Performance Abstract.

Gene Guhne: Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software is a leading SaaS provider of human capital management (HCM) that delivers HR services and workforce management solutions. Ultimate Software merged with Kronos in 2019 and then became UKG Group, the world's foremost HCM provider.

The Challenge

While Ultimate Software had great success in mid-market and small enterprise organizations, there were opportunities for significant optimization. Although our stock price was growing nicely due to outstanding performance, our biggest deficiency was an inability to penetrate the large enterprise market (at the time, our largest client had 15,000 employees). Analysts had pegged us as a niche player, and the perception investors had was the total addressable market (TAM) was too sophisticated for us. No one believed we had the capability to compete with the bigger players in the enterprise market. My challenge was to break through the glass ceiling and make Ultimate Software a world-class player in the HCM enterprise space. 

My Role

Vice President of Sales, Enterprise Markets

Ultimate Software began as a start-up that provided a white-label payroll product. I jumped on during the early stages, purchased several distributorships and wore all the proverbial hats as I grew the business. Within five years we were generating $10 million in revenue. My distributorships merged with Ultimate Software as part of a June 1998 IPO and I spent the next 20-plus years leading elite, enterprise-focused teams. 

My expertise was in executive sales management in the areas of HCM SaaS, talent and workforce management for midsize and large companies. I was responsible for teams, budget and contract negotiations on multimillion dollar sales. During my tenure, Ultimate Software experienced remarkable year-over-year growth of 20-25 percent for more than 20 years.

The Work

Having worked in the trenches growing my distributorships, I had a unique perspective of the kind of analysis and processes that were required for actionable value creation. We reviewed our organization holistically, then implemented a strong growth strategy to position our company for optimization. We tackled the reorganization in the following ways: 

  • Analyzed organizational operations and identified key areas to create better strategies to call on, negotiate and close mega-clients.  
  • Transformed prospect engagement techniques with high-level, strategy-focused presales consulting, new customer success and implementation methodologies, and technical presales.
  • Improved client service by training our teams to provide a white-glove, concierge-level experience. Updated contracts with the General Counsel to provide service agreements with a more sophisticated scope and accommodation for the large client space.
  • Made structural and strategic changes to our sales methodology that redirected our selling focus to one that understood the needs of Fortune 500 executives, and became a consultative ally to the prospect’s executive team.
The Outcome

In an 18-month period, we successfully transformed our organization and sales team to engage in executive-level negotiations with companies that had more than 150 thousand employees. My teams worked seamlessly at a high level of excellence and we acquired large enterprise organizations such Bloomin Brands (Outback, Flemings, Roys, Carrabas, etc.), CHS health systems, and others. The net result was we succeeded in validating ourselves as a viable and highly-competitive player in the enterprise marketplace, increasing our market cap by over $2 billion dollars in less than two years. 

Ultimate Software’s run from a $30-40 million dollar company at IPO to over $1 billion in revenue by 2018 was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The end result of our efforts was an $11 billion exit that made history in the HCM industry.

When you take on something that is a big paradigm shift, that is, creating intense disruption with the possibility of immense financial reward, you have to have a great CEO behind you—and I did.

—Gene Guhne, VP of Sales for Enterprise Markets‍