Trying to plan in the technology industry is like trying to catch smoke; there are so many moving parts that are constantly changing. The key is to get out there and talk to people so when the winds do shift, we’re in a position to help our customers successfully navigate the change.
My role is to help our team of account executives with whatever they need to do their job, do it well and see great results both for themselves and their customers.
So, while my title may be Director of New Business, from my perspective I work for the account executives. They are the main event, and I am the support act – helping coach, develop and improve their skill set and ability to help our customers. It means that my day to day is defined by what they need from me.
I have two priorities that I stick to religiously. The first is to have breakfast with my son and the second is to listen to an audiobook on the way to work. I’m not a big reader but I love to learn, so the best way for me to absorb knowledge is through listening. Predominantly, I listen to people from the sales ecosystem - from sales development representatives (SDRs) all the way up to chief revenue officers - to learn about the challenges they face, how they’ve overcome them and the tactics they put in place.
I can highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. But perhaps my favorite book, which in fact I have read because there isn’t currently an audiobook of it, is The Qualified Sales Leader: Proven Lessons from a Five Time CRO by John McMahon. If you haven’t read it and are looking for an inspiring read to kick off the New Year, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
From Tel Aviv to New York to Cologne in three weeks – it’s fair to say I travel a lot. And spend far too much time browsing the shops at Heathrow Terminal 5 in the process.
As well as attending exhibitions, I also arrange dinners with customers and meetings with prospective clients. Getting out and speaking to customers and our target audience is invaluable. Understanding what’s important to them, whether that’s to do with infrastructure or not, and how we can help them achieve their goals is what drives our strategy.
I attended an adtech event in Cologne earlier this year and it was through these kinds of conversations that we uncovered a new challenge that had reared its head because of shifting markets. It’s put us in a good position to help customers overcome the issue early on.
When I’m in the office, I work very closely with account executives on qualification or technical discovery calls with new customers and 1-2-1 coaching sessions. I also regularly connect with the marketing team. It’s a new experience for me being part of an integrated sales and marketing team and I am very grateful for the opportunity to develop my understanding of marketing strategies in the technology space. It’s also a huge part of helping our sales team communicate the value that we bring to the market.
The ability to solve problems across various different business landscapes. While each of our verticals have their own unique challenges, all of them are looking at how they can optimize their use of technology. We believe the best way to do that is with the support of humans - human relationships and problem solving. There are limits to where technology can prevail over human interactions and I really enjoy putting together account teams that complement our customers and become an extension of their business.
Developing that partnership is what drives the team and I get a real kick out of seeing our account executives achieve it. Particularly when - like all of us have or will at some point in our career - they have suffered with imposter syndrome. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing them realize that they are in fact good at what they do and they can achieve their goals.
As a business, we verticalize our team so that they can become true experts in their fields. Because my role sits across all teams, ensuring I stay up to date on changes in each of the industries is crucial but challenging. I don’t want to fall into the trap of becoming a jack of all trades but master of none.
Each day, therefore, is about constant education and absorbing as much information as possible to provide valuable insights back to the team and be a resource that they benefit from. And, of course, as the experts I am always learning from them as well.
I have been known to pull the odd birthday prank, which have certainly been memorable for the people on the receiving end, but those stories are probably only suitable to tell over a drink.
So, instead I’ll go for a really genuinely moving moment. We had a work night out earlier this year and I found myself on my own for a minute or two. It was a pause in time where I became aware that I was in a room full of good people, all of whom wanted to achieve the best for each other and their customers. As employee number eight, of our UK team, it was a sudden realization that all of the hard work that had been put into achieving a vision of a workplace where people thrived was paying off. We have created a team of people that believe in what we do and want to go out and make it happen.
I love the moment when all the different pieces of the puzzle fall into place to create a solution for a customer. Whether helping them overcome a challenge or enabling them to become more efficient with their infrastructure, supporting our customers is what it’s all about.
There are so many different elements that need to come together that it can feel like weeks of constant juggling to make sure they all land where they need to. But when they do it’s a huge sense of achievement.
Be confident in your methodology. We spend a long time putting together a strategy for who to focus our attention on, how to generate an initial conversation and then build on that conversation to deliver something that drives true value. It’s inevitable that you will hit a rough patch when executing on that strategy and the tendency in that situation is to adopt a scattergun approach - to go after anyone and everyone in whatever way. That is never going to work and ultimately just creates a vicious cycle of stress and disappointment.
If you’ve put in the work at the beginning to create a strategy that you believe is right, then don’t jump ship too quickly when the going gets tough.
I like to wind down in the evening by cooking. I can get lost for hours creating and experimenting with new dishes. I cook a lot for my little boy as well, batch cooking meals for him with my favorite ingredients.
Once the cooking has done its job and I’m sufficiently relaxed, I then spend the rest of my evening playing Call of Duty and stressing myself out about how I’ll never be as good as Jarrod.
For Lewis, great customer relationships come from not selling but solving; consulting beyond overcoming problems to creating new opportunities. He’s the best cook in the building.