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The Ultimate Guide to Turning Professional Services into Scalable Products

Sean Gillispie: Why I am excited to join Vecteris

This past year I turned 40, and my wife and I welcomed our second child. With these significant life milestones, I started to think about where I wanted to take my career next. One of the guiding principles I used was the Japanese concept of ikigai.

 

It is a philosophy about living a meaningful life that is often adapted to career fulfillment by identifying the overlap between what the world needs, what you love, what you are good at, and what you can be paid for. With the guidance of ikigai and many conversations with friends and family, I am excited to join Vecteris, where I will help organizations achieve transformational growth by launching new products.  

 

How did I know about Vecteris?

I got to know Vecteris through multiple prior connections:

  • I joined a Vecteris Product Leaders Peer Group: In 2021, I was in the thick of leading the largest Product Management team in the fastest-growing organization I had ever been a part of. I have some great mentors and am a voracious reader of all things product (including the book Productize by Eisha Armstrong). Still, I recognized that I could benefit from expanding my network of product leaders to discuss real-world problems I faced daily. So when Mark Clauss recommended I join the Vecteris Product Leaders Peer Group with him, I jumped at the opportunity. The Vecteris team, including Sara Meyer, did a fantastic job facilitating the discussions, ensuring the topics were meaningful, and following up with plentiful resources.

 

  • One of my mentors is a Vecteris client: At the end of 2022, I began discussing ideas for the next steps in my career with my inner circle of friends and mentors. I wanted to investigate further the option of transitioning into a consulting role. One of my trusted mentors, Todd Burner, was invaluable in these discussions and asked if I knew about Vecteris as he is a client of theirs. Indeed I did, and his mention reinforced my desire to reach out.

After I reached out to the founders, Eisha and Nicole, to explore if product management consulting would be a good fit, it evolved into the potential to work together.

 

What makes Vecteris great? 

Three key things convinced me Vecteris is an amazing company. 

  • The People and Culture: After talking to the founders, and principal consultants Gaby and Jamie, it was clear that there is something special about this team. Guided by their values of being fearless, generous, inclusive, committed, and creative, I could tell this is a team of highly accomplished people who truly lift each other up. They give each other the confidence to be at their best at work. And they provide the flexibility to be their best at home. For example, when I floated the crazy idea to Eisha that I would also like to write a book one day, I was not met with skepticism. Instead, she genuinely encouraged the idea, and her thoughtful engagement reinforced my energy to pursue this dream. 

 

  • Transformational Work: Working for Vecteris supports my passion for entrepreneurship. We partner with organizations to solve one of their toughest problems: how to continually deliver innovative products that can scale. In addition to helping other services organizations, at Vecteris we drink our own champagne and consistently productize our own services. I am thrilled to be in a highly collaborative role where I can continue to build products and guide others.

 

  • Differentiated Market Position: Although Vecteris helps many types of organizations, we have a proven framework targeted to help B2B services organizations transform how they launch new products. These companies often need the most help because product innovation is not core to the culture.

 

Why does Vecteris resonate with my prior experiences?

The problems Vecteris solves for customers are things I have experienced firsthand as a product leader:  

  • A great product culture sets up scalable growth. One of the first steps Vecteris takes with every client is to craft a strategy to build the right product culture. In the book, Productize, Eisha calls this the “Align” phase. Most recently, as VP of Product & QA at Employee Navigator, I saw first-hand how a strong product culture drove the ability to innovate quickly and stay focused on what was truly most impactful to customers. In the two-and-a-half years I was there; we doubled ARR while growing the staff by only 50%. Customer insights informed a clear company innovation strategy that prevented us from reacting to one-off requests. As a result, customers were confident to invest in the partnership because it was clear the company was focused on critical issues that would support their growth into the future. 

 

  • Productizing services is hard but worth it. Vecteris guides organizations through the full path from the alignment phase through launching and managing the product. While I was Head of Product at CultureIQ, we undertook this very transformation, and I experienced just how challenging it is. CultureIQ acquired CEB’s Workforce Surveys and Analytics (WS&A) business through ParkerGale Capital with a plan to transition the business from highly customized engagements to a standardized SaaS offering and tech-enabled services. To investors, the math of the transition is clear: a services business is typically valued at roughly one times revenue, and a recurring revenue SaaS business can achieve multiples of 4 to 8 times revenue. Beyond the investors, the employees and customers benefit as well. In a highly competitive market, CultureIQ wanted to better leverage its strength (which was strong IP and a deep bench of IO psychologists) to create a uniquely positioned product offering. I felt lucky to have some great partners at ParkerGale, including Cici Zheng, to help set up the customer research and act as a sounding board for how to guide the product transition. Not every organization has partners like ParkerGale, and even still, I would have loved Vecteris’s help. 

 

I am excited to help others navigate the transformation of launching new products by bringing together my prior experience and the proven approaches at Vecteris. I look forward to all the new challenges I’ll face and the new people I’ll get to meet. And for those of you who I already know, I hope we get to reconnect soon, and perhaps there are ways Vecteris could help you. 

 

I would love for you to leave comments if you may need product help, want to share your own story of productizing a service, or share your own story of searching for your ikigai.