Q/A session with Tommy Simon

August 3, 2016 6:07 pm | Updated 2 months ago.

Clients are not someone that we make money from; they are someone we make money for.”

Q1Describe your journey from university to becoming the CEO of TBAA.

A1) After finishing my education, I went to work for a regional EVP at a large consulting company. We expanded and bought 25 companies in a 30-month timeframe. Within my first 5 years, I had worked my way up from regional operations and finance into the role of Corporate Director of Budgeting and Reporting. I left that role to consult with client organizations on IT procurement processes and outsourcing. That is the role where I first learned that I had a passion for sales. I made the move to full-time sales with a Big 4 Global Consulting Firm. Our main focus was large enterprise sales including outsourcing. Later I became a VP of Sales, CEO, and an entrepreneur.

At my core, I am an entrepreneur. That is where my strengths are best utilized. Before creating TBAA, I founded, and later sold, an IT consulting company, created and sold the product rights to a vendor workflow automation product, and worked as the CEO of a holding company, which invested in, advised, and operated startups.

Q2) What is the secret to becoming a fast growing company?

A2)  It is simple, but difficult. You have to find out what a group of people really want and need, and then to give it to them better and faster than anyone else.

The hard part is doing it. The organization needs to identify the defined set of target accounts with the specific need, provide a solution that solves the issue in a uniquely differentiated manner, then they need a clear strategy to reach the targeted accounts with a well-articulated message, all while having a solid financial model to sustain operations. Most of all, you need smart, energized people to execute the plan and deliver the message. If any of these are missing, it will impair and impede success.


Q3) What makes TBAA stand apart?

A3) We investigated different business models and realized that the technology broker model is the best way for us to serve our clients. Our clients didn’t need another consulting firm with deliverable capabilities, but most of them appreciate having someone with experience and knowledge who could help them determine which vendor best delivers a certain type of solution. Because of our 25 years of industry experience, we have a pretty good idea of who does what well. This broker model eliminated the conflict of interest inherent in the normal sales process. We represent our client’s interest, period.

Our clients are typically in the 25mm to 500mm revenue range and the Broker Model makes it easier for them to successfully realize the benefits of Global Delivery, This approach provides lower risk and a better return on their consulting investments.

Q4) How do you attract customers and retain them?

A4)  The answer is simple. Treat them better than anyone else. It took me a while to realize that clients are not someone that we make money from; they are someone we make money for. It is a subtle change, but it has changed my way of doing business from then on.

I started thinking about how I can help clients grow their revenue, improve their profits, commercialize their innovation, or provide them with the contacts, channels, customers or capital they needed. Once I started doing this, it was never hard to retain their business. For that matter, clients would frequently refer me so it was a lot easier getting new clients as well.

Once your mindset changes, then it is just a matter of identifying how you can best help your customers. Some of the ways we help our clients reduce the risk of outsourcing at TBAA are:

  1. Having a global network of hand selected preferred partners that excel at specific solutions.
  2. Having a proven selection process with tools that will provide our clients with an objective analysis of which vendor or software best meets their specific needs and preferences.

Q5) What is important when deciding if and what to outsource?

A5) We get asked this a lot and it is a complicated answer that is unique for every organization. There is a 4 step process I have found helpful to organizations that are in the process of evaluating whether, or what, to outsource.

The process starts with defining the companies “Why”. It is critical to get back to your roots and determine what it is you need to focus on to run your business successfully. We start with answering two questions.

  • Why did the company start? / Why is it in business?
  • Why do your customers care? / Why choose you over all the others?

It is harder to answer these questions than you would think. It often starts many an argument, but after a while, we typically get too down to the real reasons.

After we drill down on the “Whys”, we document processes, tasks, procedures, and reporting that each business unit does. This is the longest step, and it should be a comprehensive list.

In the next step, we go through and identify any item on the list that only the company is uniquely qualified to do. This goes back to your “Whys”. If it is a process that is not directly related to your two “whys”, then chances are it is not something that only you are uniquely qualified to do.

An example of a process that is not a uniquely qualified process would be sorting mail. On the other hand, if you are in the business of demolishing buildings, then the acts of estimating, drawing up the plans, and setting the charges all are probably tasks only the company is uniquely qualified to do. Some process could be argued both ways. For example, and actual sales call, may or may not be, depending on the necessary qualifications need to sell your specific product. After you are through, separate the list into two lists. All uniquely qualified tasks are your core business. Never outsource them. The other list will be all other tasks.

By the way, typically uniquely qualified tasks are somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of all tasks.

The third step is to check the items on the list you believe you can do better and/or cheaper than outsourced companies can. I usually have a column for each. This is usually a pretty quick exercise. Some departments will fight that they can do all things cheaper or better. Be practical but fair.

Then the final step is to go through the remaining task list (the not uniquely qualified), that an outsourced company can do cheaper and better. Those tasks are the low hanging fruit. Outsource them as fast as you can.

Most companies once they start this process, will start to outsource anything that they are not uniquely qualified to do. After they realize the benefits of outsourcing, they soon discover that they probably were overly optimistic about their ability to do normal routine tasks cheaper or better.  Pretty soon all they have left is the core responsibilities that they are uniquely qualified to do. That provides better business focus, improved operations, lower costs, and healthier, happier CEOs.

So I hope I tied that all together at the end. A long answer, but I have found it a very productive exercise.

Q6) How does D2e eco-system add value as an Offshore Outsourcing aggregator?

A6)  TBAA is the Channel Partner in the D2e Eco-system. We leverage D2e to apply their proven processes, tools, and best practices to help select the right vendor or software for our clients. The D2e has a team is not only superbly intelligent, but they are extremely well connected. They help us deliver the right contacts, channels, and capabilities that our clients need to be successful.

The D2e eco-system is growing and with it, the breadth and depth of TBAA services continue to grow too. It is a perfect relationship. We service our clients in the US while D2e fosters the right development partners in India. It is a highly successful formula for client satisfaction.