Mar 2, 2021
Can you imagine creating a company so successful that 95% of Fortune 500 companies purchased your product? In today’s episode, I interviewed Robert Tietjen who helped start a company called PolicyTech, which was the leading global provider of online policy and procedure management software. The company was acquired by NAVEX Global, where Rob served as the vice president of product planning and management.
NAVEX Global is now the largest ethics and compliance software and the largest policy and procedure software in the world. It had 95% of the Fortune 500 as clients. More than 350 higher education institutions are NAVEX clients. It has more than 13 thousand customers and more than 70 million employees are protected by NAVEX.
After NAVEX, Rob was president of Bitesize, a company that joins psychology, mentorship, and technology. Then, Rob co-founded and ran Camtiva, which provided hospitals with a safeguard against improper billing. He now teaches entrepreneurial leadership, management, and strategy at BYU-Idaho.
Here are some successful strategies Rob used to grow his organizations:
PolicyTech, the company that Rob and his brother started, created a niche software, providing clients with online policy and procedure management. This type of software was not on a lot of people's radar, so it was initially hard to get the word out in a credible way. Rob and his brother decided to go to Inc. 5000 and pay for them to evaluate their software. It was worth it. PolicyTech was able to put the Inc. review on their website, and it helped increase credibility and sales. When our products or services don’t have a natural place for people to review them we can find credible organizations such as Inc. 5000 to review them to give our company credibility.
One of Rob’s mentors told him to never give away anything. When a customer wants something like a customer discount, always be prepared to do a quid pro quo. Rob and his associates, when faced with a situation like this, would take some time to think about it and talk about it. Then they would come back to the customer and say, “Yes, we can do this if you do this for us.”
Many customers shared case studies with them. They told Rob how their service impacted their organization with new metrics and much more. Rob’s company could then publish those case studies so other clients could see them. Many clients were also willing to be references that potential clients could call or visit and discuss how this service has worked for them.
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.” -Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
When one of Rob’s companies was doing their website development, analyzing their SEO, and conversion tracking, they found that most people don't go beyond the first page of the website until after they have decided to purchase the product or service. They discovered that it was best to have a simple video explaining their service and the "free trial" or the "buy now" button on the front page. For them, video was the best way to give a description of the service because theirs was kind of a complex service. Rob found that people will watch a video more willingly than they will read a block of text.
Rob’s company nurtured a lot of leads since they had long sales cycles. According to the 2020 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Benchmark Survey by Demand Gen Report, 49% of respondents stated that their lead nurturing strategies need improvement. Rob’s company nurtured their leads by giving them something of value for free. This kept prospective clients interested. The product or service they gave was always related to the job to be done or the clients’ issues. For example, they created an ebook series on how to manage policies and procedures, and each week they would send a portion of the ebook to potential clients. At the bottom of the email, they'd say, “If you're looking to solve even more problems with policy and procedure management, come look here,” where they’d be directed to the company. Rob feels this tactic is highly effective, especially for companies with longer sales cycles.
Nowadays, using a software as a service (SaaS) business model is fairly common and trusted. 73% of organizations indicated nearly all their apps will be SaaS by this year. When Rob first started PolicyTech, this model wasn’t used a lot, and they had a hard time selling the model.
They had to build trust with their clients and prove that the software would work for them. The company eventually told their clients that they could do this software-as-a-service model for a specific amount on an annual basis and that it would fit in the client’s budget. When the clients came back saying they needed proof that the software was going to always be accessible when they needed it, the company had to prove that the software would be up 99.9% of the time and that it wasn’t going to have issues. It was a costly enterprise, but it was worth it.
When Rob was starting PolicyTech, later NAVEX Global, he had some big goals for the company. One goal was to get a large unnamed company as a client. Another was to receive an endorsement from the American Hospital Association. He also had a vision of NAVEX Global being the largest policy and procedure software in the world. The company accomplished all of these goals and more, growing to have 95% of the Fortune 500 as clients.
According to a Goal Setting and Task Performance Study, 90% of people perform better when they have relevant and challenging goals.
In our conversation, Rob and I spoke about retiring. Society tells us that the ultimate goal is to retire, but Rob feels this is a perpetual lie. Rob has become a college professor and has found a lot of happiness and fulfillment in it.
“There is so much more joy in adding value to other people's lives and building them up, more than puttering around the house and going golfing.” - Rob Tietjan
Rob found out quickly that he didn’t want to retire. He found joy in the stress, the work, and especially in the teaching. If we don’t feel ready to retire, there shouldn’t be any shame in it.
It doesn’t have to be about the money either. A lot of people think that having money is associated with being greedy, but money is the rocket fuel that helps propel us to do the things that God wants us to do in our lives. It helps us take care of the things that really matter, such as our family, our health, and our faith. And for Rob, because he successfully monetized businesses, he’s able to teach and make the social contribution that matters to him.
Here are a few of the key takeaways that stood out to me from today’s episode:
If we desire monetization we have never before achieved, we must leverage strategies we have never before implemented. I challenge each of us to pick one thing that resonated with us from today’s episode and implement it to help achieve our monetization goals.
What strategies can you share for growing a successful business? Please join our private Monetization Nation Facebook group and share your insights with other digital monetizers.