Take some action today. Don’t wait until when you think is the best time. Go now, adjust later.
Rick is CEO and Founder of LeadBridge®, an account intelligence research firm that helps technology companies sell more strategically to Global 2000 enterprise prospects. More than half of the largest 20 software firms use account insights from LeadBridge to shorten complex sales cycles and drive account-based marketing programs. Under Rick’s leadership, LeadBridge® has been recognized by Inc. Magazine and the Boston Business Journal as one of the fastest growing private companies in Massachusetts. Rick holds a B.A. in Administrative Science from Colby College. Rick is also an avid fundraiser for cancer research, and has run dozens of road races and several marathons for Dana-Farber Cancer Hospital and LLS.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I used to be a software sales rep and was frustrated at the quality of outsourced services we used to help penetrate our top tier prospects. So I started a company called LeadBridge to do it better. Today, LeadBridge is the only firm bringing together truly personalized account intelligence for enterprise sales reps to have more relevant conversations with their key accounts. We understand the incredible pressure on sales and marketing, and we help them by accelerating difficult and time-consuming aspects of prospecting and account planning. We provide the fuel (insights) to power ABM and help reps sell.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I love my job. I drive our overall product development strategy, while managing most of our key relationships with large clients like Adobe, Oracle and VMware. Our clients like that they can call or text the founder of our company at any time and get a response in minutes. You will usually find me on a client call, putting the finishing touches on a LeadBridge account profile, or talking to my team about a project. I am surrounded by a very sharp group of high producing, heavily invested teammates. I am lucky to spend each day with such creative and fun people who care deeply about the success of our clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We tell stories that break down the landscape and priorities of big companies (prospects), through the lens of an enterprise technology salesperson. Our research and account intelligence content influences the strategy that large software firms use to sell into the Fortune 1000. We craft these stories through highly visual custom account profiles; actionable recommendations, content, infographics and photos to help the aspiring sales person truly understand their prospect and speak their language. We bring this information to life so the sales reps can be relevant and perform at a much higher level when engaging with those accounts.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The rise of account-based marketing (ABM). We are seeing most of our large tech clients embrace ABM, which essentially means treating your top prospects as “markets of one” and personalizing marketing messages and sales strategies to gain traction within that key account. To execute ABM properly, you need a tremendous amount of insight and intelligence on your key prospects, so you can make your messaging more relevant. As a result of this ABM trend, LeadBridge has been growing 30% each year as demand for white-glove, bespoke account insights has skyrocketed.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Trusting my team. Whether it’s editing a client deliverable or just letting them do their job researching accounts, I feel very confident they the people at LeadBridge are intrinsically motivated to get it done right without me looking over their shoulder. I also listen to my team when they talk me out of a bad idea. But if you need to micromanage and double check everything someone does, it’s probably time for you both to part ways.
What advice would you give your younger self?
1.) Listen more. You do not have it all figured out. You have very little life experience; and have not truly experienced adversity, tragedy, success, love, failure. So stop, and listen to people who have been experiencing life for 4-5-6 decades. They have been through the wringer. You’ll learn something.
2.) Don’t take those Star Wars figures out of the package Ricky! They’ll be worth something someday.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I still get print newspapers delivered (WSJ and Boston Globe), and I’ll read them cover to cover. I’ve done this since high school. Something about the actual feel of the paper it’s printed on, and the exposure you get to a wide range of local and national topics that you would never go searching for proactively online. Also, the print newspaper gives you a version of a story- biased or not- that doesn’t erupt into a toxic social media politically driven comment section every time. It’s just a peaceful way to get a bunch of new information, process it and make your own decisions. I enjoy taking it all in – kind of old school.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Love your people. Be aware that you must treat everyone slightly differently. People are not robots. They are individuals with different needs, goals and feelings. Let people know they are doing a good job. Give them flexibility and choice. Laugh with them, and often at yourself. Let them into your inner circle and ask for their input into your ideas. Find some mutual area of interest and cultivate a relationship with your employee that is unique just to them. Make sure they know they are important to you. Don’t just make them feel included – but actually include them. Without great people who are invested, everything else breaks down.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being highly critical of everything we do. Always finding something wrong that could have improved.
I feel once you start to settle, you slip backwards. Pride always comes before a fall. We’re 13+ years as a company and I’m always shaking things up: our process, our products, even our people at times. Being chronically unsatisfied internally has helped us stay ahead of the demands of our high-profile customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Around the time I started the business, I was diagnosed and treated (successfully) for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The next year I lost my infant son who died soon after birth. In both situations, I didn’t seek the right help or counseling. I think as an entrepreneur, you are so focused on survival of your business, especially early on when there is zero safety net, that you drop the ball on your emotional health. As the years have gone by, I’ve tried to do much better in prioritizing the truly important things in life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One idea is to bring back actual humans to replace automated self-checkout lines. Out with these robot scanners at Home Depot and the supermarket; you had your chance and failed miserably. Long live people!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A $100 Visa gift card for a LeadBridge employee who transitioned to a new role and totally crushed it with a monster January. It was great to recognize him in front of his biggest fans – his co-workers.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Smartsheet – – it’s a hosted excel-like product that we use for pretty much everything at LeadBridge. The company just had their IPO, but we’ve been using them forever. We love it and highly recommend.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Predictable Success” written by Les McKeown. Great author I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at several Inc. Magazine conferences. It’s the bible for entrepreneurs who are guiding their companies through rapid growth and grappling with scalability challenges.
What is your favorite quote?
“A good plan – violently executed right now – is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
– General George S. Patton
- Take some action today. Don’t wait until when you think is the best time. Go now, adjust later.
- Enjoy the people you work with. You’re all in this together. Laugh and share success.
- Learn something new every day. Always be exploring. Take chances. Be curious. (We get paid for this!)