Pem Guerry is the Executive Vice President at SIGNiX, the largest provider of digital signatures in North America. He possesses a wide range of financial, marketing, and technology management experience in the private and public sectors. Previously, Pem served as Assistant Commissioner of finance and administration for Tennessee where he managed the state’s overall technology resources. Before starting his career, he played on a professional tennis tour and traveled the world.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
Pem Guerry talks about his professional background
The early days of SIGNiX as an e-signature platform
Factors that lead to the adoption of e-signatures
The power of key partnerships
How SIGNiX wins its customers and the resulting success stories
KPIs that shows SIGNiX is successfully serving its customers
Pem explains the process of doing an online notarization
Lessons Pem has learned as a leader
In this episode…
As a business, are you looking to adopt digital signatures as a method for signing documents? Where can you go to find simple, secure, and seamless digital signatures?
With the evolution of the business world, companies need effective and efficient ways of doing business. One effective solution includes e-signatures. By helping customers sign any document at any time, organizations increase their chances of success. For these reasons, Pem Guerry shares how they've created a secure, fast, and convenient cloud-based platform that allows digital signatures on any device.
In this episode of The Customer Wins, Richard Walker sits down with Pem Guerry, Executive Vice President at SIGNiX, to discuss how to succeed through digital signatures. Pem talks about the early days of the company, factors that increase the adoption of e-signatures, the KPIs that demonstrate SIGNiX's impact on its customers, and the process of doing an online notarization.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Pem Guerry’s Email: email@example.com
Sponsor for this episode...
This is brought to you by Quik!
At Quik!, we provide forms automation and management solutions for companies seeking to maximize their potential productivity.
Our vision is to become the leading forms automation company by making paperwork the easiest part of every transaction.
Meanwhile, our mission is to help the top firms in the financial industry raise their bottom line by streamlining the customer experience with automated, convenient solutions.
Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.
Richard Walker 0:16
Hi, Rich Walker here host of The Customer Wins where I feature business leaders who describe how their company thrives when their customers win. Today I'm speaking with Pem Guerry, executive vice president at SIGNiX. Today's episode is brought to you by Quik!. At Quik! we provide forms automation solutions for companies looking to maximize efficiency and productivity. Our vision is to become the most compelling forms automation company by making paperwork, the easiest part of every transaction. Go to quikforms.com to learn more. Now, I'd like to introduce Pem Guerry. Prior to starting his career he played on the professional tennis tour and went around the world. He first group interested in digital signatures in the late 90s while responsible for both technology and contracts for the state of Tennessee. He then join SIGNiX the leading digital signature solution in North America in 2002, and has managed development, product strategy, sales and marketing, intellectual property, and customer success. I'm not sure there's anything you didn't do over there. That's amazing. I met Pem back in 2007. And know firsthand how he's helped customers win. So I'm really excited to hear more from Pem. Pem, welcome to The Customer Wins.
Pem Guerry 1:27
Thank you very much. This is a pleasure.
Richard Walker 1:30
Now, if you haven't heard this podcast before I talk with business leaders about their customer experience, how they attract the ideal customer, how they grow their company, and how they help their customers win. Pem, let's take listeners on your journey. Tell me about your company, the role you have today, how long you've been in this role, what you spend your time on?
Pem Guerry 1:48
All right, you mentioned that I first got interested in when I was at the state of Tennessee, and I hated having documents float all over Nashville for contracts to be signed by 15 different people you never knew where it was. And since technology reported to me, why can't we do this electronically? And they said we can't do this. And then I came back to Chattanooga, and there was a company here that had recently acquired that technology. And I said, well, everybody's going to want it as badly as I do. And so I was very quickly on board. Actually, I started doing it partially, as part of my due diligence, I wanted to talk to customers and others and see before I jumped in completely. And then, as you said, I've played a lot of roles here. Usually, I play one until we find somebody who's good at it. And then I take on another challenge. And so I have not been involved with finance, which is where my educational background is. And that's the only area of the company I've never touched.
Richard Walker 3:03
Isn't that funny? I actually got my degree in finance, too. And I leave that to other people. As Executive VP, you must be running different facets of the company. Is there one particular area that is most important to you?
Pem Guerry 3:16
Right now, a lot of my focus is on product. Ways to differentiate yourself, which is often a challenge in the technology world. The research analysts have frequently talked about how we don't differentiate ourselves well enough. So looking at our product, and all aspects of that, whether it's contracting for the product pricing for the product, how it performs the user experience, all of those become important to set yourself apart. And so that's an area that I am putting particular emphasis on right now.
Richard Walker 3:55
Well, no wonder we get along. I love product. Man. I'm trying to understand what the early days of SIGNiX was like. I mean, 20-plus years ago at this point, I know what my company was like, what was that like trying to get adoption?
Pem Guerry 4:08
Oh, my goodness, it started when I jumped on board was because one of the blue crosses said they were moving forward. One of the top three banks in America said they were moving forward. One of the top couple of credit card companies said they were coming on board globally. None of them did. But they all said they were on board. And then each year at first you spent a lot of time trying to convince people of it was legal and the risk was not only not a higher it was lower than most manual efforts. But every year the research analysts would say beginning around 2007 or eight next year is the year of electronic signature. And then the next year they'd say it again. And again. And it was difficult getting the adoption. And most people today have signed something electronically. They understand it, they're used to it. Sometimes they don't worry enough about whether it's going to be legal and whether there's going to be fraud. But it has certainly changed over that long period of time.
Richard Walker 5:29
I actually started demonstrating e-signature to my clients in 2003. I think it was a Topaz e-pad Inc or one of those devices. And I was just using their native software with Adobe PDF. And it was amazing how interested people were yet how reluctant they were to buy it, and use it. And I felt like here's a gold brick, and they say no, like, take it, use it. How did you overcome that? I mean, you've already said those big customers just kept pushing it pushing it, what do you think was the catalyst that made them say, yes, we're going to take this on? How did you do it?
Pem Guerry 6:06
Well, two answers to that. One thing that helped DocuSign is a competitor, obviously. But I can't help but feel that they helped evangelize the industry, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, about E-signature and got many people to use it. Now, a lot of the early use cases were very simple, low value, low risk, both financial and legal value. So it was those who were a lot of that started. But one of the ways that we got our volume to increase more was forming partnerships with other software technology, that create signable documents, such as yourself. And particularly, we like to partner with those that were, it was an important part of their business. If for you, many of your forms need a signature. So you take it seriously, if a company, a big ERP company has one in 10,000 transactions as a signature, they don't care. So that's not where we've pursued it. But we pursued it with in real estate, which was one of the early adopters and became the largest player in real estate by partnering with the largest form provider in real estate. And then as we continued, choose particular industries and to partner with those companies where they're reselling it to their customer base as a capability that helps things continue to grow.
Richard Walker 8:02
I think in the beginning of most companies history's, they have an idea of what they want to do. And they have a specific mindset of how they're going to do it. And at some point, they have an awakening and say, this is what we should be doing to grow the company. So when you said let's go after partners, was that a big challenge internally for you guys to come to that agreement? Or was it a natural thing because they were approaching you? I mean, how did you go through that?
Pem Guerry 8:24
I think initially, we may have fell into it because of meeting, we would go to a conference in a particular industry, and meet other technology providers there and get into conversations with them. And then it just became apparent as a go-to market strategy. It has a lot of value. And so we still, particularly with our remote online notary product, we do a lot of direct sale. But more so in the digital signature, we focus somewhat more energy on building those partnerships and supporting them and making sure they're successful.
Richard Walker 9:11
Yeah. Now I don't know about you, I love entrepreneurs. I've been one my whole life and I love helping other businesses who are starting up try to figure this equation out, like how did you figure out you found the right way to win a customer?
Pem Guerry 9:23
I think our CEO may say it gets down to being relentless. It seems amazing when you read some of the statistics that you often have to contact somebody six to eight times before you get their attention, which I would be irritated long before six or eight but that seems to be a way to succeed and then you had to refine the message and it helped us somewhat. We stand out from our competitors because we're a fundamentally different technology called digital signatures that use digital certificates and public key infrastructure. And that has certain advantages. And almost none of our competitors provide that. And so it embeds the legal evidence in the document so that the document can then be, we can delete it, we don't need to keep a copy, because you have the legal evidence our customer or partner does. And that lowers risk because you've got a smaller risk vector. So some of that began to make us stand out and separate us to a degree from partners, although you have to have enough time to explain that technological difference. You can't put it in a one-bullet ad, people understand that.
Richard Walker 11:03
Yeah, that is one of the challenges of technology and finding the right product market fit. And I do know, I mean, the customers that have chosen, you are looking at risk mitigation. They're saying, we're in financial services, it's not just a contract, hey, we agreed to do business, you're going to come do a project for me, it's, you're going to handle money, you're going to be transferring money to and from accounts, this is a very sensitive thing. So we have to have that trust and those digital certificates, it helped mitigate that risk.
Pem Guerry 11:31
One of my favorite stories ever was the shortest sales close I've ever seen where this was the largest hospital system in the world. And ultimately, our person said to them, because we had said, we can delete our copy of your personal health information and confidential documents, and said, do you want to have one copy of that confidential data on entirely under your control? Or do you want two copies, one of which is entirely outside of your control? And they said, we'll take one. And that was it. That was the end of the close right there. And it just kept growing from there.
Richard Walker 12:19
Nice. Alright, so this is about the customer win, yeah, tell me about a company that you help them with. I mean, you just did. But tell me another one, where there's some metric involved. Maybe you shorten their sales cycle. Maybe you had high adoption? I don't know what it is. I certainly don't with my customers. But I want to hear from you like what is one of the things you're most happy about an achievement from your company and helping customers win.
Pem Guerry 12:45
We try to offer a lot of customer preferences that make flexibility for them. But one recent one that was very satisfying was the FINRA, which is a self-regulatory body for broker-dealers, published a policy 22-18, about the reports they were receiving of financial advisors or their colleagues signing documents improperly. And now, it may not have had any negative intent. It could be the customers or the client said, could you sign this for me, I'm not in front of my PC. So they did, no real harm but that's not what the FINRA would like it to be, or to sign on behalf of your boss or another colleague. And so they provided this report, or this policy bulletin. And then we created out of our extensive audit trail. And if we have to signature one-page document, our audit trails, 35 pages of data about that transaction, and everything you can imagine about the events leading up to that signature. And utilizing that we've created a tool for them to help identify situations without going through 1000s of lines of code of who might have done this and then help them investigate whether indeed it was a problem. It is probably something we can offer very broadly in the broker-dealer industry and potentially others that pick up the same feeling.
Richard Walker 14:43
Oh, that's awesome, because I know talking to broker-dealers, they struggle with how much audit work they have to go through. Those audits are not fun. And I've seen companies take three months off from doing business just to do the audits. So if you're helping them improve their ability to go through an audit as well as just be secure in what they're doing. And that's one of the biggest challenges they have to even adopting e-signature. That's amazing, Pem.
Pem Guerry 15:08
Hopefully it'll work out well, and industry will embrace it.
Richard Walker 15:12
So aside from your success stories, how do you guys at SIGNiX know whether you're having success serving your customers? Well, do you have specific KPIs that you measure and follow consistently or practices you have?
Pem Guerry 15:26
What's interesting is that, and we've got a customer support team that is, it's going to be up to speed and know what that company's problems are, as opposed to somebody that's never dealt with them. So that helps extensive training, a client success manager assigned, but you not only have to help the enterprise, you potentially need to help individual users, which is a heavy burden. But our customer has to be successful in the long term, and their users have to use it, or eventually, they're not going to pay for it anymore, and they're not going to be happy. And so we will have one on one conversations, in particular with the notary space, because that's a bit more complex, a product and a procedure. One on One calls, how can we help you? What's keeping you from doing more transactions, because the convenience of doing a notarization from your desktop, at home or the office versus tracking down a notary plus in addition, it's actually more protection against fraud, than a typical doing it in person. That's not intuitive. But there are more protections we can do online remotely than a notary can do themselves. And so helping them recognize that and just be comfortable using the product in front of their customer. We put an enormous amount of attention on that.
Richard Walker 17:13
Now, I know we can't do a demo, we didn't set this up to do a demo, but I'm personally familiar with how notary works, but I don't know that everybody else is because it's still fairly new to do it online. Tell our audience how the process actually works. Like how do you do an online notarization?
Pem Guerry 17:29
Okay, well, critical elements in doing that. Number one is authenticating who the individual is, making sure it is the person. The signer is indeed the right person. Now, how do you do that, in the normal way is you hold up your driver's license to a notary, who is not a forensic expert as a fake ID or not. And what we ended up doing is a technical analysis of that ID to make sure it has all the qualities of that particular type of ID. So we can be certain that that's a valid ID, then you can look at it next to the person if you want to help. Just so you see that and that it is not only a valid ID, but it belongs to that person, they're going to be asked five out of wallet knowledge-based questions they have to get for right? So that adds protection. The notary has to use a digital signature at the end of the transaction, which makes it impossible for the document to be altered. And it's all done on camera, and how many people would choose being on camera while they're committing fraud? So there's a lot of protections in place to help prevent fraud.
Richard Walker 19:07
Wow, that's awesome. Yeah, I've actually gone through online notary a couple times with a remote mailbox system. And it's nice, because it's all video. It's all just right now, I'm done in a couple of minutes. It's great. It's nice to see that you guys are offering that service. And it's not just e-signature. It's all the tools that you guys have put together. Because again, that's helping customers win. I have customers who are doing notary, and we still need to figure out how do we incorporate that and enable them to do that. So that's great. Hey, I want to switch gears real quick. You've been in business a long time, right? I mean, you've been at SIGNiX for a very long time. I don't know that many people have had such a dedicated, focused career. You must have learned a tremendous amount over this period of time. So can you share with other business leaders who may be watching this a secret or a key lesson that you may have learned that would help them win more customers?
Pem Guerry 19:57
Okay, let's see. 20 years, I've learned a lot of lessons. So let me figure out which ones maybe to share. Part of it is, it is hard work, particularly when you're in an area where it's new, people aren't used to it. And it takes five to 10 years, often for many technologies to take off. So you have to pay attention to the cash and your investors and continue to chess to be stubborn. I learned the competitiveness, probably from tennis so, I just didn't want to give up. And then it is so critical to find that difference in your story that sets you apart. If you're competing on nothing, but price or something like that. That's a problem.
Richard Walker 21:07
Yeah, I relate to that. I thought forms automation would be something everybody's like, yeah, I don't ever want to fill out a form again, give me your software, wasn't like that at all?
Pem Guerry 21:14
No. And I don't know why.
Richard Walker 21:19
And it was the same thing with signature. I kept showing it over and over. I mean, honestly, I don't think I got adoption with signature from 2003 until 2012. I mean, it just took forever for people to adopt. I know my own story. And I really give you a lot of credit for how long you've stuck through this. To get to this point of incredible success that you and the SIGNiX team are having. As we wrap this up, I have one more question. But before I ask, I want to help people connect with you, what is your website or the best way for people to find you?
Pem Guerry 21:50
You can find me signix.com and on LinkedIn, Pem Guerry, and it's pguerry@signixcom. So anyway that suits you, I will find a way to respond.
Richard Walker 22:10
And you do respond. You're very good at that. All right. Here's my last question. Is there a company or a business leader that you admire for how they help their customers win, maybe it's some service you're using? Whatever.
Pem Guerry 22:23
I'll tell you. It's more of an individual. And he's a member of our board, a guy named Marc Butler. He was at Pershing for quite some time. He's president of Skience today, and he uses communication tools so well, dealing with his customers, providing value to others, providing that thought leadership to get you attention. And he's just a very thoughtful leader as well. So I have enormous respect for him.
Richard Walker 23:08
That's great. Pem, thank you so much. I want to thank Pem Guerry, the EVP of SIGNiX for being on this episode of The Customer Wins. I hope you've enjoyed this discussion and will like subscribe and share it. If you or someone you know wants to be a guest on a future episode, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pem, thank you so much for joining me today. It was a pleasure.
Pem Guerry 23:29
Thank you. It sure was.
Thanks for listening to The Customer Wins podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.