NWN's Billion Dollar March

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One of the secrets to fast-growing national solution provider NWN's success is its triple-threat focus on the customer, cutting-edge technology solutions and sales growth.

That cultural charge has led to a meteoric rise to solution provider superstardom, with the Waltham, Mass.-based company growing from $6 million in 2004 to $200 million in 2010 through a combination of both organic growth and savvy acquisitions.

The theme for NWN's annual national sales kickoff meeting this year was: "It's About The Customer!" That battle cry--which CEO Mont Phelps modestly calls the "obvious"--is what makes NWN so successful. It is obvious. But in business, it's often the simple things that are the most difficult.

NWN's mantra means delivering best-in-class ROI and going above and beyond the call of duty for customers caught in an IT stranglehold of tightening budgets and increasing demands. Don't underestimate NWN's focus on doing what it takes to help customers under any and all circumstances.

To drive that point home, the NWN conference this year, as it always does, featured a "war game" sales exercise with an NWN customer judging a request for proposal (RFP) competition. Every NWN employee participates, a measure of how NWN views sales as a collaboration and team sport.

This year's conference also marked the first time that Phelps used the "B" word, as in "billion" dollars in sales. The target is no joke. My bet is NWN will get there sooner than you think given its customer-oriented sales culture and leadership of Phelps and his partner, Managing Director Dr. Jane Linder. Phelps, who likes to use military metaphors, says NWN is focused on "world domination."

It is worth noting that at the heart of NWN's bid for "world domination" is a multivendor approach that gives customers IT solution choices. NWN is one of the top partners of HP, Cisco, EMC and Microsoft. My bet is that as NWN steps up its billion-dollar march, all of those key vendors will prosper.

Anyone who deals with real IT solution sales scenarios knows that customers like choices and will rebuff any move to lock them into a single vendor. NWN has succeeded by focusing not only on the right strategic vendors, but the right solutions and markets. It's no mistake that one of the bright spots for NWN is its smart government practice. And a look at NWN's technical muscle is a case study in solution breadth and depth--from its robust application development arm to its IT staffing capabilities to nCare Managed Services to its video solutions capabilities and data center and virtualization offerings.

The NWN customer focus is not about one-size-fits-all. It's about delivering real-world solutions for real customers with best-in-class ROI. It's about the customer. That's something that anyone in this business would be wise to remember.

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