Autotask Putting Feet in the Field to Win Larger Deployments

President/CEO Mark Cattini attributes “handshake events” and field expansion with larger customer deals, along with continued focus on service and quality. By ChannelPro

Mark Cattini is president and CEO of Autotask Corp., provider of hosted IT business management software. At the recent 2013 Autotask Community Live! user conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., he spoke with Michael Siggins, publisher of ChannelPro-SMB. The following is an excerpt of that interview.

ChannelPro-SMB: What have been some effective tactics for bringing bigger companies on board?

Mark Cattini: We're definitely seeing growth in the number of larger customers we sign. At the end of Q1 2013, which is March, we saw a 350 percent increase in the number of deals we closed valued over $25,000 a year.

We believe face-time is important with our customers and prospects. As a team, we're spending more time with our customers and prospects and we're putting more people in different geographies. That allows us to host what we call handshake events, where we meet prospects in the field. For example, if we sign a customer for $60,000 a year, and assuming the customer is going to be a customer for at least five years, that's a $300,000-plus decision. If I'm the CEO of that company, I want to meet the team I'm committing to.

We're currently gaining more new customers internationally than we are in the U.S. We're just getting started in Germany, and that seems like it will be a very significant market for us. Our core market is still the U.S. but I think our international growth helps us compete domestically and internationally because we have a much bigger revenue base now.

In fact, the product release we're offering right now is perhaps the largest engineering project we've had in the company's history. Product quality is continuing to increase, and we continue to focus on services and support. Gaining customers is one thing. Keeping them by keeping them happy is another.

ChannelPro-SMB: Are your new customers new into the market themselves, or are these more veteran companies adopting your tools?

Cattini: Our new customers are primarily veterans in the market. Despite the growth we've seen in size of customers, we still have lots of smaller customers; nothing's changed there.

We are seeing more traction in what we call up market, which includes bigger deployments, deals that have more seats. Some of the interest in more seats is because companies are moving some of their business toward a managed services model and they realize that the technology they have in place is no longer appropriate. We also see interest from bigger businesses that have built their own systems, which most of them tell me was the worst IT decision they ever made. Software is a scale business.

We [also] see companies that never really had any formal business management solutions in place. They may have some spreadsheets and a CRM solution and accounting packages; it is essentially a Frankenstein's monster bolted together that requires too much maintenance.

We're almost at the point, in the U.K. in particular, where if you're in this business and you're looking for a technology platform, you have to evaluate Autotask.

ChannelPro-SMB: You have some new technology partners, like Microsoft. Can you tell me some of the highlights that you're pushing for this year?

Cattini: We're still in the early stages of our relationship with Microsoft. We do have a number of partners whose nerve center is Autotask, and Microsoft wants to understand what that means. They want to understand the ways in which they can partner with us, whether they can put product through us, and so on. We're still in the discovery stage of that relationship. Our other relationships are all active. Continuum is a really good partner; we do a lot of work in the field with them. GFI is a great partner; we do a lot in Europe with them. GFI is well established, particularly in Germany. We also currently integrate with every major accounting package in this space. We also integrate with quoting vendors and do some work in the managed print space.

ChannelPro-SMB: Where do you think all these partners will go along with you over the next year or two?

Cattini: First of all, our goal is to keep our core customer base happy; it's as simple as that. This is a SasS business. Our customers pay us on a monthly basis. If they're no longer happy with us they stop. It's shared risk - it's not the old enterprise days. We've seen a lot of shelfware over the years. That's not what we are. We have to earn our pay every single month. So, from that perspective, we need to earn their business every single month. That means continuing to innovate, continuing to bring meaningful new things to market like we've done, and move the product along.

In addition to that, one area that we do see of real interest is internal IT. Our core market is IT solution providers, but the internal IT market is coming to us. Internal IT needs ITIL, and it's one of the reasons we prioritized ITIL. We would have done it anyway, [but] we prioritized it, from the road map perspective to meet this growing audience. We think we have wide open space in small to midlevel enterprise IT. We're winning customers every single month.