As I thought about writing this post about my average day, I was reminded of something my manager told me when I started my first sales job as a college graduate. “It’s the people man, I love the people,” he said when I asked him what motivated him to work so hard. The “people” he was referring to weren’t just his direct reports or people on his team, but the entire company, the entire industry, and most importantly, the customer!
I have thought about my manager’s statement often over the years, because I began to feel the reputation of the sales professional eroding through years of callousness. Trust had been betrayed by gimmicks and techniques (often automated) designed to “ping” or “touch” customers or prospects with ferocious frequency. These passive efforts to connect often encourage interactions that are cold, and valueless. Sales teams in these environments do not care (or cannot) care about their customers because the business promotes revenue generation and closing deals above all other activity.
I grew up watching my father’s career in a business that he described as “old school”. His industry valued personal relationships, company reputations, and customer experiences. The value placed on personal relationships and customers allowed my father to focus on what mattered in his life, like his family, his employees, and the well-being of his vendors and customers. When I compare his industry to the one I’ve worked in for a decade, I notice different values. When I started at DoubleDutch in 2014, I was determined to figure out whether I could succeed by genuinely caring about the customer, and my colleagues. It seems simple, but the pressure to meet targets “at all costs” and compete with or ostracize colleagues for “abandoning the cause” are a very real part of the highly competitive start-up space.
One of our core values is “No ass-holes allowed” which is a not so subtle way to remind our team to treat others with respect and kindness. As SaaS becomes increasingly ubiquitous, I feel strongly that companies who survive on reoccurring revenue will need to align their go to market strategy accordingly. Directing our team to prioritize genuine customer interactions can seem counter-intuitive to “closing the deal.” I’ve learned through my experience that it is not. I’ve also shared this idea with other sales leaders in the Enterprise SaaS space, and most agree that client relationships are becoming more strategic and important.
My day is full of interaction with clients, and colleagues. DoubleDutch’s commitment to caring about people, and my contribution to it, is what makes me most proud. While I do not believe we have a monopoly on this model, or that we, or I, have perfected it, I can say that using it as a guiding principle has served me well. Ride Together.