LogiXML is a business intelligence company that began with a vision about how the web could be used to transform the way people see and use data. In 2000, CTO Arman Eshraghi founded the company to develop technology that would let web developers easily embed compelling data visualizations inside web sites.
Today, LogiXML’s technology supports the BI initiatives of over 1000 companies around the globe that are delivering meaningful information to their employees, partners, and customers.
Simon Ryan, Director of LogiXML EMEA and previously European Sales Director for the business has faced many challenges while growing the EMEA business. From his first sales that was handed to him on a plate, to a career that has a genuine interest in ensuring customer value, and a team of employees that are encouraged to achieve a healthy work life balance.
Speaking to Simon, there is a real passion for ensuring that the business only supplies to customers that will get real value from the product and services they offer. Whereas many Sales Directors would also claim the same type of diligent qualification, a question often asked of the sales profession would be how easily a prospect could be dropped if the supplier can’t really achieve the client’s expectations?
"I am a strong believer in giving the customer what they actually need, not what they necessarily think they need” says Simon “For example, I would rather not sell to a customer who would obtain no value in the product I am selling than make a quick sale and ultimately have an unhappy customer”.
Considering Simon’s career path has taken him to a role as European Sales Director and now Director for EMEA, he didn’t have any real ambitions for a career in sales, in fact it was someone else who encouraged his future path.
“I worked in the city for an information company in their customer service department after leaving full time education. My duties mainly covered product installation and training but I quickly found myself spending time upselling additional modules. My progress was noticed by the Sales Director who approached me and asked if I would like to transfer into a sales role.
My very first sale, if I am honest, was a set up to boost my confidence. My Sales Director asked me to go to a meeting he couldn’t attend and close an order. I walked out with my very first deal. What I didn’t realise at the time was that he had already done all the leg work and the order was assured. I just needed to literally pick up the paperwork. However, it was a huge boost to my confidence and set me off on the sales career path”.
Obviously his career has not always been plain sailing, some reality checks, and setbacks have driven a mentality that drives good sales behaviour. Simon’s philosophy seems to lean towards a preference to service client over the corporate ladder’
“I have been taught many lessons along the way. First of all I now appreciate that I don’t know it all! In the early days I thought I did and made many mistakes. It has only been through experience that I have built up my knowledge and realised that actually I knew nothing back then and am still learning to this day. I think that my biggest career mistake has been that I am not the corporate ‘yes man’ who is required to climb the corporate ladder.
Given this career journey, Simon also has advice for anyone considering sales as a profession; “Be prepared for rejection! This doesn’t just mean in your work but also in your life in general. You need to develop a thick skin to succeed in a sales environment. You will receive a lot of rejection along the way but you must believe in yourself and the products you sell. Don’t take anything too personally and don’t take anything, including yourself, too seriously”.
This rejection can of course be mitigated through good sales technique, where Simon has also highlighted the importance of qualification as part of the sales process, perhaps the key to making good use of sales time.
“Get to the point - understand how to quickly and succinctly qualify your opportunities, don’t spend time on sales engagements where there is a low chance of winning. Make sure you understand people’s pain so you can fit the solution to their requirements.
Looking forward, LogiXML are looking to build and maintain their fantastic growth in the region, this of course presents challenges for any Sales Director as the danger of becoming victims of their own success looms over
“2012 has, so far, been a year with phenomenal growth at LogiXML International and I need to continue that momentum. We have aggressive targets to meet and a fairly new team that is required to meet them.
And to achieve these targets; “I need to ensure that the team are brought up to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am very proud of the team that we have created here and I urge everyone to work together and provide each other with the tools, resources and support they need to ensure they succeed. I strongly believe that encouraging them to look out for each other builds and boosts morale and provides a strong team who will get the job done”.
Scott also describes the kind of attributed that could result in failure and his own frustration with some poor sales practice that damages the whole profession, but these are perhaps good life skills s well as good sales practice.
“I can’t abide bullies and unreasonable behaviour, I also hate people who talk too much or who interrupt other people when they are talking. I think that perhaps one misconception about our profession is that we can be seen as bullies. This is another reason why I believe strongly in understanding the customer’s needs and only selling to them if the solution really will solve their pain. I am also frustrated by those in our profession who take themselves too seriously or who have a lack of urgency in what they do”.
To achieve growth, Simon points out the importance of driving customer need, integrity and ethics in ensuring the business can deliver a return as well as the importance of qualification. However, he also points to the importance of work life balance to be able to run productive sales operations.
“I love my work but I don’t consider myself a workaholic, I believe in a good balance between the two. I enjoy the odd round of golf, which is my escape from the real world, and I spend as much time with my family as I can. I encourage my staff - and myself - to take time to wind down. This is why I encourage them to take their holidays and get away from the daily domination of work.