Not Including IT in Revenue Discussion Can Stifle Growth To marketing leaders IT is more often viewed as a roadblock than an ally. IT is typically thought of as a back-office function focused on governance, security, infrastructure, etc. Rarely is IT...
Not Including IT in Revenue Discussion Can Stifle Growth
To marketing leaders IT is more often viewed as a roadblock than an ally. IT is typically thought of as a back-office function focused on governance, security, infrastructure, etc. Rarely is IT brought into strategic discussions on revenue. This week’s guest Monique Weeks, Vice President of Information Technology at PT Solutions Physical Therapy, comes to the couch to challenge the norm. “Customer experience is what drives revenue, the way that people interact with your brand at every touch point is why they choose to buy, why they choose to stay. There are things that directly impact the customer experience that IT owns.”
Intro: Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one-stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable, and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker, and chief operating officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[00:35] Brandi Starr: Hello everyone, and welcome to the pilot episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host, Brandi Starr, and we have an amazing episode of Revenue Rehab for you today. I am joined by Monique Weeks. She is the Vice President of IT at PT Solutions. Monique is an innovative, results-driven IT leader with over 20 years of experience in Health Information Management. Monique, welcome to Revenue Rehab. Your session begins now.
[01:11] Monique Weeks: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here and looking forward to rehabbing.
[01:17] Brandi Starr: Yes, we don't get a lot of IT folks coming through to the couch, so I am excited to have you. I like to break the ice with a little woosah moment that I like to call 'Buzzword Banishment'.
So we all have the corporate and industry buzzwords. some of them we like, some of them not so much. Tell me what is the one buzzword, that if you could, you'd get rid of it forever?
[01:46] Monique Weeks: It's more of a phrase than a word, but it is a buzzword and it's always used in corporate America and in personal lives too. It's the phrase, 'it is what it is'.
[01:56] Brandi Starr: Oooh! I use that one all the time!
[02:00] Monique Weeks: I'm guilty as well, but when I really thought about that, and I think about our day to day, especially as a person in technology... Um, 'it is what it is', is an invitation to leave it as the status quo. It's an invitation to mediocrity. The way I look at it is if you say 'it is what it is', it's like, nothing we can do about it.
It's like a cop out to me, even though again, I'm guilty and we're all at fault for saying it. But in some cases, especially again, in digital transformation and kind of moving to the next level of any organization. Saying 'it is what it is' and invites it to say, 'you know what? I'm not going to, I'm not going to bother to try to figure out how I can change it.' So that's one of the buzzwords that I don't like.
[02:40] Brandi Starr: We're going to take 'it is what it is.' We're going to ball it up. We're going to put it in the box. We're going to put that on the shelf under lock and key, get rid of it forever. So, now that we've gotten that off our chest, tell me, what brings you to Revenue Rehab today?
[02:58] Monique Weeks: So, I deal with a lot of marketing individuals, sales individuals throughout all of my career at my current company. Basically, I know I want to change the face of technology and how it impacts revenue. I am a strong believer that we have to be at the table in order for things to happen.
[03:17] Brandi Starr: Okay, so I believe in setting intentions to help us focus and give us purpose. It also lets the Revenue Rehab audience know exactly what to expect. So, what are your best hopes for our talk today? Or what would you like to be different coming out of this conversation?
[03:37] Monique Weeks: I really want to fully understand from, from a marketing leader, from a sales leader... I guess if you want to hopefully drive revenue, move the needle, another buzz word - but it's one that I like.
Why, and why aren't you think, why are we thinking along the lines of what has made other industries, whatever your industry might be. If you think of the leading-edge industries, you think of Amazon, if you think of Google... All of them have used technology to bring things to the next level. You think of Amazon web services. If you think of cloud technology and all of those things...
Every industry should think about how they use technology for the next level. I mean, for almost anything you do, there's a mobile app for it. So I really want to understand kind of what stifles growth and what can help us get to the next level electronically, not just in the manual way.
It's not just, 'it is what it is' and let's do what we've always done. I just used it on purpose so we can show how we get rid of it.
[04:38] Brandi Starr: That's an interesting perspective. I've been in marketing now, 20 something years, and... You are right, that in all of the planning conversations, the strategic revenue, you know, how are we going to grow revenue? How are we going to hit these targets? I have never had IT in the room, nor have I ever even thought to bring IT into the picture. Because I think as a marketer, I see it almost as a back office, like all the infrastructure of the company. I think about, you know, the phone systems and these sorts of things.
I don't think about how the IT organization can actually have an impact on what we're trying to do day to day. So, tell me, what do you see as the role of IT in these conversations?
[05:39] Monique Weeks: So, IT definitely has back office functions that we should do. There's day to day operational things that we should do. We should support the business as that foundational, that's what we do. Phones have to work, passwords have to be reset, et cetera. But I do think that technology leaders and the staff that work with us... If they fully understand why that password reset is so important, they'd be more adamant about doing it.
So, whatever that process is, that's happening, that IT is one of my employees likes to call it... We used to be the IT janitors, for lack of a better word. We used to clean up whatever mess, we used to make sure we fixed it after it was broken. But if we understood more about what's the business goal behind whatever that system is, then it will be better energy around making sure that it's working.
Because like right now, there's a, there's an issue with faxes being out right now. I explained to my team why that's so important. Initially they're like, 'why, why's anybody still faxing?' Well, that's how referrals for patients happen. There's a lot that happens and doctor's offices unfortunately may not all have the most leading-edge technology, so they have to do a manual fax.
Now that they understand why it's so urgent, there's some skin in the game to make sure that certain things are working, and it's not just let me have it fixed or let me help him reset this password. Like if we think through and hear at the beginning, at the onset of whatever that problem is that we're trying to solve, we can better resolve things without thinking it's just, uh, it's busy work. So IT definitely needs to become more of an innovator and transforming the business and not just struggling to support the business. That's like the growth trajectory of the new world of IT.
[07:18] Brandi Starr: And I think you hit on a really key point that aligns to what we're talking about often in marketing is the customer experience.
I am a firm believer that at the end of the day, customer experience is what drives revenue. Like the way that people interact with your brand at every touch point is why they choose to buy, why they choose to stay. However, I think what you hit on in that point is there are things that directly impact the customer experience that IT owns that I know I've never really, I mean, you know, I started my career designing for fax machines, so I understand the fax, uh, component of it.
But that is a good point because if those faxes can't come through to get that referral... If I'm someone and I'm in pain and I need to see a physical therapist and you can't get my referral, which means I'm held up from being able to schedule an appointment. That's not a good experience. And I may opt to say, let me take this referral and go, you know, to the mom-and-pop PT, uh, offering down the street.
[08:34] Monique Weeks: Exactly.
[08:35] Brandi Starr: Really interesting there. So, let's say that you get your wish. And, you know, the, the sales kickoff is what a lot of, especially tech companies, but a lot of companies do where marketing and sales come together. They're planning the year, they're focusing on objectives, um, and how they're going to meet those.
Let's say they say, 'okay Monique, we want to have IT represented here at the sales kickoff. We're going to give you 45 minutes in front of the entire sales and marketing organization.' What's your message for them? What do you want to talk about?
[09:15] Monique Weeks: Well, I think I need to be prepped with what are their goals to come out of whatever that sales and marketing meeting is, because I think I've been asked in numerous different roles I've been in, to 'give me your technology roadmap'. And I'm like, 'I cannot give you a technology roadmap, absent of what the business is trying to achieve'. Because all that roadmap is going to be, if I don't know what the business is trying to achieve long-term is 'what are we gonna fix?' So, it's only going to be foundational things which may not be in line with the growth that's expected.
So, if I'm building out a data center or whatever that might be, it'll be based on what I know the business to be right now, as opposed to how I want it to grow. So, in order to prepare my 45 minutes, I need to see the agenda I need to see what else are you trying to achieve, because technology cannot be in a vacuum.
And that's a mistake a lot of companies make where after the fact it's like, 'yeah, so we want to replace this system.' So, what are your requirements? What are you trying to achieve with that system? Like, we need to know that, as opposed to after the fact we find out what you were trying to do, and now we're trying to fix the system. But we don't even know what it was meant to do.
So, in those 45 minutes, I'm hoping that I would be prepped with what's the, what's the goal of the meeting. What are some of the topics? And then from there I would come in and speak to that, speak to how we grow, speak to the infrastructure that's needed, speak to the patient, in my case, the patient and the employee experience.
So, you mentioned the customer experience, but if you think about it. I think I always like to use Chick-fil-A. I always like to use cause there, you know, everybody...
[10:50] Brandi Starr: They're the best...
[10:52] Monique Weeks: They are the best. But you not only notice happy, um, people coming to buy their Chick-fil-A, but the employees are happy too. Right. So, the customer experience has a lot to do with the employee experience.
So, with that, when I come to speak to that marketing, and that sales and marketing group, I want to understand what your sales team is going through. Do they have the right tools in order to attract the referrals or whatever that might be for whatever industry it is? Your marketing team, do they fully understand the patient journey and experience, or the customer journey and experience? And again, do we have the right tools? Are those tools integrated and speaking to each other? Do we have the right data? And the governance around the data is - is a medical record number the same in every one of the systems or do we call it medical record number here and account number here.
Like it's certain things like that that seem like minuscule things, but then at the end of the day, if those things aren't working together, the experience is not working. We're not able to get analytics and reporting out of whatever the data we're getting. So it really just depends on what's the, what's the end? What are we trying to get to?
[11:58] Brandi Starr: Yeah, and that, that source of truth, uh, in terms of data is a key component. And I mean, I definitely say that you are enlightening me because now, mentally I'm kind of going down a rabbit hole. 'Cause I'm like, oh, it's IT that chooses the web conferencing platform that directly impacts what options we have when doing customer proposals.
It's going to be IT that determines what type of laptops we have and whether they're going to have the capacity to do the kind of things that you know, we need to do in sales and marketing. So, I do, you definitely, you know, opened my eyes to what has historically been a little bit of a battle because thinking about it and I will say that, you know, we follow an agile marketing method. Um, and you know, we've had our marketers certified on that approach. That agile approach really started in IT and software development. And so, I do think that marketing is, you know, it's on its way. But fundamentally, most marketing and IT teams work so very differently that it tends to be a battle.
Like there tends to be a bit of friction because marketing is naturally very, um, nimble, in that we have to consistently adapt to whatever's happening in the marketplace. You might've had this plan, but you know, this competitor just did this thing. So it's like, you know, run fast. Whereas IT tends to have, this is what's in our sprints. Like we can get your little thing in our sprint in six months. And is there any lesson that you can think of to give to marketers, especially marketing leaders who are, you know, fielding all the challenges that their team has, in order to better that relationship?
[14:00] Monique Weeks: Well, I can speak for our relationship with my marketing leader, sales and marketing leader at my company. We're closer. Like we're closer than most. We've, we've sat, we've talked about some of the systems that we're implementing. We had a great discussion actually today about how... A lot of times... So with systems period, but I can speak to marketing. A lot of times there's a system that you might want to replace, in the life of whatever it might be. And we had a great conversation about not just replacing with, 'well, I just want to get this one in the 2.0 version', but what's our requirements? What are we trying to achieve with the system? That helps that conversation, that type, that level of kind of transparency around what the goals are of the business.
And educating IT on why this doesn't work, or if we're releasing a new system, educating IT and working, you know, technology, working with marketing, working with the different ancillary departments to fully understand, where's the, where's the bottleneck, where's the gap in whatever system you're using.
I think that lesson learned is making sure that there's always a communication and an open door policy between these organizations and not just, 'it's broken. Can you fix it?' Like it's a lot of that, that's been happening more and more as opposed to understanding why it broke or what does it even do before it starts, before it gets that point.
[15:26] Brandi Starr: Okay, so we need to make IT our BFF, is what it sounds like. Um, so I'm gonna shift gears a little bit. Um, and you know, we talked about like your, you know, the woosah moment of getting rid of a buzzword. Let me bring up another buzzword that drives me crazy about IT, is the RFP. In marketing... Generally we are vetting, you know, all the different solutions that are available in terms of marketing and sales tech. And by the time we involve IT, usually we're pretty settled on this is the thing that we need. But in almost every company that I've worked for, at least every large organization, the response is always, we have to put it out for RFP. Why is that? What, like help, help us marketers understand why we can't just buy what we want? What does it have to go out?
[16:31] Monique Weeks: So I literally had this conversation today. I literally did. This is so like, they, like, you prepped me appropriately. Here's the thing. So right now there's... Okay. Basically the point of going to RFP. For us from an IT perspective, have you looked at the options out there or did you just pick the one that looks at, and when I say that really fully vetting your requirements, right?
Because in the case of you, let's say it's a replacement system and a lot of times you're replacing, you're picking out all the holes in the original system you had, and you're like, I just want to fill these gaps. But what about the stuff? What about the growth? What about where you're going? Not where you've been. What about where you're going?
So if you don't kind of system agnostic. Figure out, what is it I'm trying to achieve? And have a really good list of these are my 15, 20, 50, whatever deal breakers, mandatory things in that system. And these are the kind of desirables and nice to have. If you don't do that, you're getting 2.0 of whatever you had. Right. And you're missing the potential. Because I might want to grow from having a 1000 employees to 4,000 employees, but now I've gotten something that just is going to get me to 1500. It's not going to grow with me. It's not thinking long term.
So if I come up with our requirements, regardless of what I have right now, these are the things that it does. This is what it's missing. And I shoot that out to five organizations as opposed to the one I use and one more. There's potential that I might miss if I don't broaden that scope of what I'm looking for with really firm requirements. Because it's like, I mean, I like to shop, you know, I like to... Whether it's for a car or of course some outfits or whatever, if this is a specific requirement for that trip that I'm packing for, I need to think more broad and long-term about what else is going to happen on that trip.
Now I'm an over packer. So I don't want to over-pack with all the possible requirements. I need to narrow it down, right. To the things that I need. I think it's the same when we're looking for systems. So not just, 'will it work for what I'm trying to do?' Will it work for growth? Can we support it? Is it something that's going to be labor intensive to support and what, basically that's what the RFP is for. It's not just, I know what I don't want, but what do I want? Because the system you have might not even meet all of your needs, but it's, you've dealt with it so you're not looking long-term at the growth and the strategy of the future.
[19:02] Brandi Starr: Okay, so I think we have talked quite a bit about the challenges, but that's only the first step because of course they always say nothing changes if nothing changes.
Um, so we got to do the work to make it work. Um, so in traditional therapy, the therapist is going to give the client some homework, but at Revenue Rehab, I like to flip that on its head. Then, you know, when you know better, you do better. So, can you summarize for our listeners your key takeaways and what one action would you like each of our listeners to take in order to help to better the relationship between marketing sales and IT?
[19:51] Monique Weeks: So, to narrow down into one is tough, but I will say just a few takeaways, a few key takeaways that I want every sales and marketing leader to realize about IT. Yes, we are definitely, technology is definitely here to reset your password, to make sure your phones work. We are here to do that work, that foundational day-to-day operations, we're here for that. So, I kind of got like a phased approach to what IT, uh, uh, immature technology organization looks like versus a mature and how we get there.
So initially we're unstable and struggling to support. We go into firefighter mode, then we're there and we're going to quickly reset that password, et cetera. But as we learn more about how the business works, we really should be, technology should be a trusted operator, a trusted advisor. Optimize the business, but that's with learning.
From there, we become a business partner when it gets more and more mature. So, I am meeting with marketing on a regular basis as a leader of technology. I'm meeting with sales, meeting with HR, meeting with those departments, but the epitome of where we should be, and my key takeaway, is an innovator. We're innovative. We're transforming the business, but we can't transform it if we don't understand it. We can't transform it if we don't understand what your pain points are. So, we can be right there at the table, selecting those systems with you, figuring out how we support them.
And then as a sales and marketing leader, you want our business to become the employer of choice. So, we have the best employees to support our customer. And then we become the provider of whatever it is of choice, whether you're selling chicken sandwiches or you're doing physical therapy. We want happy and informed employees, and customers. That only comes from the ability to have the right solutions at their fingertips to do their job. That's where technology has to play a role. So invite me to the meeting. That's it.
[21:48] Brandi Starr: Okay. So that is our one takeaway. So, to the Revenue Rehab listeners, you have heard it from Monique Weeks, VP of IT at PT Solutions. Your one action item is to invite your head of IT to your next strategic discussion, to hear about what is planned in sales and marketing, what those growth objectives are and how the IT team may be able to support.
Monique, thank you so much for coming to the couch. I have enjoyed chatting with you, uh, but that's all our time for now. Uh, so Revenue Rehab audience. Thank you for listening. Uh, and we will see you next week.
[22:33] Monique Weeks: Thank you!
[00:22:33] Outro: You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over, but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram @revenuerehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week!