Henning is a creative, adaptable, and results-driven global executive with extensive domestic and international experience in Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, and General Management, both in a corporate and entrepreneurial setting. In his career he has been a global nomad, spending the last 20 years building, transforming, and leading sales teams around the world. This experience lead him to start Vendux and become the chief evangelist for interim and fractional sales leadership, helping to grow sales for SMEs.
- CEO Hack: Calender to record every appointment, conversation and events and schedule the events I have
- CEO Nugget: Consistently planning everything you want to do, it takes longer
- CEO Defined: Being an enabler
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today of Hennings fandom of vindex heading. It's awesome. have you on the show?
Henning Schwinum 1:23
Thank you, Gresh. Thank you for having me. wonderful to be here.
Gresham Harkless 1:26
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped into the show, I want to read a little bit more about hitting so you hear about all these awesome things that he's doing. And Henning is a creative, adaptable, and results-driven global executive with extensive domestic and international experience in Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, and General Management, both in a corporate and entrepreneurial setting. In his career he has been a global nomad, spending the last 20 years building, transforming, and leading sales teams around the world. This experience lead him to start Vendux and become the chief evangelist for interim and fractional sales leadership, helping to grow sales for small to medium sized enterprises. Henning, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?
Henning Schwinum 1:23
I'm totally ready for the IAMCEO community.
Gresham Harkless 1:26
Awesome. Well, let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more of how you get started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? Well, that you get set up the business.
Henning Schwinum 1:36
Absolutely. You already mentioned that I spent over 20 years leading building transforming sales teams. And that's my, my passion, my background, I didn't grow up to go into sales, I actually started in jobs like product management or supply chain. Then I did some e business stuff, when e business became a thing in the late 90s. But building sales teams became my passion. Over the last 20 years, I started with sales teams that were just just myself adding a first person to it in a second. And then eventually, teams between 50 and 100 people around the world. And I I fell in love with high quality sales, leadership and the value of brings to business because I also saw the flip side teams that were badly lead leaders that didn't that weren't really leaders, they were just managers. They were just administering something they were needing to be. And so I decided last year that I wanted to start a business that provides this great sales leadership into every company, because there are a lot of folks like me out there, a little gray hair, a few years of experience, and ready to put this to work in an organization not to administer, but to solve a problem that they're having. And that's the premise of the index. I have a roster of experienced sales executives, people who've led sales teams average about 20 years of just sales leadership experience. And on the other side, then there are businesses, most of them small and medium size, who need help who have a problem. And if the problem is sales leadership, then I can place someone on an interval fractional basis into the organization.
Gresham Harkless 3:45
Nice. Well, I definitely appreciate that. And I think so many times as you kind of spoke to I think you don't realize kind of that leadership aspect, especially related to sales and then sales team on that level. Because I think so many times you think if you just hire somebody, you kind of plug them into a hole and they'll do everything they need to do and bring revenue, bring opportunities, solve all these problems for clients. But I imagine that that is not how it happens at all.
Henning Schwinum 4:11
Gresh you're 100% on target here because there are I've met so many entrepreneurs, people with a technology background who build great companies and great products, but they don't understand the dynamics of sales, my dynamics of selling, all they know is I hire somebody with the title sales and they'll do the selling and I you know, I pay them a commission only or a large share of their compensation is commission and they'll do the job, only to find that that is in everything. It takes a process it takes a target customer definition it takes the right collateral, it takes the right messaging it takes the right pricing, then it takes the right leadership. Because salespeople are humans, everyone needs guidance and needs somebody to turn to with questions. Expecting answer somebody, everybody needs someone to look up to as a leader to take them to the next level. And that's often a missing piece. And that's why I feel so strongly about the value of leadership, especially in sales. Because I always say that sales is underrated. How many companies have a CFO and a CIO, and maybe a CIO. But they don't have a chief sales officer, or chief revenue officer. But they have is a VP of Sales somewhere below the sea level organization. And guess who brings in the revenue? It's not the product. I mean, every single product doesn't sell itself, because it's such a great product, it requires active, still an active sales team to actually bring it to market.
Gresham Harkless 6:14
Yeah, that makes so much sense. And that's a valid thing. And as you said, that is I don't see that a lot. As you said the chief sales officer or chief revenue officer, do you think that's just kind of like an awareness? But I know there's so much kind of misinformation I guess you can say? Or maybe not accurate information is a better way to say it around like the business and aspects of a business. Do you think that maybe getting more awareness and knowledge to these leaders to understand how vital and important it is to have that leadership from a sales perspective, would be so pivotal, as far as increasing the likelihood of these organizations being successful?
Henning Schwinum 6:46
I absolutely think there is the need for an educational element. And you already quoted that I call myself this chief evangelist. Now, I'm a single person shouting out into the world. So my impact is probably very, very small. But I find myself over and over and over again, in conversations where I am not selling my services or my business, I'm selling the concept and the value. And I'd like to, I believe in this concept of strength and numbers and Venn ducks is not the only business out there providing a matchmaking service for this function. There are a few others out there. And I aim to network with all of them, because I think collectively, we can have an impact. Certainly an impact in pushing the the gig solution, the interim, fractional, contractual outsource solution for sales leadership. Maybe beyond that, even elevating the role of sales within an organization so that there's always a chief sales officer in the C suite of every company.
Gresham Harkless 8:16
Yeah, absolutely. And I think even being one person and shouting it out, it starts to create that movement. And people start to create create that awareness and understanding. And then it's not necessarily you have to knock on, knock over all the dominoes at the exact same time, you just have to knock over that one. And then it starts to repel all those things for it. So I appreciate you doing that for us today. So I know you touched a little bit on how you serve the clients you work with. Did you have anything more on like how exactly that fractional kind of process work? What exactly that looks like, and what you feel kind of sets you apart from those other organizations? Yes.
Henning Schwinum 8:48
Let's start with the first part of the question. You know, what, what is fractional in this in this concept? A lot of CEOs are familiar with the concept of a fractional CFO, because if you run an organization of 10 2050, even 100 people, you don't need a full time CFO, you only need that skill set two days a week, or, you know, last week of the month, or you know, it's very specific times during the year. So a lot of CEOs turn to fractional CFOs. To bring them into the organization. They get great skills and lower costs than if they were hiring a full time CFO. Now the same thing applies to other functions, including the sales leader, and let's call him the VP of sales in an organization. If you have five salespeople. Your VP of sales is very likely spending over 50% of his time calling directly on clients and being an individual person contributor, you have this player coach combination. And then there's always this conflict for the person how much time and effort was spent on being a coach and how much on a player from a business owner from a CEO perspective, that means that you're paying somebody a really big salary, a really big paycheck for just pounding the pavement and being a regular salesperson, you don't need that full time. And that's where fractional comes in. If you contract a fractional sales leader, you only pay for what you need, because the leadership aspect of sales may only be required two days a week. And what it does, it frees payroll or paycheck money up to be invested on another into another person that pounding the pavement. And there are other benefits in in a fractional concept. There's the immediate availability, because there is a roster of available executives, you don't have to go through a six month or nine month executive recruiting process. Those people are highly qualified. They are at a point in their career where they've done and accomplished already, at least once often multiple times over what you as a CEO with your new business are trying to accomplish. And you will you be able if you were to permanently recruit this a sales leader, would you be able to acquire this same talent into your organization? The answer is likely not. So you're getting high quality individuals who've been there done that in your industry with your products on they come in on short notice one to two weeks Max is what it takes. You can hire them fractional and only pay for what you need. And that's the beauty of this concept. And CEOs, as I said at the beginning have realized this for the fractional CFO, but not so much for the sales lever. As said earlier there. We're not the only organization. So what sets us apart, it's that we focus solely on that one role, this sales leader or commercial leader, most other organizations focus on all the different c suites. And because the CFO or fractional CFO, interim CEO is more prevalent. Guess where their focus is it's not on the sales leader. And I and my business partner, and the people we have as advisors, as advisors in the background are all sales leadership practitioners, they all have our or have worked in these roles before. We don't come with a background of HR or recruiting or consulting. We have worked those roles. And I believe in the matchmaking of bringing together the perfect match between an available executive and a company with a need that place
Gresham Harkless 13:16
to our favor. I absolutely love that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a SEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient. My
Henning Schwinum 13:30
most important tool is a calendar. You know, to record every appointment, every conversation, every scheduled event that I have, whether it's business or personal, in one place is really important. I love
Gresham Harkless 13:49
that hack. And now I want to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It could be around sales, or it might be something if you were to happen to a time machine, you would tell your younger business self
Henning Schwinum 14:02
consistently, I find that everything you plan then ends up taking longer, right you want to reach a certain milestone in revenue, you know always takes longer when you originally plan. Awesome. So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping that different clinical CEOs on this show so heading, what is being a CEO mean to you? To me, it's um, being a CEO means being an enabler. If I'm a solopreneur. I have a business and it just me, then it's just me. If I have a team of people working with me in an organization, then my role as CEO is to enable them to enable the each one of them to do the jobs that they were hired to do to achieve or over achieve their goals and as an enabler, I remove roadblocks I provide answers in a quick, direct responsive fashion so that they can move on.
Gresham Harkless 15:08
Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Well, Henning truly appreciate that definition. And I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you and your team and find out about all the awesome things you're doing.
Henning Schwinum 15:23
Yeah, well. And to answer the last part, just go to vendux.org, v,e,n,d,u,x dot org. All the contact details are on the website, check it out, and contact us if we can help you or your team in meeting or achieving sales goals and Gresh. I appreciate you and the show that you're putting together. And I look forward to listening to a lot of other extremely interesting CEOs that you have as guests on your show.
Gresham Harkless 15:59
Thank you. I truly appreciate that. Henning, we will have the links and information in the show notes as well, so that people can follow up with you. And I appreciate you for all you're doing as well too, and leading the March. And I feel like there should be like campaign signs up we need more CEOs in our organization. So I appreciate you leading that charge and and getting that going because it's definitely something that's needed and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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