Ron Halversen - The Web Development Consultant Your Business Needs To Get To The Next Level - Clarity Ventures, Inc.
Self-appointed leaders in the tech space are a dime a dozen. Nothing turns off the interest in a room more than some tech grandstanding how great they are. We get it, you're smart, your name is associated with phenomenal projects, and you want everyone to know.
And then there are others that just do.
In my travels and meetings with various companies, I about the up-and-comers, those to listen to, those to hire, those who are trusted. And a name kept coming up over and over. In different cities. In different states.
I reached out to Mr. Halversen to find out what made him tick. Where his leadership ability stemmed from. The following is just a short piece of the interview with Ron.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? In what ways does that relate to what you do now?
From a very young age, I wanted to be an architect. I would design houses with crazy layouts, revolving doors, theaters, indoor pools and more, which in the ’60s and ’70s wasn’t a thing yet. I was able to design and have my first client’s home built when I was 14. It was fun riding my bike onsite as the architect. I then designed a 300-home planned community when I was 16. It solidified for me the desire to work where I can design and create.
While being an architect, in the traditional form, did not occur for me, it laid the framework for me to design and implement strategic designs, starting with WordPerfect, and their company-wide email platform, to give me the edge in an industry which often lacked the creative vision I have.
What steps do you take to ensure that your organization’s activities are in alignment with the company mission, core values, and vision?
It starts in two places. The first is how the management team focuses on the company culture. At Clarity Ventures, we hire, train, work and play all toward building a specific culture. Our people feel their worth, and in turn, want to succeed through their work.
The second is ensuring that we’re a good fit for every project we take on. We’ve successfully launched over 1,300 web portals, eCommerce sites, mobile apps and 3,000 integrations in just under 13 years. We have several partners that we pass projects to if it’s a better fit for them than for us. We put the customer's needs above our own which is rare in our industry. The path to success starts with setting yourself up for success, and that includes focusing that which you excel.
Name two organizations or well-known business people you admire and explain why.
My admiration comes from two people: The original CEO of WordPerfect, Alan Ashton and Jan Newman, the original CEO of Altiris, both for the same reason. They loved their companies. They treated their employees like family. Every hire, every employee, every decision was made with their heart first, not with money.
They inspired success. As an employee, I worked hard for them, and I was not alone because so many did as well. Not for the salary, but because of the love and respect showed by management. When Ashton was prepping WordPerfect for acquisition, he knew that they had to trim and lay off a lot of people. Letting loyal people go is difficult, regardless of the time or place. Ashton couldn’t do it, so he took an option no one saw coming. Ashton stepped down as CEO of the company he co-founded and ran for 15 years, so he wouldn’t have to lay off people who he referred to as, “friends and family.”
The experience with Altiris was similar. The CEO embraced the employees as family and did everything he could in his power to ensure the loyal employees received the recognition and rewards they deserved.
I loved and admired those two influential leaders. They both understood that building a successful business involved surrounding yourself with people that cared about you and the company just like you did. They exemplified respect and loyalty, and their reward wasn't just financial, but in the forged great relationships. I had the unique pleasure of working for them and would happily do so again.
What are YOUR leading performance indicators? How are they measured and echoed throughout the business?
It is often challenging to provide a solution or service that’s technically a match for every business in every industry. Every company has a website and software to “run” their business, whether it is an ERP, CRM or even just Quickbooks.
Also, almost every company conducts business on the internet. So what and who do you market to exactly? That’s our biggest challenge here at Clarity Ventures, so I have to personally get creative with my marketing strategies and what I measure for the performance metrics not just for Clarity Ventures, but for our clients as well.
In every organization I’ve been associated with, I’ve seen the measurement of close rates, and the close ratio is the key metric (there are many others we look at weekly, but this is the most important). My small sales team excels in handling all inbound leads, qualifying out any that aren’t a good fit, then slotting them in two buckets.
Bucket One: If the project is $25,000 or less, they handle the needs analysis, demo, and closing of those deals. I don’t measure those.
Bucket Two: If they’re over $25k, then I get involved, doing the analysis, consulting and solutions demo. I’ve tracked my close ratio for those deals now for seven years, and it’s been 56%. From my experience, not many can claim that high rate of success.
I also used to measure the percentage of deals that we lost to different reasons (i.e., 35% due to price, etc.). I stopped tracking those. Why? I only concern myself if we lost a deal due to something we did wrong on our end or if there is a new competitor in the mix.
I can achieve this high rate of closure, as I not only understand our products and technology better than anyone, but I take the time to understand the needs of the client and ensure that the solution I offer is the best solution FOR THEM and not the best solution for me.
Bypassing commissions, bonuses, etc. for the betterment of a client has been my focus since I began my career as I believe in long-term relationships. My grandfather taught me well that by bringing on the right clients with the right solution, will be beneficial to them and me over the long-term.
And THAT is why I am as driven as I am.
What are your top three priorities for the business?
The first is customer service, without a doubt. Your business and reputation is a combination of what you do and how you take care of your clients. I take care of my clients as if they were the most important because they are.
We’ve tracked and focused on repeat business heavily over the last five years, and we were excited as we saw how it became a side product of our fantastic customer service. I recall from my WordPerfect days, executives complaining about the expense of customer service and tech support, but that is what landed us on the map!
At Clarity Ventures, we started bringing in new accounts, from employees that had worked with us when employed with other businesses we had worked with. This process was paramount as we were receiving leads and recommendations from places we did not expect.
The second is to carefully and strategically design and build solutions that last. Since our eCommerce and integration platforms are our intellectual property, at the end of the day, those are what dictate what we’re worth as a company. Build something worth something.
Finally, it’s important to “feed the engine.” There is no Clarity Ventures if we aren’t bringing in deals regularly. We focus on the channels and avenues that bring us both awareness and prospects.
How do you fight complacency and mediocrity?
We track down the reason for every deal that we didn’t win. We then evaluate those against the business decisions that we’ve made and are making. Some things you can’t change (i.e., sell more at a lower rate).
In my experience, when you give a company a "deal" for your services, they tend to be the biggest complainer. However, when you properly vet a client, and they agree to the price, the complaints are minimal, if at all. That is because we have brought in the right client and they understand proper expectations and what is expected from them and us.
We never excuse the value of “value.” No one expects to buy a Lexus for the price of a Toyota Corolla, even though they’re products of the same entity and both thought of as high quality. There’s a significant difference in value between the two, and it’s both visible and measurable.
The challenge is being able to demonstrate that value, which is what we do. We are not an off-the-shelf product that can be lightly customized, as almost all our competitors. We built our solutions as development platforms, starting with a robust API, and adding on modules that each provides functionality. What we have then is like a set of Legos or an erector set. It allows us to build anything custom (patient portal, B2B marketplace, ERP integration, mobile app, etc.) our clients need for the same price. It’s just a different set of Legos, but it allows us to highly customize our solutions to match exactly what our clients need, both providing amazing web solutions, as well as providing a platform that is designed to grow, morph and change as our clients’ businesses grow, morph and change. Our design is to be the last platform that they’ll need to buy.
What has been the most impactful lesson you’ve learned as a business leader?
I’ve been in some form of management position now for over 30 years, one thing I have learned organically, early on, led me to hire and manage successful, high-performance teams. When asked about it, I really couldn’t explain what I was doing. It was, “mostly a gut instinct...” or something like that.
Then one day, during an MBA class study session, I read about building high-performing teams, and they used a term called, “Effective Followers.” An Effective Follower is a follower who can lead. What a simple explanation for what I had done for years, but couldn’t quite put my finger on a decent answer.
Hire leaders that can take direction, then set them free. Instead of you leading one boat, trying to get everyone to row in the same direction, get many more leaders, leading their boats all rowing in the same direction. Expand your influence through empowering those you trust to lead in your stead.
What’s the most critical piece of business management and leadership advice you would give your younger self?
B+ work is okay at first. For a perfectionist who got straight A’s, that's a hard lesson. I always tried to design and build perfect results for my clients, often spending way more time than was paid for. Most times the clients would love and praise the deliverable, but then they would invariably ask, “Can we customize this and that? Can we change this color to that color?” All things that were simple and easy, but to me felt like they were, “calling my baby ugly.”
After all, I had produced the perfect result. How could they possibly want to change it? The thing was though that it wasn’t “my baby.” It was theirs, and they had their ideas of what they wanted. Although I did a great job, it wasn’t perfect in their eyes. They needed to put their stamp and their ideas on it. So now, often in my projects, I show unfinished work (or B+ work as I refer to it) to the client, long before getting approval, so they have the opportunity to provide their feedback and ideas during the construction and design phases, which I can then incorporate into their final product. Making them a part of the equation is the key to a successful deliverable.
How do you create leadership opportunities within the organization?
As I mentioned before about Effective Followers, I don’t have to. I’ve already surrounded myself with natural leaders that I trust. Those types of people make their success, sometimes carving paths where we never thought paths existed. Bright minds bring bright thoughts if left to believe and think.
About Clarity Ventures, Inc.
Experienced, Highly Capable Developers with Great Ideas and Exceptional Execution
You need web design, development, apps, custom programming and complete integration into your business. This takes professionals who know what they're doing and get the job done right and on time. Every time, without exception.
That's the track record the team at Clarity has earned for more than a decade. Countless clients have been impressed by our unmatched ability to solve difficult problems with proven solutions and inspired creativity. Working with Clarity is the surefire fast track to design, development, B2B eCommerce, and Integration that puts your business miles ahead of your competition.
Consulting For Results
As one of the leading consulting firms in the nation, you can rely on our experts to make management, development, and implementation of web-based technologies much easier and more successful. Instead of stepping your way to greater achievement, Clarity helps you dominate your market by leaps and bounds.
We use the latest tools and technologies combined with years of experience at the highest levels. You get superior service at a cost that meets your budget. This is the best way to quickly meet your goals, attain difficult dreams, and dramatically move your business toward better sales, higher customer acceptance, and steadily rising profits.
Inspired eCommerce that Works
Clarity designs custom marketplaces that give you all the standard and unique functionality you need to impress customers and grab more sales. While competitors are struggling with sites that glitch, drop orders, and frustrated consumers, your storefront will operate smoothly, anticipate every customer need, and inspire a steady flow of new and repeat sales.
VP of marketing and sales, Ron Halversen, has decades of experience here at Clarity and some of America's most respected brands. His office can work with you to learn exactly what you need and answer all your questions.
Get started with Clarity to make your business and life a lot easier and more successful.