Building a business always takes effort, but the challenges can actually increase as the size of an organization grows. As most C-level executives know, corporate power is attenuated. That means senior managers must get creative — and be highly informed — if they want to ensure a positive trajectory for their enterprise.
One senior executive who knows this from experience is Joe Propati, COO for Aon Risk Solutions. As a large multinational firm, Aon boasts 500 offices in 120 countries, 72,000 employees and $11.7 billion annual revenue. In the United States alone, Aon has 41 field offices, and Propati is responsible for overseeing the success of all these operations.
Listen to the InsideAnalysis interview with Joe Propati
Aon’s strategy focuses on helping clients mitigate risk in order to prudently invest in new opportunities. To do that effectively, client teams need to stay on top of everything that’s happening, from a national level in appropriate verticals, all the way down to the local scene. This requires a tremendous amount of information — both internal and external.
“We’re dealing with traditionally large multi-nationals, middle market type clients, and even some of the smaller clients. We don’t discriminate. We want to work with every client that needs our solutions, and we’re always interested to find new clients to engage with and grow,” says Propati.
With such a large footprint, Aon needs to ingest vast amounts of data: market data, economic data, news and industry analyses. For years, traditional reporting solutions did the trick. Propati says he would thumb through extensive reports to find useful insights, but the process was time-consuming. Ultimately, the decision was made to find a more dynamic method: Domo.
“About a year ago, we got the opportunity to use the Domo platform,” he said. At first he just gave licenses to his growth leaders around the country. “Then I decided that maybe I should dig deeper into this, which was one of the best things I could have done.” That’s when his conversations with national teams took a sharp turn, and for the better.
“It allowed me to cut through a lot of the data, and cut through to the information that would really help me manage the group. Domo actually allows me to get a view into those offices like I never had before.”
The end result, he said, was a significant transformation in how quickly and effectively he and his team could identify new opportunities, and solve otherwise challenging client issues. Because of Domo, he has a much more comprehensive view of any given office: their opportunities, sales efforts, market reach, areas for potential improvement; the big picture.
That “big picture” view includes looking at areas of growth to facilitate portfolio management. Propati says this involves “looking at our mix of clients at a particular account management, account executive level, and having that account executive tell us where there are opportunities to grow, leveraging a lot of data and information around where the country’s growing. We use what we call ‘heat map data’ to identify where there’s GDP growth, what parts of the country, and how that might affect an individual executive’s portfolio and how they might grow in that.”
Propati notes that Domo has fit quite neatly into Aon’s culture. “We’ve always been a fact based organization. We love data and analytics, but again, sometimes that can be overwhelming. We have so much information that you’ve really got to be able to target that information and turn that into an activity that’s meaningful. That’s where I think Domo does a great job for me.”
Another area of value? Collaboration! In a large organization, no individual needs to carry the weight of the whole sales process. Teamwork can be critical in helping an office that may not be having a great year. By reaching out to other leaders throughout the country, and armed with valuable insights, Propati can now facilitate much deeper cooperation, thus raising the bar.
Part of that involves better sharing of opportunities. Propati said that in some of their more prolific offices, there are major producers who’ve outdone themselves in terms of finding quality prospects. Sometimes, there are so many leads to nurture, that these executives wind up not having time to attend to them all, and instead spend their time focusing on the big deals.
In a conversation just the other day with his San Francisco office, Propati made a suggestion: “You have a lot of account executives who are struggling to find the next opportunity to have a conversation with a client. Why don’t you ask those producers what they have on their desk that they know they’ll never get time to go to, and let’s hand them to some of those other folks and maybe win some of those smaller opportunities.”
This kind of simple managerial suggestion has worked wonders for keeping everyone in the organization more active, more focused. As any sales executive knows, morale is critical to success. By keeping everyone involved — from the senior producers down to the newcomer account executives — Propati can keep momentum rolling from month to month.
All of this dovetails into a critical area of interest for Propati, something that Aon calls “office execution” — a set of best practices for ensuring that the business operates effectively. “We have been looking for ways to become much more disciplined in our approach on how to find our next clients, our next opportunities.” He says the insights he and his team can gather using Domo have been invaluable in helping Aon get back to its first principles of being disciplined throughout the sales process.
All in all, Propati says he’s very pleased with how he and his team have been able to leverage Domo to improve their sales processes. “It’s been a very engaging opportunity for us. I look at is as we’re a very strong, effective growing organization and this can make us just that much more effective.”