About Me – TO’B

I am an HR Technology sales executive with experience helping venture-backed companies do business with large ones. My interests include health care design, delivery & cost trends, the evolution of enterprise software/services, how technology can enable better HR & Benefits management and the evolution of HR from a caretaker function to one that uses tools, metrics and data to pro-actively select, develop and manage people.

HR should have the same level of ability to use qualtitative data to support initiatives and measure results as do finance, marketing and manufacturing. (Something about the term “human capital management” turns me off – we aren’t machines – but the meaning of it is exactly right. We need to do a better job of managing people if we want to improve results.)

My HR background goes way back to 1984 when I became Director of HR and Benefits for Dean Foods Company. That lasted for a while as we installed a 401(k) plan (see squirrel story), HMO’s, PPO’s, etc. I then moved over to the sales side and started up an industrial sales division for Dean where we sold food ingredients to large manufacturers like Kraft, Nabisco, ConAgra, McDonalds and others. This was my first experience in sales, and I really liked it. With sales, you always know if you win or lose!

After Dean Foods I moved over to the vendor side, working for a great firm called Howard Johnson & Co. HOJO was a consulting, actuarial and benefits administration firm way ahead of its time. HOJO was a great firm because we had a laser focus on client needs and client service. We did what we said we were going to do, and had technology and systems to support what we were selling.

After a great run leading sales for the Chicago office (we went from 15 people to about 110 people) HOJO was bought by Merrill Lynch & Co. Needless to say, ML was a rather different environment than HOJO and I soon began looking for other opportunities. So in 1998 or so I took a detour into dot com world and joined SpeechWorks.

SpeechWorks is (was) in the speech reco business and was a GREAT company to work for. They had the same drive, intelligence, teamwork and focus on the client that made HOJO such a great organization. We got lots of new accounts, made some money, went public and were rich for a few months until the world came to its senses. Still, this experience was great for me and introduced me to the world of pattern recognition in which I still participate as an advisory borad member for a social media consultancy РMotiveQuest LLC.  I left SpeechWorks after a couple of acquisitions and mergers fundamentally changed the organization Рit is now Nuance Communications.

Following SpeechWorks I came back to HR Technology outsourcing/services joining Workscape and after a couple of years there I joined RealLife HR. RealLife HR is a provider of HR and Benefits outsourcing services and technology to companies with between 2,000 and 100,000 employees. What I like about RLHR is that it feels like home to me. A company that knows what matters has the tools to do the work and a management team that is focused on the mission and working together. Our clients love us because we do what we say we will.

Over the course of my career I have closed many large deals with organizations including McDonalds, United Airlines, Kraft, Unilever, TD Ameritrade, Commonwealth Edison, Ford, General Motors, Chase, Kohl’s, Pulte Homes, and many others. I have been thru the RFP/Finals/Negotiation ringer more times than I care to remember – but I still love the thrill of the chase and the closing of a deal.

My sales philosophy is very simple.

  1. Know who you want to sell to. (Org with btw 5,000 and 50,000 ees.)
  2. Know what you will sell. (Things we already have in production.)
  3. Call on them directly. (Don’t rely on brokers, partners, etc.)
  4. Choose when to compete. (Is it a good fit for us? Good fit for them?)
  5. Ignore blind RFP’s. (Did you ever win one?)

And of course one more. As my old boss Bud Johnson used to say – we sell to the ones we can walk to first.

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2 Responses to About Me – TO’B

  1. I agree with your belief in the need for the evolution of HR. Would like to talk with you regarding new HR solution to greatly improve HR’a ability to manage enetrprise-wide resources through simple and powerful metrics. The bigger the company in terms of employees, the greater the benefit.

  2. TO’B,

    I love this article! All 5 points are right on target. I’ve been in technical sales and sales development for 30 years and it’s always great to find someone who gets it.

    To your point about technology in HR, I also agree. We represent the Predictive Index assessment. It’s one way people can use technology to ensure they are putting the right people in the right jobs. You can see more at http://www.predictiveresults.com. We even offer a free trial if you are interested.

    Keep on selling and helping,

    Steve Waterhouse

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