How did you get into the sales industry?
I studied Information Systems which combines Computer Science and Business, and the best opportunities that presented themselves out of university were sales in San Francisco. The tech market was hot and those who worked hard excelled quickly.
Following five years of pure sales in the Telco space, it was time to advance my career, so I took a job in London opening the European market for a new vertical of an established networking company called Nortel. Europe is the world’s largest single market, but it actually consists of 50 countries that often need to be sold to at the local level. We started in the West out of London and headed East but the traditional approach of hiring sales resources was a slow and expensive process.
So in 2003, I founded Sales Force Europe to add speed and intelligence to the European market entry process, providing sales team outsourcing for tech companies, including lead generation, inside sales and field sales. Since then we have helped more than 250 companies expand to Europe. We have built the leading Sales Engine in Europe consisting of almost 100 Sales Partners located across EMEA.
What does a typical day in your role look like?
My job as CEO is mainly three-fold:
1) Working with new clients who are looking to establish themselves in Europe — I help them define their unique value proposition and create sales planning, establishing KPIs and developing a sustainable business model as we go. Once agreed, we build a team around their sales plan, integrate this team to their existing sales training and processes, and launch the market.
2) Work with existing clients to ensure we are delivering on the sales plan, making adjustments, and offering additional services, such as market expansion, lead generation, content marketing, sales engineering, etc. — basically anything to support the sales process.
3) Work with our in-country teams to ensure we are providing the best sales strategies and sales resources possible.
What do you love about your role?
Sales is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ for any new company. Ideas, strategy, technology, patents, fundraising … these are all exciting elements to growing a business, but if there is no sales, there is no future. I love being at this front end of the business, with the added international element where you must take into account cultural sensitivities, market readiness — are we too early or too late? — competition, technical fit, pricing, positioning, and more. I also love spreading these skills across multiple tech industries which keeps things exciting. Every vertical is different, but the sales fundamentals don’t change.
What qualities/skills does a person need for this role?
There is no secret sauce for a successful sales person, and they come in all shapes and sizes. We look for high energy, integrity, honesty, commitment, strong social and networking skills, experience with specific industries and verticals, both technical and business skills, confidence in their ability to build a new brand or business model, self motivation, and, above all, enjoying doing what they do.
What advice would you give to someone looking to move towards a role like yours?
Develop an understanding of what you like to do, what you are good at, who you like to spend time with, and hone those skills. A person or business can only be great at one thing, at least at the start. So discover what that is and find your place in that industry or vertical.
Do you like a structured environment or one more flexibility? Are you drawn to stability or do you love the potential for big rewards that come with big risks? If you like structure, join a corporation. If you like high risk, join an early-stage startup. If you prefer to leverage your existing sales network for one or more technologies, and relish a high level of independence with moderate balance of risk-reward, then you should come work with us!
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