Penrod
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Chris Widmayer
On Starting A Salesforce Consulting Firm
product
Penrod
from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
started January 2014
2
Founders
65
Employees
1.54M
alexa rank
862
followers
138
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My name is Chris Widmayer, and I’m the CEO of Penrod.

Penrod is a consulting firm focused on digital transformation through the power of Salesforce. We seek long term relationships, are rebellious, and shake up the status quo to help our clients differentiate themselves. We are not the typical consulting experience in the best possible way.

We doubled down on building solutions for medical device companies and payers last year, and we’re continuing to do that. We share Penrod’s thought leadership in this space through Salesforce case studies, blog posts, videos, and more.

We work with specialist clinicians like fertility, behavioral health, and compound pharmacies. We understand the go-to-market needs and pain points of these companies exceptionally well.

One of our key initiatives is building solutions within the vertical. We gather our collective experience over the last seven years and use it to create pre-built solutions that help clients go-to-market quickly. We can then offer our consulting experience to help them make the most of those solutions.

We’ve also added consumer packaged goods (CPG) as a new vertical. My background is CPG and Retail so it feels like home for me. I love marketing and the consumer-facing, branding-focused aspects. Whether a consumer brand sells directly or through retail, they need to be in control of the message - and we’re going to enable that better than anyone else.

on-building-a-custom-salesforce-solutions

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I’m an engineer by nature. That’s perfect for consultation because Penrod solves tough client issues through business engineering to digitally transform their businesses.

The most important thing is to accept hardship, stay resilient, and eventually nurture that into success.

I used to be a consultant but didn’t feel like an engaged stakeholder in my client’s businesses. I wanted to shake up the status quo. I started Penrod to fill what I thought was lacking in the industry - authentic partners who listen and aren’t afraid to unapologetically be themselves.

At Penrod, my goal remains to treat each client as if we were their employees. This helps us hold their success to the highest possible standard.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

When we started five years ago, we were ten gritty employees in one small office. I can think of 3 primary triggers that brought us to where we are today.

First, we won a large deal within the Salesforce ecosystem and Salesforce leadership was watching us. We learned how Salesforce goes to market and we identified more opportunities to co-sell. At that time, we were focused on other ecosystems in addition to Salesforce, but we weren’t seeing co-sell opportunities with those vendors. So, we became Salesforce consultants.

The second significant trigger came in the form of a tough lesson. At one point, we thought diversification meant to take every project, regardless of industry. We went through some difficult times because of that. It became clear that we needed to become vertically focused experts. Starting in the middle of 2018, we became hyper-focused on healthcare & life sciences, and that paid off.

The third trigger was admitting we were consultants. We used to think of ourselves as a software company. We have since embraced being a services company, meaning that we have a “consulting first” mentality. We do not think of ourselves as only “a developer” - we solve tough client issues through consulting and business engineering to digitally transform their businesses. That was hard for me to admit because I’m an engineer.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, we have 65 employees, three offices, a new one planned in Portland, and we’ve made the Inc. 500 two years in a row. We were recently certified by Salesforce as a Healthcare & Life Sciences Master Navigators on the AppExchange. We’re an experienced field services partner - in fact, our IoT streaming demonstrations were featured at Dreamforce this year.

We’re continuing to grow and are looking to double the size of the company this year. It’s been a ride.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I learn from hardship, and resilience is the most important part of entrepreneurship. You go through challenges and face hurdles. The most important thing is to accept hardship, stay resilient, and eventually nurture that into success.

That’s what distinguishes successful businesses from those that fail. Hardship is a learning experience, and the way you react to it defines your destiny.

The special part of Penrod is aligning that mentality to a proven process. If someone makes a mistake, I look at the situation and ask myself if there was malice involved. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there wasn’t. That allows us to look at the situation together in an objective, holistic way to determine root causes. It’s the best way to prevent it from happening again.

The key takeaway is that making mistakes is OK as long as you learn and grow from them. After all, growth is one of our core values.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

It goes without saying that we love the power of Salesforce. We’re students of the sport, so we utilize the entire ecosystem for our internal processes and corporate marketing - Sales Cloud, Pardot, Social Studio, and the list goes on.

We have a mix of remote and on-site employees, so we also use technology to engage the entire Penrod community. In that way, we’re huge advocates of collaboration tools like Slack, Quip, and Google Hangouts.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I love the John Maxwell podcast. It’s a great source of confidence and clarity.

As for books, “Good to Great” is obviously a classic. I’ve learned a lot from “Who” and “No Ego”. In fact, we give every new hire a copy of “No Ego” - the message is vital.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I learn from hardship, and resilience is the most important part of entrepreneurship. You go through challenges and face hurdles. The most important thing is to accept hardship, stay resilient, and eventually nurture that into success.

That’s what distinguishes successful businesses from those that fail. Hardship is a learning experience, and the way you react to it defines your destiny.

The special part of Penrod is aligning that mentality to a proven process. If someone makes a mistake, I look at the situation and ask myself if there was malice involved. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there wasn’t. That allows us to look at the situation together in an objective, holistic way to determine root causes. It’s the best way to prevent it from happening again.

The key takeaway is that making mistakes is OK as long as you learn and grow from them. After all, growth is one of our core values.

Also, be flexible. Processes are important, but they can create too much rigidity in the client relationship, and rigidity lacks authenticity. Flexible means bending, but not breaking. This echoes what I mentioned about pursuing authenticity by becoming a client’s employee and stakeholder. Sometimes successful implementations require us to be flexible, and true partners accommodate clients' needs to ensure their success.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can find a ton of our thought leadership on LinkedIn and Twitter. Learn more about how we approach being Salesforce Consultants on our website. I’d also suggest reading our Salesforce case studies to learn more about the solutions we create and the clients we work with.

-  
Chris Widmayer,   Founder of Penrod

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