIN has been on, to the benefit of all our stakeholders.
“New” ActiveDisclosure, which grew 14% in 2022, is an SEC reporting solution built from the ground up to meet modern requirements of security and data privacy. DFIN’s creation of new AD is the story of our company’s transformation.
That story includes the reinvention of our sales function. What does a sales team do when they’re handed a winning product that transforms the company? Answering that question correctly is key to a successful product launch.
With so many businesses pursuing digital transformation today, I wanted to share a few lessons we’ve learned that can be applied by any sales organization grappling with fast-moving change.
Assess the skill sets of your sellers. We’ve all heard the expression that “a good salesperson can sell anything,” but employee skills must evolve with the company — and that is especially true of the sales force. The sellers are the face of the company and not only have to understand why a new product is the right solution for the client, they need to be equipped with a sales methodology that aligns with the product. In the case of DFIN, we needed to train our sales force on selling Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), so we can leverage our history as topline relationship builders while expanding to be a valued-based sales organization.
Be willing to fail fast. When a business introduces a product that requires a new sales methodology, you won’t get everything 100 percent correct right away. It’s important to measure and make adjustments as you go, applying your resources to maximize value. In the case of software sales, you’ve got to understand the client requirements and map them to your capabilities. Then, you can decide to either strongly pursue the opportunity or move to a higher probability opportunity and circle back to the previous one at a later date. Clients appreciate this level of discretion.
Get third-party assistance. An outside perspective can be extremely helpful when a company is undergoing a transformation. In particular, a third party can ensure that the entire sales organization is in synch. It can help you understand where skills align, and where others don't. For example, DFIN’s strong relationships at the C-Suite level have been integral to our success. Our recent third-party sales training emphasized that while the C-Suite relationships remain important, gaining trust and buy-in across a company — including both the economic and technical buyer — drive greater success and faster sales cycles while improving the client’s experience.
Company transformations are complex projects that depend on every part of the business working — and transforming — together. Applying these principles can prepare a sales organization to help lead the company into the future.