What attracted you to the role at Qstream?
Obviously the people and the cool technology! But actually it was the business problem we are solving. I have been in the position of many Sales VPs with large sales teams. I could understand the numbers, the activity, etc. within the CRM system, but what I couldn’t easily understand was the engagement, effectiveness and messaging being delivered to customers by the reps (without physically sitting with the sales reps in meetings -- which I did as much as I could, but its just not scalable with large teams). I wish I’d had Qstream to help me understand my teams better and ensure I was putting my investments in the right places. The coaching tips and analytics Qstream provides for sales managers would have been invaluable to me.
As a veteran of the UK technology market, are there distinct differences between the US and Europe when it comes to sales approaches?
I don’t believe there are significant differences. Customers primarily buy solutions to solve their business problems in most parts of the world now. This has been a significant trend, however, and every sales organization has had to adapt and change to meet their customers’ needs and challenges. Obviously across Europe there are many language and cultural differences that have to be taken into account. But ultimately, if you can show a customer you understand their challenges and can help solve them, you can overcome most other differences. Qstream is building a model of both direct and indirect (channel) sales across Europe as well as other emerging markets, so we can easily handle local language and cultural demands for buyers.
Thinking back over your career, what would you rank as the biggest/most important innovation in sales and/or sales enablement?
I would say it would have to be the mobile phone/device. When I started as a sales rep I would have to find a phone box (remember them?!) and call in to the office for updates on appointments or to process quotes and orders. Now not only can we interact with our customers in real-time, update the CRM system, and demonstrate solutions, but also do our Qstreams while on the move! Mobile devices and the associated communications have shrunk the world, so we can easily talk to customers in different countries from one minute to the next.
Have you had a professional mentor who was especially influential in your career? If yes, what lessons or advice have proven to be most impactful for you?
I have had many mentors over the years, and whilst I have learnt huge amounts from them, I also learn so much from my teams, my customers and my partners. I believe that you are always learning, and our industry is ever changing. The biggest lesson I have learnt over the years, and one I apply to everything I do is focus. Focus on your customer, focus on solving their problems and you won’t go far wrong.
If your sales philosophy were a movie, what would the title be?
Given what I just stated it should be “Focus” (with Will Smith), although the film wasn’t very good! As a keen golfer, perhaps I should say “Tin Cup, ” because it’s OK to fail, as long as you keep trying and give it your best!
What’s the best sales or business book you’ve read this year?
I have just finished reading "The Sales Acceleration Formula, " by Mark Roberge, which is excellent, and I have just started "Team of Teams" by General Stanley McChrystal (a recommendation from Qstream CEO Duncan Lennox).