In this episode: Ted Heiman, Sr. Sales Executive for Entrust Datacard, shares how your past experiences can set you apart in your ability to sell and understand customers. How do you take a step back and plan for the big picture? How can you see success in sales if you have an engineering background? How do you add value to customers and businesses when selling to enterprise clients? Stay tuned!
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In this episode: Ted Heiman, Sr. Sales Executive for Entrust Datacard, shares how your past experiences can set you apart in your ability to sell and understand customers and more. Stay tuned!
Joseph Fung: In today’s interview we’re speaking with a master of the big picture. He’s been involved in a number of large firsts, from the first supermarket banking to the first common access card for the, US Department of Defense. And his mastery of the big picture. You’ll see it in how he knew that he wanted to be in sales and how he picked his path. You’re really gonna enjoy this interview. Stay tuned.
Welcome to the seller’s journey, the podcast where we speak to great sales reps and leaders and share their real stories from start to sale success.
Joseph Fung: Hello everybody. I’m Joseph Fung. And today I have the great pleasure of chatting with the illustrious, Ted Heiman. He’s a Senior Sales Executive Enterprise Security Specialist at Entrust Datacard. Ted, thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
Ted Heiman: I’m doing great. How are you today, Joseph?
Joseph Fung: Really good. And where in the world are you calling in from today?
Ted Heiman: I’m actually calling in from the San Francisco, Bay Area. I live in a town called Livermore that’s about 35 miles Southeast of San Francisco.
Joseph Fung: Awesome. Now I know I shared your title, Entrust’s company name but maybe you can help our audience. What’s the elevator pitch? Where’d you where do you focus? And what does Entrust Datacard do?
Ted Heiman: Certainly so Entrust Datacard is a company that’s focused primarily in the security industry, both physical and logical access are the primary focus. I’ve been with Entrust Datacard for about a year. And my position is to manage the 100 largest accounts west of Denver. So I would primarily work with major accounts in the 5 billion revenue and above component.
Joseph Fung: So with a couple of SMBs you know main street offices that kind of thing, right?
Ted Heiman: Oh yeah we’re not talking about your small and medium businesses. I work with the household name companies that you hear and see every day. And you know the big brands in pretty much every vertical market.
Joseph Fung: Yeah this is gonna be a lot of fun you are you’re in a remarkable role right now. But you’ve also worked at some of the coolest names in tech, on some of the coolest projects. The one that starts out with me would like to start kind of with education and kicking off because we speak to so many people who stumble into sales, through a surprise or a unique opportunity. And that’s not your story. So maybe you can help us. What did you study? And why did you pick the degree you did?
Ted Heiman: So I chose to study Electronics and Electronics Engineering. The reason that I chose Electronics and Electronics Engineering is actually a fairly interesting story. In that I was I decided that you know I needed to go to college, but I had no idea what I wanted to study I just didn’t have a good idea. But I knew I wanted to sell long term and coming from a family of salespeople, I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do. So I really you know took some time to think about, okay, if you’re going to spend your career in sales, what do you want to sell? And at that time it was when the very first personal computers were hitting the market. and you could see technology just evolving everywhere and it became clear to me that if I had a strong technical background, that it would really enhance my ability to sell and put me in a position of having knowledge that many of my competitors for instance might not have and what I found throughout my career is that having a technical background and being able to absorb and understand these very technical products that I sell allows me to build credibility with c-level executives, very quickly. Because they recognize that I’m not an empty suit, you know unfortunately sales guys have gotten a bad reputation throughout the years you think about the, you know the guys selling cars and you know the car salesman. And you know salespeople don’t have great reputations. And so if you can walk in and immediately gain credibility and add value to the discussion, that means a lot. And so the engineering background and the engineering degrees are what would allow me to do that today.
Joseph Fung: So as engineering alumni myself, I totally agree. I might be biased. But I think you are absolutely correct. This is definitely the right way to go.
Ted Heiman: I think it was a wise decision. It’s definitely paid off.
Joseph Fung: So paying off okay you do this degree you get a job in sales. And it’s really early on in your career that you get a chance to kind of exercise that big picture and solution or into thinking again. And you shared a bit around the story of one of your first and that sale that led to I mean the founding of supermarket banking, I mean this is pretty cool. How did this happen?
Ted Heiman: Yeah this is a very interesting story and it was a scenario where I was working as a computer reseller. Which is essentially kind of a middle man between the distributors and the end-user customers. And we facilitated a lot of the integration work for our customers. And two of my customers were of Wells Fargo Bank and Safeway Corporation and as I work with these customers I’m always trying to understand how I can add value to their organization and how I can earn their business. Because nobody wants to be sold to. And I had two customers and they were both saying the same thing but in a different way. And so Wells Fargo was talking about the challenges that they had around been a strictly brick and mortar type business. And the fact that customers actually had to make an extra trip to go to the bank before they went shopping or to go deposit money into their account before they paid their rent. And they were trying to figure out how to expand their footprint. At the same time, Safeway corporation was heavily focused on grocery sales. but they had these magnificent retail facilities and they were trying to figure out how do we add additional products to generate additional revenue and to provide additional value to our customers and as I thought about these two customers one evening it occurred to me that they were actually saying the same thing and it occurred to me that it was it would make sense to put the two executives that i was working with the two companies together to have a discussion about how they might work together to achieve a common goal. And out of that discussion came the concept of supermarket banking which was a benefit to both Safeway and to Wells Fargo. To Wells Fargo it allowed them to have a bank branch located in a place where customers go every day and give them easy access to their funds. and for Safeway, it provided extra value to their customers by saving them the extra trip going to the bank to get the money that they needed to pay for the groceries and so these two companies agreed to do a pilot and installed the very first full-service bank branch in a Safeway supermarket in Walnut Creek California. And it was a huge success for both organizations and out of that grew what we now call today supermarket banking.
Joseph Fung: That’s remarkable. So I’m so curious I mean fairly fresh out of school. You know a sales professional kind of carrying the bag carrying a quota. What do you think you did differently that helped you spot that opportunity and have the influence to make that conversation happen?
Ted Heiman: Well, I think it’s about how you approach your accounts. And the way that you think about the value that you bring to them. So, many salespeople get trapped in a very tactical mode where they’re simply responding to the customer’s needs and requests. And I tend to take a little bit more of a strategic approach, where I really want to step back and understand my customer’s business. What value are they trying to bring to the market and then what products can I offer them that will help them to provide that value or to solve a problem for them that allows them to spend more time focused on their business. And so you know I think I spend a little bit more time from a strategic perspective really trying to understand these two concepts about, one, what is my customer’s business and two, how do I bring value to that specific customer. And when you start thinking in the terms that they’re thinking in and understanding their business the way they think about their business. All of a sudden, all these new opportunities arise and you start to see these paths, where you can actually come in and bring value to an organization. and I think that you know if you can spend time with your customers to truly understand their business, one, they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re very interested in their business from their perspective and it will put you in a much better position to then provide products and solutions to help them achieve their goals.
Joseph Fung: I love how you are how strategically you articulated the approach. Makes it very accessible. And it brings to mind you shared another story earlier and when I look at your journey and your path this is a very clear trend a very clear line of you know tech company, tech company, tech company, a lot of focus and security. And I’m curious about the strategy and the thinking because there’s one episode right in the middle where it looks like again from an outside observer it looks like you go security, security, shrink wrap, security, so I would love to unbox that because it looks like a left turn at the surface. But it will let you hear the thinking. And what you were doing there?
Ted Heiman: Absolutely, so at the time I was between jobs, so I didn’t have a role with the security company. And I was kind of looking for a new opportunity. and a company that my sister Alice Heiman was working with a company called Fast Wrap was trying to take a technology that had used had been used historically for shrink wrapping boats, to winterize them and keep them clean throughout the months that they weren’t being used and apply that to the construction industry, and to see if there was an opportunity to provide a shrink wrap solution where we actually would shrink-wrap entire buildings. While they were under construction.
Joseph Fung: A whole building, not like parts, but the whole building.
Ted Heiman: The entire building, yes. We’re talking about 30-foot tall hospitals. We did things like air traffic control towers at Oakland airport. We’re talking about edge construction projects. Yes.
Joseph Fung: Okay so I love the fact that in all of our conversations so far you’ve really honed in on the value to the company, to the customer. I confess I’m intrigued. What’s the value of shrink-wrapping your building? This is an area I’m not familiar with. So what’s the customer thinking? Why would they buy this?
Ted Heiman: So what happens is in construction, you tend to have pretty tight timelines and you’re committed to having projects completed by a certain date. Sometimes, there are actually huge fines and penalties, for not completing a project on time. I mean you can be charged up to a hundred thousand dollars a day as a contract if you don’t complete the project on time. And one of the things that really impact and prevents these construction companies from meeting their deadlines is weather and primarily, it’s very difficult to do construction in the rain. And so there was it was a challenge here and there was an opportunity here. And what we recognized was that there was an application for the shrink wrap that went far beyond winterizing boats. And that we if we took this technology and thought about it from a more strategic perspective and thought about other applications where it might bring value. We realized that we could help these companies stay on track with their construction schedule by allowing them to work through the weather. And so what we would do is when they build these large structures, there’s generally scaffolding, that is built around the structure that allows the workers to work in and around the building and we would actually take that same shrink wrap. but it was a thicker material than what you would use on boats and we would shrink-wrap the entire exterior of the scaffolding of the building, which would then allow that contractor to work through storms to rain, wind, either way, and that would help them stay on time and on schedule with their project. And so if you think about having to pay penalties for not achieving the project on time and then being relatively large penalties the ROI was pretty clear. you know if your penalty was a hundred thousand dollars a day and we could come in and wrap your whole building for 50000, then that was an easy return on investment in a simple decision for companies to make and for companies here in the Bay Area, we have a rainy season and there is you know several months during the year where we’re going to get a significant amount of rain and it prevents the construction companies from working during those periods and what this technology which wasn’t a new technology but was a new application of existing technology was intriguing to me and we wanted to prove it out and so I took on a year-long project, with Fast Wrap, whether we could actually prove out the technology and whether there was actually a business model here. And we were extremely successful. It turned out to be a great business and it is now being expanded across the country.
Joseph Fung: Thank you for sharing and clarifying, because I would never have been able to draw that line from shrink wrap to selling on the project, on time and on schedule and on-budget projects. This is great. Thank you.
Ted Heiman: Certainly I was it was I mean for me it was new as well. I mean this was one of those situations where it had never been done before. so you’re kind of making it up as you go along and you know once again it just comes down to understanding your customer’s business. What, how do these construction companies think? What are the things that drive them? And obviously, scheduling is critical because they have so many different subcontractors that have to provide services for them that everything has to say on schedule. So once you understood that, that was very easy then to have a conversation with how this is a way and a technology that can help you stay on schedule and the return on investment is clear.
Joseph Fung: So you’ve got this great strategic approach to working with your customers choosing your path. you know I’d like to ask you if you think back on your journey in sales, you’ve made clearly made a lot of right choices and things have you know followed some of your plans. But what has surprised you most? What stood out as something you didn’t expect in your time in sales?
Ted Heiman: Well you know the security industry is a pretty interesting industry. Because it’s made up of a bunch of primarily very small companies often startup companies that are focused on solving one specific problem.
Joseph Fung: Okay.
Ted Heiman: For the enterprise. From a security perspective. And that’s how the industry has kind of evolved and you know leveraging, you know funding from people that you know want to speculate on whether or not these organizations can actually build a product that that will bring value to an organization from a security perspective. And you know not all the decisions that I made along my career were you know worked out for the best. I mean I’ve made decisions that in my career where an opportunity looked like a really great opportunity and based on everything that they were telling you know this was like you know an opportunity for you to go in and be extremely successful and make a bunch of money and then once you get on the inside you realize that what you were sold was not exactly what was going on. So you know I have made very strategic decisions as far as my career. But I will tell you that not all of them were the right decision and you know oftentimes I would have to reevaluate and think about you know am I in the right place where I can be providing the most value to my clients. And that’s in the security industry that’s something that it’s really important that they see you as bringing value to them and that they understand that you understand the security requirements that an enterprise has to protect all of their IP.
Joseph Fung: I love the way you phrase that, ‘I don’t want to let that go’. I’m asking am I in the right place to provide the most value to my clients, I mean when you think about opportunities, I think that’s a much more powerful lens than just saying is this the right opportunity that I want or is this the best for my career, keeping the clients first is a really good and productive lens, to think about that through. Thank you for suggesting that.
Ted Heiman: No, I, you know, I think because of the industry that I’m in, I end up working with the same customers over and over again from different companies. So I mean I’ve worked with organizations like Chevron for over 20 years. But during that time, I worked for you know four or five different companies providing services to Chevron. So it, you know, in my industry because it is kind of a small world, you know, making sure that you never burn bridges and always have the opportunity to have an open door with the customer is really important as you know and so what I found is that if you have, if you work in an industry like I do and many times you know people find that they work in an industry, and have competitors that work in that same industry, and if you go if you leave your company and go join for instance a competitor’s company you’re going to be doing business with the same customers, that you were doing business with at the last point. and so all I can tell you is never burn any bridges so that there’s always an open door for you when you step into your new role and they understand that you’re the kind of individual that brings value to them and they’re willing to take the time to understand what it is that you have that might help them at this particular moment.
Joseph Fung: This is great advice. And I’m so glad that we got to share some of your stories. We all knowing that we promised not to keep you too long. Do you have a minute for some rapid-fire questions before you have to go?
Ted Heiman: Certainly.
Joseph Fung: Okay, let me crack these open, and let’s see. I’m super intrigued you have worked at a ton of great tech companies, as you’ve been selling. What’s been your favorite sales tool?
Ted Heiman: So, I’m going to get grief for this from a lot of salespeople. But I’m actually going to say Salesforce is the best tool out there for managing your business from a sales perspective. But I must express one huge caveat.
Joseph Fung: Okay.
Ted Heiman: To be implemented properly.
Joseph Fung: Nice.
Ted Heiman: Not easy to do. Salesforce is a very complex tool. And it has tons of features and capabilities. and I’ve worked for companies that had that were using it, that had it set up so it was working, was an efficient and effective tool, for you to manage your business. And I’ve worked for companies that had it when it wasn’t configured properly and wasn’t really designed well. So you could use it to run your business. So Salesforce is a very powerful tool if you understand how to use it and if the company that you’re working for has invested the time and energy to make sure that it’s set up for to be able to do the things that you need to be able to do to manage your territory.
Joseph Fung: That is great.
Ted Heiman: Yeah from a big picture perspective and then you know I have to make a shout out to Miller Heiman. You know there’s something that’s called a blue sheet in Miller Heiman terms. And that is a planning tool, a sales planning tool that you can use to thoughtfully think out your strategy around any specific customer or opportunity and the reason that I like the blue sheet goes back to the concept of strategic thinking, in that a lot of the sales guys sell from the gut. I believe salespeople are born and not made and there’s this gut instinct that allows you to, you know, make the right decision at the right time for the people that are successful salespeople. you know working from your gut is fine and then certainly has helped me through my career, but being able to take an elevator that up to an analytical level where you can actually put down on paper and analyze all the components of the sale, all the different buying influences in the sale, and what their motivations are. What the business is trying to accomplish and how you bring value to them, when you start to lay this out on a blue sheet this is where the strategic thinking starts to happen and you start to see things and patterns and you see ways that you know you’re looking at this a specific customer you say, you know, what with the previous customer, I saw the same pattern and I was able to accomplish this by taking these specific actions. And so the blue sheet is just a great tool for you to plan out and manage your sales especially your bigger sales and to give you that opportunity to do a little bit more of that strategic thinking that ought to go into every sales opportunity.
Joseph Fung: I love it. Okay, this is a good about kind of work. But outside of work, what’s been your favorite movie?
Ted Heiman: So my favorite movie of all times is called ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’, and it’s a Clint Eastwood movie during the civil war period and it was actually, it was a Clint Eastwood not only directed it, but he starred in the movie as well, and the thing that draws me to it is one I love old westerns and so you know everything that Clint Eastwood does from that perspective is awesome. But I think, even more, important than that, the cinematography that was done for this production was absolutely amazing. Most cowboy movies that’s not never even taken into consideration if you think about the old spaghetti westerns in the film.
Joseph Fung: Yeah.
Ted Heiman: The cinematography of ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ is absolutely amazing and everybody should take an opportunity to watch the movie and get to see a little bit about the history of our country and the beautiful cinematography of our country.
Joseph Fung: This has been great. I think the tools you mentioned are fantastic, I’ve got another movie added to my list. Ted, thank you so much for taking the time today. This was incredible.
Ted Heiman: Oh my pleasure. I’m always happy to do these types of interviews and always looking to help other salespeople. You know, find ways to be successful and bring value to their customers. And so I appreciate you taking the time to spend with me.
Joseph Fung: I’m looking forward to getting your story out there and I’m really looking forward to our next conversation because I’ve got a lot more to learn. And I’m looking forward to making that happen.
Ted Heiman: I am looking forward to that as well.
Joseph Fung: Awesome! I hope you have a wonderful afternoon and we’ll chat again soon.
Ted Heiman: Thank you, Joseph. You too the same.
Joseph Fung: Take care. Ciao.