Frank Mallozzi is CRO of Electronics For Imaging (EFI) and understands the imaging industry through and through. Having run international business units, with a career taking him across four European regions, and across Japan and Asia, Frank Mallozzi understands the imperative for the Revenue function inside a global business.
In our interview we talk to Frank Mallozzi about how sales and marketing leaders can drive business transformation successfully through acquisition. He explains how success in the Revenue function rests on communicating value and how you position your business in the ecosystem.
Frank Mallozzi says marketers need to articulate to customers their business’ place in the larger ecosystem so customers embrace their brand. He also talks about how to thrive during transformation periods, such as when your company makes multiple acquisitions. In the case of EFI, this came during the transition to digital imaging where EFI expanded by making numerous acquisitions.
With experience as CMO and Head of Sales, Frank Mallozzi brings a clear understanding of the business and the revenue generating functions. EFI acquired 40 companies under Frank’s tenure, and leading these reinventions has kept him passionate about the business.
Frank Mallozzi loves the entrepreneurial spirit at EFI and is proud of what the company built. The following is our interview.
How do you succeed as a CRO?
My responsibilities include ensuring the customer experience is the same across the board, whether a team member is selling hardware, software, a service, or an aftermarket annuity. I create best practices for all the revenue generating business units. I do this by analyzing our portfolio.
The name of the game is data. The key to winning is having the right market data, customer preferences data, software and application data, purchase history information, and service history data.
Print is evolving and changing. Our customers say they want all EFI products to come across as if they come from one company with one approach.
For example, a sales person may be serving one objective, we get to yes and we want to move on. But there are so many other things to talk about. It serves the best interest of the customer when we fully articulate our story and our approach.
We need to articulate and define the ecosystem so our customers understand it, and embrace it.
This is key to our success because we are a high tech company in a traditional industry. We have a disruptive technology that could require other types of products around workflow and digital.
Making sure we have best practices aligned across sales, marketing, services, and even product development is key to success too.
How did EFI reinvent itself over the years?
When I started at the company, we were an OEM parts manufacturing company. We had notable customers including Ricoh, Canon, Sharp, Epson, Minolta, and Xerox.
When you have an OEM structure, development is always important, and your whole go-to-market is outsourced. This means manufacturers touch the customers, not us. For many years we were successful but this became with risk. For example, we didn’t have an annuity stream because the annuity stream for services and add-ons came from partners that are buying the technology from us.
We were two or three steps removed from the customer. So that was a concern for us. We wanted to get closer to the customer and build an annuity stream.
So we started to acquire businesses within our space. We acquired our competitors. That changed our approach, it got us into different segments of the market. Then we got out of our comfort zone. We acquired a software company, hardware companies in different segments, a label company,an industrial print company that supplies products to the construction industry, a textile company, and derivatives of all those companies.
As we were evolving I didn’t have a sales operation team, I didn’t have a channel marketing, go to market, direct sales teams. I had product evangelists and product specialists that would answer product questions and help the channel sell. Everything we have today we built from the ground up.
Here we are 20 years later. We built our sales operations team and our CRM approach. We built corporate marketing, our business systems, compensation plans, built the GTM functions, channel and events teams, all from the ground up. We’re very proud of this.
What advice do you have for someone in a similar position of going through multiple acquisitions?
Branding is so important. We had 42 companies sitting under one brand, so a brand evolution had to happen.
When you acquire a company there’s a stigma, by default the acquiring company is assumed to have all the best practices and will take away the DNA of the acquired company. Embracing the new team is essential. I could tell you over the 20 years of acquiring companies I can still identify different approaches and attitudes of acquired companies that still exist today. Being in tune with that and managing to that is important.
During acquisitions I reviewed how we go to market and our compensation. I looked at every company we acquired and I tried to validate what we were doing was correct by comparison. I would level set it or adapt a change to stay current and maintain best practices.
These were companies with best practices we wanted to adapt, and it was an opportunity to reinvent ourselves in process.
We want to be current and maintain best practices. It’s our culture. We’re nimble by design. That enables us to make changes quickly.
We bought these companies because they were successful, so I wanted to learn what made them successful. The most important is to understand what made them successful and transfer that into best practices for the core business.
Next, making sure the changes you’re looking to implement from those acquisitions is adding value and they’re not just changes for the sake of change. This is so important. EFI truly wanted to know how they would fit in and complement our portfolio.
How do you help customers innovate?
The time we spend in the discovery process and the solutions we propose matters. Technology like digital was an opportunity for print companies and EFI to help transition the market.
You can’t help customers innovate without understanding the market trends and how your company fits in that ecosystem.
For example, personalization is in demand by millennials. So today’s innovations include helping companies personalize packaging in an efficient way. It’s possible with digital imaging and print.
Another example is in the fashion industry. There are now major fashion brands that don’t have the traditional four season terms. Some of them have 3-4 week terms, so they have compressed timelines between design to shelf. And to compete with that you need digital technology to print on fabric, assemble it, and package it in a mode that will serve the market.
We apply digital print to a variety of different use cases to do personalization in a cost effective way. Likewise, short runs of clothing and textiles requires specialized technology because analog technology can’t compete. So this personalization trend is changing how products are made and packaging is printed.
We’ve been doing this for so many years in other segments that it’s second nature for us. But it gives us the know-how to help these other segments transition to digital.
What kind of culture is needed for successful transformation and continuous innovation?
We have a great culture that supports collaboration and transparency. We call it SPRINT. We look for Self-starters, making sure we enable individuals to have an entrepreneurial spirit. We look for Passion in what we’re trying to accomplish. We look for Relationship–builders, people who want to build bridges with our customers, partners, and resellers.
We want to be Innovative around how we go to market, how we collaborate or build a product.
EFI is Nimble. This is one of the most important elements because it allows us to change quickly as the markets change. When you don’t have as many layers it’s easy to be nimble. And lastly, across the C-suite we are Transparent.
The key to success in the C-suite is not sitting in an ivory tower, removed from the customer. We’re very active and involved, so when we make strategic decisions it’s aligned with the market.