The project44 mission is to make supply chains work. The company designs freight-management software that optimizes the movement of products globally, allowing users to track goods in real-time from end to end. The project44 platform offers clients enhanced operational efficiency through streamlined inventory and improved predictability for lead and delivery times.
Based in Chicago, project44 is the world’s largest supply chain logistics and visibility network, operating in over 170 countries and tracking over 1 billion shipments annually.
For project44, the dilemma was maintaining its growth trajectory while an industry-wide spotlight made the demand for precision unprecedented. “After the Covid shutdowns, the Suez Canal disaster and the Ningbo Port shutdown, supply chain resiliency and visibility are top agenda items for every CEO who ships or receives goods,” explains project44’s President of Worldwide Operations Tim Bertrand.
“These large multinational companies don't just operate in one region or one mode of transportation. They want all modes of transportation in every geography around the world. We're still in the early innings of building out all those connections globally,” Bertrand says. “It's a complex problem we're solving, one that's never been solved before.”
project44 went from start-up to unicorn ($1B) in seven years. Rapid growth prioritized the need for improved sales effectiveness. Bertrand explains, “You hit a point where you just can't scale it yourself. I didn't have time to build the tools or conduct workshops. By the time we got to scale, there were hundreds of people in the go-to-market organization and over one hundred quota carriers.”
In late 2021, project44 partnered with Force Management on a multi-year engagement that included Command of the Message® and Command of the Sale®. They added Opportunity Manager®, Force Management’s Salesforce plug-in to assist with adoption and reinforce the new methodologies as they apply to each prospect in their CRM.
Bertrand knew from experience that Force Management’s approach could be revolutionary, but only with buy-in at the highest levels. Getting leadership onboard would change the work from a training event into a company-wide initiative.
“The material, the messaging and the value drivers being created are only as good as the people who work on it,” says Bertrand. “I explained to our team: this is not optional. No skipping meetings, no putting junior people on the project. We put our best people on it and produced our absolute best material. Everybody had to sign off on it. That's a supercritical element to being successful with Force Management. Take it seriously, top-down buy-in, and put your best people on it because you’re creating the assets your team will use going forward.”
“Our team already had tremendous rock stars with tribal knowledge of how to win,” explains Craig Lewis, project44’s Chief Sales Officer. “Force Management helped us capture that tribal knowledge so that everybody has access and is trained on what Force Management calls a Value Framework. This includes everything about our portfolio, tied to use cases, the value levers we hit for customers, our defensible differentiators, how we do it, how we do it better, all in one place and with proof points,” Lewis says, as he holds up a bound copy. “I call it our sales bible.”
The investment paid off – project44 accelerated its growth curve, achieving a valuation of $2.7B just eighteen months after reaching unicorn status. Competitively, the ability to scale through industry-wide transformation constituted a land grab. “Today, we’re as big as our next six competitors combined,” says Lewis.
“There are scenarios where we're commanding a higher price tag than our competition because our customers see us as the right partner for them,” says Lewis. “It's really moving the needle for our sales team.”
Lewis reflected on the mindset shift from compliance to conviction as the Force Management methodology generated results and gained momentum. “At some point, it crosses the top of the mountain and starts rolling downhill. The reps look at each other and say, ‘Hey, if I pay attention to this process and do what I'm being asked to do, I'll close bigger deals, and I'll close 'em faster.’ And the metrics prove it. In the past 12 months, we've reduced our average sales cycle by 19%.”
Opportunity Manager is now built into project44’s cadence and process. Twice a month, managers and reps review top prospects through the lens of the framework embedded in Salesforce. Lewis states, “These 20-minute reviews are succinct, pointed and highly powerful. The salespeople gravitate towards these reviews because it helps them be effective.”
At the beginning of 2023, project44 upgraded to the latest version of Opportunity Manager and purchased additional licenses for senior executives.
Lewis describes how alignment transformed project44, and how developing a common language unified everyone around mutual goals. “Everybody got on the same page across the company and understood what we're here to do and why. Now, when we go to war for our most important campaigns, it isn't just the salesperson and the sales manager in that deal review. It's members of a cross-functional team, including an executive sponsor. There’s a gravitational pull – everybody's motivated to be part of the success of that particular campaign, for the sales team, and most importantly: to deliver for that customer. It's a completely changed dynamic.”