How Jennifer Mauldin’s Team of Curious Learners is Evolving as Fast as the Industry They Serve
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Jennifer Mauldin is the President and Chief Client Officer at Inmar Intelligence – a data and tech-enabled services company that runs $120 billion dollars of commerce through its market-driven platforms to propel digital transformation through unified data, workflows, and fund flows. Its clients include leading Fortune 5000 companies, emerging brands, and health systems (retailers, pharmacies, hospitals, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers) drive innovation and meet the challenges of digital transformation.
Jennifer is responsible for all revenue growth for the company. Over the past 25 years she has been an instrumental force in Inmar’s transformation to a fast-growing software and technology services business.
Over her tenure, Inmar Intelligence has achieved an impressive track record for growth. The company tripled top line revenues in the past decade in a fast-changing market through constant innovation and formed strategic alliances that help clients use data and technology to maximize both operational efficiency and engage with today’s consumers in the omnichannel, personalized way they expect. To sustain this level of growth, Inmar has invested over $1 Billion in digital transformation. This investment not only leads digital transformation for their clients, it has also digitally transformed their go-to-market processes – including Sales. Jennifer shared her experience leading digital transformation within her company’s Sales organization.
Aligning for Growth
“When we think of growth, we don’t think of growth at all costs. Rather we deliver value to our clients by addressing their most pressing pain points, bringing a seamless, holistic approach and innovation that enable them to improve the lives of their consumers and at the same time operate their businesses smarter. For our businesses we seek prudent and sustainable growth. We look at how technology will enable us to sell more, faster, at a higher margin and ultimately grow the value of our company by ensuring our clients see exceptional value in every dollar they spend with us.” “We have a formula we use when investing in our sales tech stack,” she continues. “We track the revenue growth associated with every dollar we invest through human capital in the Sales organization. We look at what is increasing value to the firm. The thing that creates true value for the shareholders in our industry is really leveraging technology to truly digitally transform our clients’ way of conducting business.”
To achieve the level of transformation Inmar has achieved requires careful balancing – to deliver the level of digital innovation and transformation that data and technology afford – and that today’s consumers expect – by also continuing to support its traditional business lines that remain important and relevant. Inmar has had to balance allocating resources and sales emphasis across traditional and new sources of growth.
These two groups of businesses have different demand cycles, customer response functions and growth models so they require different approaches to staffing, customer engagement, coverage, skill development and incentives. This leads to some challenging decisions.
“We have some flexibility to adjust compensation or resources on the legacy side of the business to generate additional revenue,” according to Jennifer. “And we can shift activity from one area or the other if we see things slipping in one category, to adjust to the ebbs and flows of the demand cycle, or the changing nature of customer response. But we can’t always dramatically move people across business lines because they are experts by category and key to the client relationships.”
“Key to driving our growth is that our CEO, our leadership team, and our board have done an outstanding job of understanding where our clients’ businesses are evolving,” continues Mauldin. “We deal with retailers, CPG manufacturers, hospitals, pharmacies and wholesalers. The critical factor has been really understanding what is required for each of those businesses to digitally transform and getting in place the right vision and thought leadership to help them make that transformation. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the right people anticipating the future needs of your client base, then you’re going to be creating new products that might look great and might address the current trend, but you won’t grow sustainably.”
Because of this, Jennifer regards human capital in the Sales organization as Inmar’s most important growth asset. “You can have the best technology, but if you don’t have the right people leveraging that technology and you don’t have the right people anticipating the future needs of your client base, your growth is not going to be sustainable,” says Mauldin.
“What’s driven our success from our inception is that we’re a learning organization with a drive toward innovation, and that is embedded in our culture, in our people,” she continues. “So, you first think about your human capital because your people are the ones who make decisions every single day that impact your growth. They deal with our clients. And a big part of the reason we have such strong, enduring client relationships is because our people have a passion and aptitude for technology. They’re always looking at the latest and greatest and testing it out. This has become fundamental to our growth given the speed at which our business is evolving. If you don’t have salespeople who are curious learners then your product strategy and growth strategy won’t line up and you cannot win.”
“When we look at our people, we very much look for people that are curious learners,” emphasizes Mauldin. “Not necessarily engineers but salespeople and client development people who have a passion for innovation through technology. We hire smart people who are constantly learning about technology, how customers are using it to digitally transform their business, and how we can use it to better move them forward. That starts at the top. Developing a culture of learning and leveraging technology for continuous improvement are very important to our CEO David Mounts.”
Investing In Sales Technology to Support Alignment
Digital transformation is not limited to our clients; it also includes the technology transformation of the Sales function, according to Mauldin. “We were not going to be able to scale our Sales organization if we didn’t make the right technology investments. I believe we’ve been really smart in this area. About eight to ten years ago we identified that it would be very important to invest in selling technology. We made that investment and our business has grown as a result.”
“And it’s not just me driving this; it was our entire leadership team,” continues Mauldin. “All of the General Managers and in particular the CTO were instrumental. Ultimately, when you deploy sales technology it impacts other parts of the business. That’s what is great about technology – it enables those interlocks between functions and causes them to work better together.”
“We invested in tools that helped not only our salespeople sell more effectively, but also our finance people, product people, and everyone across the enterprise who supports the customer,” continues Mauldin. “It’s more than CRM. For example, it was about being able to automate the quote process. Previously, it took an hour and a half just to put together a quote. When you see that someone is at a standstill because they are trying to get a quote approved and out to a client – you better start thinking about automating that process. Beyond improving our RFP proposal process, we’ve automated the legal process, and we have invested to automate all of our content management so people can go in and find the presentations and selling materials they need.”
One area in particular that Inmar has effectively used sales technology is to break down silos across functions and better enable the end-to-end customer journey. “We have a very good dynamic of collaboration across the C-suite that helps break down those functional silos that can hold back growth,” says Mauldin. “We have created a center of excellence for sales to formalize the process of integrating technology across our teams that is cross functional. We’ve seen the number of Salesforce.com users more than double over the past three years as a result. And we’re going to implementing Service Cloud to get service more involved.”
This belief about the return on investing in sales enablement and cross functional integration is not necessarily shared by her peers in other organizations according to Jennifer. “When I talk to peers, other CEOs, and Chief Client Officers – many of them put off that investment in sales technology because they were already spending too much. They underestimated the importance of investing in technology transformation or don’t believe as strongly in the return on investment that comes from spending the money for their internal teams. It is dangerous for a Chief Client Officer to think in a silo and only consider their organization when they invest in sales technology rather than considering the entire enterprise and how it interlocks with other functional areas to make the entire process better.
Jennifer Mauldin is the President and Chief Client Officer at Inmar Intelligence
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