Americas Leader of Application Sales Adam Plummer has been with RelationEdge since our early days, when he came on board as a regional co-founder by starting the Chicago office. He was recently promoted from Market President of the Midwest to his new role, in which he’ll be responsible for overseeing all of our national sales.
I was lucky enough catch up with Adam to learn more about his new position and how he sees our partnership with Salesforce growing as we integrate further into the Rackspace family. Read the interview below to learn about Adam’s perspective on these changes, and more— including why Adam loves coming to work in the morning!
Nikki Carter: Congratulations on your new role! Thank you for making time to chat with me between meetings. I’d love if you could fill us in a little bit about what this new position involves, and how your journey has progressed within RelationEdge.
Adam Plummer: My role in the organization now is to provide sales leadership to the Rackspace group responsible for selling services for industry-leading applications. These are apps like Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, and other top-tier providers of applications and, specifically, SaaS platforms.
When I started out with RelationEdge, I was a regional co-founder. Matt Stoyka started the company in 2013 with a vision of creating a technology services company that could help businesses embark on digital transformations and leverage SaaS platforms throughout the process. He foresaw the RelationEdge business to be nationally present, but locally focused where possible — this local focus is necessary from both a sales and delivery standpoint, to be able to meet clients and partners where they are.
Clearly relationships are central to everything we do at RelationEdge, hence our company name. Establishing and maintaining relationships was very important to Matt, and I was one of the first regional leaders he brought on to help kick things off by starting the Chicago (Midwest) office. I’ve been growing it ever since and building the local team from a sales and delivery standpoint.
We knew we needed to standardize things across the nation whenever appropriate and possible, and we started with delivery. Sales has continued to be regional in some aspects, as salespeople tend to be more successful when they’re close to clients for on-site sales discussions and are able to understand firsthand what types of businesses the clients are running.
NC: Having been here five years, I’m guessing you’ve seen a lot of changes happen during that time.
AP: I started out having to be engaged in everything, from local recruiting, to delivery, to project management, and of course: selling. It’s like I started out wearing eight coats and as we’ve grown over the years, I’ve been able to remove a coat as each key team member was hired. Part of what I really appreciated is that with each new hire, the load became a bit lighter because there were more people to drive our success. We have a well-oiled team, not just regionally, but nationally. I can now focus on key activities to successfully drive sales, including our relationships with Salesforce and our clients.
NC: What’s been the biggest change between your old and new roles?
AP: I probably shouldn’t say this, but more meetings!
On a more serious note, the biggest change has been that I’m less directly involved in individual sales pursuits and deals. When I was selling to or focused in the Midwest, I was involved in every active deal. Now, I stay aware of the clients we’re looking to do business with, but I’m more searching for overall patterns: Are we working with certain industries more than others? What size businesses are we working with? Where are we doing repeat business? I have more visibility into those trends, because I’m now looking across all of our US regions.
Another thing that’s different is that I’m now responsible for all of the application services Rackspace sells, which includes the Productivity Team (Cloud Office/Microsoft Office), ERP/Database Services Team (Oracle/SAP/etc), Data Services (formerly ObjectRocket), CRM (RelationEdge), and Digital (Sitecore and eCommerce). My extended teams are responsible for sales across all of those application spaces.
NC: What excites you most about being the Americas Leader of Application Sales?
AP: I’m excited about the opportunity to broaden what we do for clients overall. When I first started at RelationEdge, my focus was on Salesforce and CRM — which is great, but there’s more we can do for clients in and around the Salesforce platform, including other services that Rackspace offers. For example, Marketing Cloud, FSL, and CPQ are key areas for us to focus and broaden within the Salesforce platform. Integrations through MuleSoft to other platforms opens an entirely new set of doors for our business.
Part of what was attractive about Rackspace acquiring RelationEdge was the ability to have a much bigger plate of offerings we can present to a client as they go through digital transformation and are looking to increase their technology capabilities. We’re now able to do much more for them based on the number of employees we have, the countries in which we operate, and the technology partners we have. There’s a much broader set of services we can deliver to clients in addition to being a Salesforce partner.
NC: What’s your vision for RelationEdge as we move forward? How do you plan to approach integrating RelationEdge more fully within Rackspace?
AP: My vision is that we bring the technology consulting experience and approach we have at RelationEdge to Rackspace, as well as our solution selling approach. Traditionally, Rackspace has been focused on being the #1 “IT-as-a-service” provider. Rackspace is well-versed in how to sell those services; however, when we’re selling SaaS, we’re often talking about a different sale. We have to create a vision for our clients, somewhat like the “art of the possible.”
Think of it like selling someone a house. Selling a house is very different than selling the mechanical and electronic equipment in the house. Most people understand what an HVAC unit does and why you need it, or why to invest in a backup generator. But when you’re selling someone a house, you’re talking more about the vision of what can be done in that house, how that person’s family can grow within the four walls.
Part of the vision of Rackspace acquiring RelationEdge was to achieve mutual benefit by understanding how we each sell to our respective audiences and how we can upscale each other’s skill sets. My vision involves us taking our solutions selling approach — Process First. Technology Second. — to Rackspace to help drive a different, and expanded, type of relationship with clients.
In the last 18 months, there’s been a lot of forward momentum with integrating RelationEdge into Rackspace, and there’s still a lot of opportunity as we move into the future. Invariably, there’s a real symbiotic relationship because in fact, each benefits from the other … and getting us to recognize that is a top priority for me.
Something else I’m really excited about is that recently, there were organizational shifts within Rackspace to create a unified Americas team. These were full-boat changes, from Professional Services to Sales — folks like Emilie Hersh and myself are peers now, with no separation, under a common leader. Moreover, the people responsible for Rackspace sales, both enterprise and commercial, are also my peers, where previously they were separated from the Applications Sales team. Rackspace has recognized there are benefits to unifying our groups into one team, so that we can work together more effectively.
NC: How do you see our partnership with Salesforce continuing to evolve and expand?
AP: Number one: We will continue to expand upmarket. Salesforce has several client segments, 4 of which are commercial, and the final 3 are enterprise:
- SB: Small Business
- GRB: Growth Business
- MM: Mid-Market, or Mid-Commercial
- GB: General Business
- Select (first level of enterprise business)
As you can see, there’s a lot of segmentation. The first four segments are where RelationEdge has primarily focused over the last 4-5 years. We’ve selectively been involved in the enterprise segments, and moving forward, we’ll establish a formal approach for enterprise accounts. As you can imagine — back to my analogy about selling homes — there’s a different way you’d sell prefabricated homes versus custom built homes. The sales process, approach, and timeline are inherently different. As such, we need to adapt our sales process to the differences in selling into the enterprise space. I want to evolve our partnership by moving into the enterprise space in a methodical way and having an approach, and team, that is dedicated to that space.
Another equally important area of focus is to continue our expansion within the Commercial segment, also tapping into the Rackspace client base. We have no intentions of leaving the Commercial space; there are hundreds to thousands of businesses that can benefit from our capabilities. I want to see us streamline our sales motion in the Commercial space. What clients are looking for when they partner with us is to help them change their business, reduce complexity, and make things easier. In the Commercial space, we have an opportunity to reduce the complexity of our own sales process, to become more efficient.
Finally, I think our Salesforce relationship will evolve based on our partnership with MuleSoft. MuleSoft is a really big part of what Salesforce offers as a technology stack — that was a $6.5 billion acquisition last year — and we’ve already invested in sales resources in that area. We’ll continue to expand and do more with MuleSoft. This area not only increases our partnership with Salesforce but also ties back into Rackspace, because MuleSoft is an integration platform that can bring any systems together.
When you think about what Rackspace and RAS (Rackspace Application Services) offer, it involves other applications beyond Salesforce, so this relationship with MuleSoft makes sense. We can integrate Salesforce with Oracle or another database application. This partnership increases the relevancy of what Rackspace does as an integration partner. In fact, Rackspace and RelationEdge both had MuleSoft experience before the acquisition, so this was a common area of experience and strength.
NC: Time for a more lighthearted question! What’s your favorite thing about working here? What makes you feel energized and ready to come to work in the morning?
AP: This may sound kitschy, but it’s true — my favorite thing about working here is being surrounded by a lot of very smart and talented people. People often look to a leader as the person driving the success of a company. I strongly feel that no organization grows because of one person; it grows because of the team. I appreciate that I have the opportunity to work with many knowledgeable people who can help me grow. Since “Day 1” at RelationEdge, I’ve had a great team around me, and we always win together.
As far as what energizes me to come to work, I’ll have to jump into the time machine to explain my answer. Part of the reason I started a career in consulting was a decision I made over two decades ago. When I graduated in Computer Science, I was on a path to become a software developer. As I talked to my advisor, I told him I truly enjoyed software development and I wanted to do it for many companies, tackling different projects. What excited me was finding ways to use various technologies to solve business problems. My advisor said, “Well, that’s consulting!” I originally embarked on a career in consulting based on the promise that every day would present an opportunity to solve problems for clients using technology, combined with knowledge and project experience.
I get excited when we work with clients and can fundamentally change the ways they operate their business, using the tools we have — whether that’s Salesforce technology or knowledge we’ve gained from another engagement. That gets me jazzed! I may not be the one actually doing the implementation or the sales anymore, but the fact that we’re able to do that for clients is amazing.
NC: Thank you so much for talking with me! It’s been insightful to learn about your new role and where you see the company going. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AP: There’s a tremendous opportunity for us to grow as a company, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what RelationEdge and Rackspace can accomplish together. With the organizational changes we’ve made to align us in being a unified team, I think we’ve cleared the way for even more growth.
Adam Plummer has more than 20 years of IT, management, software engineering and application architecture experience. Prior to joining RelationEdge, Adam held VP of IT, Technical Architect and Management Consultant roles at companies like Maven Wave Partners, Eagle Test Systems, Risetime Technologies, BroadVision, Xpedior and Metamor Technologies. Adam received his bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.