Craig Potts: CheckFree Corporation

Fiserv, Inc. is a leading provider of Financial Services technology solutions. Fiserv acquired CheckFree Corporation, a leading provider of financial e-commerce services and products in December 2007 as the two organizations had complementary technology, services and business models. The acquisition enabled Fiserv to deliver a wider range of product and service offerings for customers, as well as provide opportunities for improved growth and enhanced efficiency, including the ability to bring new solutions to market faster.

The Challenge

CheckFree was a founder started and led (Pete Kight) company that went public early in 1997 as a Financial Software and eCommerce billing and payment company. The company survived the dot com bust but did not become profitable until the end of 2004. I was hired in February 2004 before the company was profitable. At the time, the company was experiencing growth issues and was struggling particularly in the area of e-commerce adoption of the online bill payment products. 

I was initially hired as VP Sales by the president of the software division to drive growth and profitability via added process and top-grading of skills in the division. Once the organization acquired CheckFree, I was promoted to run the largest division ($420 million+) of the newly combined Fiserv/CheckFree as Senior VP Sales and Account Management to instill the same practices I created in the software division that drove growth and profitability.

My Role

Senior VP Sales & Account Management (Electronic Payments/Digital Channels)

I was hired at CheckFree Corporation because of my specific expertise in sales and business development in high growth and turnaround companies, which was the result of 30 years of sales experience as a sales management professional at all levels, across both public and private companies. I’ve worked in sales and sales transformation from the ground up, and/or in turnaround situations, with a particular focus on team building and employee buy-in. new growth technology companies and subsidiaries of large public companies, private equity backed and venture backed start-ups and mid-market stage companies.  

The Work

After assessing the organization and market, we established the initial critical action plan to add value in the following areas: (1) top-grade the existing sales organization; (2) create more collaborative sales, marketing, and product management functions; (3) design, develop, and implement a custom “Sales Excellence Methodology” and install a Sales Force automation system (custom and the SF.com); (4) create and implement an effective forecasting and metrics model in sales and business development and marketing for a SaaS high-growth company; (5) significantly enhance current client relationships and grow the revenue base via proper account management principles. 

  • After CheckFree was acquired, I was selected as an executive initial team member that helped transform the 144 companies under Fiserv to “One Fiserv” that would serve our clients and prospects as well as reduce divisions from approximately 70 to 8.
  • Hired and created a high-performing sales engine.
  • Initially created the company’s first “Sales Excellence” methodology model and implemented a custom CRM followed by converting to SF.com.
  • Led $420 million  revenue for online banking application, electronic payment sales and accounts. Focused on sales force metrics managing VAR channels with a matrix of products and services. Reported to Fiserv Chief Sales Officer and President in Digital Payments and managed 70 employees.
  • Chairman’s and “100 percent Club” for seven consecutive years, performing between 115 to 163 percent over goal yearly. 
  • The $111 million new revenue in my division (2009) surpassed the goal by 143 percent in a challenging climate for the banking industry during the financial crisis.
  • As a significant contributor to the transformation of Fiserv after the CheckFree acquisition, I was awarded the “2009 Sales Manager of the Year” by Fiserv CEO Jeffery Yabuki. 
  • Drove rigorous sales training to instill strong, strategic and operational relationships.
  • Managed global treasury and payment software sales and services, and had eight direct reports, with 32 employees overall.
  • Transitioned sales team to consultative sales and defined a methodology from no prior metrics.
The Outcome

After Fiserv acquired CheckFree in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $4.4 billion in December 2007, I spent the next three years working as an integral team member as part of the total transformation of the new Fiserv, working from both a sales standpoint and overall company standpoint. I’m proud to say the strong and stable baselines our team established during my tenure at Fiserv are still all in place today, and as of 2021, Fiserv is valued at $83 billion. 

My contributions working with leadership, people, and by employing a repeatable execution process we successfully transformed Fiserv/CheckFree and the company sales organization by adding a deep, growth-minded playbook across a broad array of sales initiatives, including effectiveness, enablement, strategy, operations, talent management and marketing alignment.

Even a public, e-commerce fast-growth company can benefit from the drive of the entrepreneurial spirit with so many constraints of time, money, and energy. All companies benefit by thinking outside the box and coming up with new, innovative solutions.

––Craig Potts, SVP Sales & Account Management