IAM1738 – Founder and Global Executive Helps Grow Sales for SMEs

Podcast Interview with Henning Schwinum

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: In episode IAM794 of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Henning Schwinum, the founder of Vendux. Henning is a global executive with extensive experience in sales, marketing, supply chain, and general management. He has spent over 20 years building, transforming, and leading sales teams around the world.

In the interview, Henning discusses the importance of high-quality sales leadership and the value it brings to businesses. He also explains how Vendux provides interim and fractional sales leadership to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Henning shares his passion for helping SMEs grow their sales and the benefits of having a chief sales officer in the C-suite of every company.

Additionally, Henning provides advice for entrepreneurs and business owners on the importance of sales leadership and the value of fractional sales leadership. Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the world of sales leadership and effective strategies for growing sales in SMEs.

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Henning Schwinum Teaser 00:00

Guess who brings in the revenue? It's not the product. Every single product doesn't sell itself because it's such a great product. It requires an active sales team to actually bring it to market.

Intro 00:16

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 00:42

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset; talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation. And if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be, especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. That's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI- diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different. In this month, we are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focus on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset, their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Henning Schwinum of Vendux. Henning, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Henning Schwinum 02:14

Thank you, Gresh. Thank you for having me. Wonderful to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

No problem. Super excited to have you on. Before we jump into the show, I wanted to read a little bit more about Henning. So you hear about all these awesome things that he's doing.

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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 all around the world.

This experience led 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 I AM CEO community?

Henning Schwinum 02:58

I am totally ready for the I AM CEO community.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:01

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, hear a little bit more on how you got started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? What let you get started with the business.

Henning Schwinum 03:10

Absolutely. You already mentioned that I spent over 20 years leading, building, and transforming sales teams, and that's my passion and 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 nineties. But building sales teams became my passion over the last 20 years, and I started with sales teams that were just myself. Adding a first person to it and a second, and then eventually teams between 50 and a hundred people around the world.

I fell in love with high-quality sales leadership and the value it brings the business because I also saw the flip side of teams that were badly led. Leaders that weren't really leaders, they were just managers. They were just administering something, they weren't leading a team. So I decided last year that I wanted to start a business that provides this great sales leadership to 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 Vendux. I have a roster of experienced sales executives, people who've led sales teams, and average about 20 years of just sales leadership experience.

On the other side, there are businesses most of them, small and medium size, who need help, have a problem. And if the problem is sales leadership, then I can place someone on an internal fractional basis into the organization.

Gresham Harkless 05:13

Nice. I definitely appreciate that and I think so many times as you spoke to me, I think you don't realize that leadership aspect, especially related to sales and the sales team on that level.

Because I think so many times you think if you just hire somebody, you plug them into a hole and they'll do everything that you need to do and bring revenue, bring opportunities, solve all these problems for clients. But I imagine that is not how it happens at all.

Henning Schwinum 05:36

Gresh, you're a hundred percent on target here because I've met so many entrepreneurs, people with a technology background who've built great companies and great products, but they don't understand the dynamics of sales, dynamics of selling. All they know is I hire somebody with the title sales and they'll do the selling. I pay them commission only or a large share of their compensation as commission and they'll do the job only to find that isn't 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 answers. Somebody, everybody needs someone to look up to as a leader to take them to the next level. That's often a missing piece. 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 COO and maybe a CIO, but they don't have a Chief Sales Officer or Chief Revenue Officer. What they have is the VP of sales somewhere below the C-level organization. And guess who brings in the revenue? It's not the product. Every single product doesn't sell itself because it's such a great product. It requires an active sales team to actually bring it to market.

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Gresham Harkless 07:31

Yeah, that makes so much sense 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 07:42

I absolutely think there is a 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.

I believe in this concept of strength and numbers and Vendux 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 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 09:03

Yeah. So I know you touched a little bit on how you serve the clients you work with. Did you have anything more on how exactly that fractional kind of process work? What exactly that looks like and what you feel sets you apart from those other organizations?

Henning Schwinum 09:14

Yes. Let's start with the first part of the question, what is fractional in this concept? A lot of CEOs are familiar with the concept of a fractional CFO because if you run an organization of 10, 20, 50, or even 100 people, you don't need a full-time CFO. You only need that skillset two days a week or the last week of the month or 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 at 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 them the VP of sales in an organization. If you have five salespeople, Your VP of sales is very likely spending over 50% of their time, calling directly on clients and being an individual contributor.

You have this player-coach combination and then there's always this conflict for the person. How much time and effort do I spend 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.

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 into another person that pounds the pavement. There are other benefits to a fractional concept. There is 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.

If you were to permanently recruit this sales leader, would you be able to acquire the same talent in 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. 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 leader. As I said earlier, we're not the only organization. So what sets us apart it's that we focus solely on that one role as a sales leader or commercial leader.

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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 in the background are all sales leadership practitioners. They all are or have worked in these roles before. We don't come with a background in 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 plays to our favor.

Gresham Harkless 13:31

I absolutely love that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO 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?

Henning Schwinum 13:42

My most important tool is a calendar. To record every appointment every conversation, and every scheduled event that I have, whether it's business or personal in one place, is really important.

Gresham Harkless 14:01

I love that hack. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It could be around sales or it might be something if you were to hop into a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.

Henning Schwinum 14:14

Consistently I find that everything you plan. Then ends up taking longer, right? You want to reach a certain milestone in revenue. It always takes longer than you originally planned.

Gresham Harkless 14:27

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and we're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show.

So Henning, what has being a CEO mean to you?

Henning Schwinum 14:37

To me it's being a CEO means being an enabler. If I'm a solopreneur, I have a business and it's 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 each one of them to do the jobs that they were hired to do, to achieve or overachieve their goals. As an enabler, I remove roadblocks. I provide answers in a quick direct responsive fashion so that they can move on.

Gresham Harkless 15:18

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Henning, truly appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was 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 ahold of you and your team and find out about all the awesome things you're doing.

Henning Schwinum 15:32

Yeah. To answer the last part just go to 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. 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 16:02

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 hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:10

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at

This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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