Valenco case studies #4 - Alex - Sales leader longing to sell direct
Alex started his career with a telecom equipment company, installing gear sold to wireline and wireless carriers.
The installations were often done in the evenings and nights when the load on networks was low. Since he was single, the hours did not bother him.
Then he met a girl he liked and they tied the knot.
The late and overnight work hours became a strain on the marriage. Alex recognized that it was time to make a change.
Working in daylight
His company encouraged tenured employees to apply for internal positions where they could contribute. He shortlisted a role which required expertise in equipment configuration to support bids for new business.
The knowledge gained from years of putting gear into the ground came handy and Alex was selected for the position.
When working on bids, Alex understood client requirements well and proposed designs and equipment which would work. He would also outline the likely pitfalls and “care to be taken” instructions.
In the second year on the job, he won his first award for the bid of the year.
The award included a week with his wife in sunny Caribbean. Alex felt he had made a good career move.
The head of sales worked with Alex on a few bid responses and was very impressed with his knowledge and ability to think customer first. In Alex he saw the makings of someone who would engage well with clients and win business by earning their trust.
In another shift of roles, Alex was moved into the sales team.
Unsurprisingly, he connected well with prospective clients. They acknowledged that he understood their requirements, knew his equipment, and could be trusted to ensure that what they bought would work.
Alex became very proficient in the technology needs of the communications industry. He also built some deep relationships with service providers and equipment manufacturers earning the respect and ear of those in positions to make decisions.
This trust, industry knowledge, and ability to engage well helped him succeed, and consistently meet or beat his sales quotas.
As business grew, he recruited a team of sales persons. The team grew and so did the business.
A few months ago, he was invited to speak at an industry conference on telecom trends.
As the coach for the soccer team, Alex looked wistfully at his second child and her peers running across the soccer field playing in the rec league.
He misses the time when he too was in the front lines, building relationships, understanding requirements in depth, and working through the lifecycle of a sale. He still meets with clients but for shorter discussions. More of his time is invested with peers and other groups within his employer and in mentoring his team.
He recognizes that he is a good mentor. His team members have grown in capability and done well on their goals. Sales are growing consistently.
Acknowledging the success, Alex’s employer has positioned him as an emerging leader to be groomed for a role in senior management.
He likes the recognition, success, and money which comes with the new role. Last year the family moved into a more upscale area and his younger daughter was enrolled into a private school.
A peer of Alex recently moved to a rapidly growing next generation equipment company. It is hiring salespersons who can handle large regions and multiple pursuits. Still a lean company, there is limited hierarchy, and everyone sells direct. In a combination of cash and stock, the compensation is competitive with what Alex is making today.
Knowing that Alex is reminiscing about the time when he could be more involved with prospective customers, he reached out to ask if Alex would want a role with this company.
Alex liked what he heard – direct engagement with clients, large region, scope to grow, competitive compensation, and in a fast-growing company.
On the other hand, he has invested a lot of years with his current employer, been given opportunities to learn and grow, and is on the leadership track.
While mulling through this decision, he decided to reach out to more industry peers for advice.
As one of them, what would you recommend he do?
1. Adjust his priorities and grow with his current role.
2. Follow his passion and move into a direct client facing role with the new company.
3. Another option.
The advice he received.
By a 2-1 margin the recommendation he received is that he should follow his passion and move to a role which allows him to sell direct.
What did he do?
Alex is mindful of the success he has had with his current employer and the path to senior leadership he sees ahead.
He is also confident that he will make his mark and build a good book of business if he takes a role in the new company.
At some point business there will grow to a level that he will also need to recruit and mentor a team to scale it further.
By making the shift, he will get a few more years of direct sales experience before moving into sales leadership.
Change is inevitable and, in the past, had helped him gain new experiences and knowledge.
Having assimilated the advice from his peer network and his own thoughts, he spoke with his manager about his passion for selling direct.
They agreed that in addition to being a sales leader, Alex will also be the senior salesperson in 2 accounts where a less experienced salesperson is currently deployed. This way, the clients will be serviced better, the salesperson will get more time with her leader, and Alex will get the opportunity again for direct, deeper, and full lifecycle engagement with a couple of customers.
You may also want to read Valenco case study # 3 - Nandan