Where are they now? A chat with Kevin Konynenbelt, CEO of Solv3D
Prior to becoming the CEO of Solv3D, Kevin Konynenbelt spent most of his career as a Professional Services executive delivering complex projects to enterprise clients. So, it’s fair to say that until he attended the first 321 Sales Academy cohort in the Spring of 2017, his experience with sales was focused on making his clients happy and implementing the (sometimes crazy) commitments of his Sales colleagues.
Recently, we connected with Kevin, to get an update.
Kevin, what’s up with you and Solv3D now? What’s changed since we saw you at Demo Day in mid 2017?
I registered for 321 Sales Academy so I could learn about the other side of the table – sales – in order to build a strong sales function at Solv3D. But what I learned helped us in some unexpected ways.
First, 321 changed our focus. Instead of focusing inward on our product, we reoriented our thinking to focus more externally on our market – how to position ourselves and make ourselves attractive to buyers.
Second, we were able to use our mad sales skills to raise the funding we needed. We were able to build a better pitch to investors, because we understood the problem we solve, and the value we deliver. Closing a substantial (seven-figure) round of investment was a major step forward for us.
As a result of that investment, we were able to use the funding to bring the needed sales and marketing talent to the team, to help us drive Solv3D to the next level.
If you look back to your experience at 321 Sales Academy, what has been of most value to you?
When I first started out in sales, I was approaching prospects like I had on the delivery side – as if they were already committed. Now, I focus more on qualification, and moving the prospect towards a buy.
We really know who our customer is, and how to reach them. We’ve been able to take a lean approach, and experiment to find out how to “fish where the fish are”. We know now that the traction channels that work best for our complex, technical product are search marketing and targeted industry events and conferences. We are generating more, quality leads, and now have a compelling narrative that resonates with our buyers.
We learned to stop trying to educate the market, and to focus – at least, in sales – on who has the problem we solve, who understands our category, and is thus likely to move forward quickly.
Any other big wins and accomplishments to celebrate at Solv3D?
We have been working with a market-leading “early adopter” that has helped us refine our understanding of the problems we solve and their requirements. Equally importantly, they’ve helped us learn how to navigate inside a huge enterprise, which has been a great learning experience for our whole team.
Now you’ve got some sales experience under your belt. What advice do you have for startups just starting on their sales journey?
First, just focus! There are so many options, and so little time. CEOs need to get their teams focused on the areas in their business where there is the most potential to drive revenue and growth.
Next, I’d say that everyone at a startup thinks their role is tough. But sales and marketing are really, really hard! There is so much information about sales and marketing, but much of it is focused on B2C, and isn’t effective for B2B. Be sure you are getting good advice, and don’t forget to reach out to those who’ve been down the same path before, so you can learn from their experience.
This post originally appeared on Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s Start Alberta portal.