EPISODE 025: Henry Sienkiewicz, Observations from a Highly Successful CIO Now Rocking It As a Chief Revenue Officer
Henry Sienkiewicz is an author who more recently became the chief revenue and innovation officer for Secure Channels, an authentication and encryption company based in Orange County, CA, with an office in Virginia and global development teams.
His most recent book, The Art of Cyber Conflict, is an unclassified doctrinal piece designed to help organizations think about the cyber problem. However, most people in the technology industry know him as either the chief information officer and cyber guy at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) or as a former corporate officer at the Airline Tariff Publishing Company.
Henry’s career has been highlighted by his ability to gracefully introduce disruptive technologies into complex organizations.
Find Henry on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Henry, let’s change the game. Fill in some of the blanks and tell us more about you that we need to know.
Henry Sienkiewicz: Fred, first and foremost, thank you for having me here. You and the Institute have done some great things over the years and that ability to communicate the value proposition of sales and business development has been excellent. I’m just completely impressed on how you have been able to help change its game, and I think you’re trying to make sure that the rest of the industry’s able to step up and really create value from the sales and marketing teams out to their respective organizations. So again, thank you very much for having me here.
Fred Diamond: Absolutely. Your background’s a little bit different than that of most of the people we’ve been interviewing for the Sales Game Changers podcast. But I was excited to talk to you because I think you’ll have some interesting angles on information and how selling professionals can take their careers to the next level.
Henry Sienkiewicz: I think every person in every organization has a sales role. Quite frankly, if they are in a for-profit company and they are not going out there trying to understand what their customers are doing, what their customers’ needs are, they are completely wrong. Every sales professional needs to understand that your role is to be able to go there, communicate the value from the customer but at the same time make sure your management and everyone in that support team—your CFO, your logistics guys, and your product development guys—understands the tie between sales and the actual company itself. If you guys aren’t out there selling, there’s no money coming in the door, and if there isn’t any money coming in the door, you’re not a company. You’re just a little project, and that’s not what we’re all here for.
Fred Diamond: What exactly do you sell today and what excites you about that?
Henry Sienkiewicz: I joined Secure Channels a short time ago because they have a fascinating series of products focused on super-encryption, focused on how do we go there and protect the end user and protect the corporation, its file structure, and provide real value in a seamless fashion that can be integrated into a larger enterprise. That goes back to what you had indicated from my career track, which is finding products that could be gracefully integrated into large organizations.
Fred Diamond: Your title is chief revenue officer. Tell us what that means.
Henry Sienkiewicz: It means that my job is to figure out the business model, figure out the go-to-market strategy, and work with the sales team to make sure that we can actually execute on it. The nicest part about where I’m at right now is that we do have a model and we do have really good products that are about to be launched into the marketplace later this year. My job is to make sure that that market launch goes well, and I can’t do that without my marketing and sales team with me.
Fred Diamond: That’s interesting because the chief revenue officer title is one that’s relatively new. We did a poll of some industry experts to ask them, “The CRO title: Is it a sales title or is it a marketing title?” and there seems to be a lot of fuzziness out there. But I like the way you recognized that your job is to assist the sales organization in achieving its goals.
Henry Sienkiewicz: If it’s for-profit, you have to understand what drives revenue, and it’s sales and marketing that drive the revenue stream. You can have the greatest products in the world—in a previous software start-up I had great products, but we didn’t have a revenue model that made sense. You look at it and you say, “Okay, what makes sense? What’s that value proposition from the individual? There are respective organizations and how do we go there and sell it out to the marketplace?”
Fred Diamond: What is the most important thing you want to get across to junior selling professionals to help them improve their career?
Henry Sienkiewicz: There are a few things. I think first and foremost is listen. Listen to your customers. Listen to those mentors around you. Find someone you respect in the industry, and ask them for advice, and listen to that advice. Listen to the things that are bothering your financial team, your product team, as well as your management team. Sorry, because you have to sell not just up and down. You have to sell left and right.
It is a continual cycle of listening to all the people who are in your environment to achieve the effect you want. The other part is make sure that you believe in what you’re selling. Too many times you’ll see people showing up into the marketplace and saying, “Here’s my order book. What can I do for you? How can you just fill it out?”
The government guys you may be selling to… have seen too many junior people come and go. The questions become “Are you going to have something that resonates with them?”, “Are they going to believe that you’re going to be there for a while?” and “Do they believe you?” because you’re also selling yourself as part of this.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What are some of the things you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Henry Sienkiewicz: You mean above and beyond making sure I look at all the books from the authors and the speakers you’ve had in your series, Fred, above and beyond that?
Fred Diamond: Above and beyond that.
Henry Sienkiewicz: At my Defense Department career, I was the guy who introduced cloud computing to the Defense Department. You can look at all the Google, YouTube stuff and you’ll see me speaking a whole bunch on the topic. For the early adopting of some of the cyber stuff, I guess I’ve been truly in the middle of it all. As the DISA cyber guy, I was the accreditor. I was the one personally liable for the security posture for vast watches of the Defense Department, including the White House Communications Agency. I’ve been really lucky to have been put into positions where I’ve been able to see where the market is going.
But it’s also by listening to, again, those people around me. I’m hearing where the customers are going, watching where the millennials are going with the way they consume this information technology because they’re going to be the marketplace of the future. I still remember the first day I saw a web browser. It was in the early ’90s, and one of my NCOs, one of my sergeants, dropped this thing on my computer, and he said, “Hey, sir, take a look at this.” And first of all, he should’ve never installed the software anyway. That goes back to “Boy, the world has changed.”
But it was a copy of a Mosaic 1.0. It was the first browser, and you realize at that point in time the game had changed. So you listen and you watch and you look for some of those outliers to understand where the market is going. My advice to people entering the sales profession is that: Listen and watch what your colleagues are doing, and you should be able to help spot where those trends are and move your career into those trends.
I still distinctly remember one young salesperson, who’s become a good friend. I think I have mentored him now for the past decade. We talked in the late ’00s about “Okay, you need to move into cyber.” He has now spent his career and has done exceptionally well because he has been selling cyber stuff.
Fred Diamond: What’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Henry Sienkiewicz: I’m fascinated with this product launch that Secure Channels will be doing later this year. We’ve got a whole series of really fascinating—and I don’t use that word lightly—fascinating encryption authentication stuff to be slid into enterprise environments. I really try to stay away from the term “game-changing technology,” but it’s as close as I’ve seen in the authentication and encryption space. And again, I’ve watched a lot of it over the years. My focus for the next few months is going to be making sure that we have a smooth, clean product rollout. I’m lucky because we’ve got a great development team here. We’ve got a great sales marketing team and support out in Orange County, so it looks like we should be able to hit the market pretty darn hard.
Fred Diamond: Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that keeps you going?
Henry Sienkiewicz: Let’s talk about that lack of callback and stuff. I was a CIO in the airline industry for six years. Whenever I would call people, people would return my calls. They’d send the emails back pretty quickly. I left the company just because my career had changed. The company itself is still just one of these rock-solid places.
A few weeks later [after switching companies] I’d send the similar email to the exact same people, and the response was “Oh.” I would get an email back maybe two or three weeks later… At that point in time you do truly understand what your network looks like and who is valuable in your network. If you believe in that product and you see the market and you see the need, just persevere.
You will not get everyone to return your phone calls all the time. I mean, most of us never do. But at the same time, if it’s something of value, you should be able to continue to go forward and press the customers and press the organizations. The problem becomes that at times you might have the right product but you might have the wrong time. You might have the right time but the slightly wrong product. The question is, how do you as salesperson make sure that the mix is doing exactly what it needs to do to get into your approachable market?
Fred Diamond: We’re talking today on the Sales Game Changers Podcast with Henry Sienkiewicz. Henry’s had a nontraditional role in sales but has given some really insightful ideas for sales professionals on how to take their career to the next level, how to persist, how to be passionate, how to understand your technology and your offering, and how to truly bring value to your customer. Henry, this has been a fascinating conversation. I really appreciate your insights. Give us one final thought to inspire our sales professionals listening in today.
Henry Sienkiewicz: Enjoy yourself, this is fun, and make it a career and enjoy the passion of doing this because especially on the technology sales stuff, it is transformational for the world.