What makes a stellar B2B sales person?

Artesian Interviews Andrew Jenkins BESMA 2018 Sales Professional of the Year

A popular interpretation of the Pareto principle states that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your sales people. If you type ‘the qualities of a great sales person’ into google you will get a wide variety of definitions, qualities, characteristics and traits.

So what makes a sales person rise to the top?

To get to the heart of the issue we thought it best to take inspiration from those in the know, and who better to give us the low down on what makes a stellar sales person than 2018’s BESMA Sales Professional of the Year – Andrew Jenkins, Territory Account Executive at Autodesk.

And, as luck would have it Andrew also happens to be an Artesian Super User.

The path to sales success

Andrew graduated from university with a degree in Business Studies and following in his father’s footsteps, sought out a sales role. As most of us do when leaving university, he kicked off his job search by attending a sales recruitment assessment day.

After throwing himself into a series of sales related exercises, he was sent home very deflated, having been told that he would never have a successful sales career.

But as Winston Churchill once famously said “success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”, so not letting this stumble get in the way of his dream, Andrew maintained his momentum and drive to succeed and just one month later was awarded a place on the Oracle Graduate Scheme, as a graduate developer.

The scheme allowed him to get out in front of customers, and it quickly became apparent to him that whilst he was a good developer, his sales dream had not died and his experience showed him that he had what it took to be a great sales person.

So, following his two-year graduate stint, and coinciding with the dotcom bubble bursting, Andrew left Oracle, and decided to give sales another go.

He was fortunate enough to interview at a small Telecoms company called Redstone, and his boss to be, Phil Thompson, quickly saw his potential. As Andrew says Phil gave “a fresh faced young lad a chance in the sales world”, and so it went from there.

Today, Andrew works for Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software and services.

In his role as Territory Account Executive Andrew works in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry, managing direct and indirect deals by leveraging partners and driving sales through the channel to fulfil customer needs.

That’s what his job description says anyway. In his own words what he actually does is “understand what my clients do in order to generate revenue and assess where our software and services can help them do that more efficiently.”

I sat down with Andrew after his BESMA win and asked him more about his career in sales so far and what it takes to be a sales rockstar in 2018/19.

Sophie Smith (SS): What are your daily practices/sales rituals?

Andrew Jenkins (AJ): One of the things I love about working in B2B sales, is that no two days are the same. Having said that, I do have a pre-office daily practice (when I’m not leaving very early for a meeting), when my alarm goes off I take a few minutes to check social media and my Artesian news alerts to find out what’s happening with my customers and share anything relevant.

Once that’s done I head to the gym for a quick 45 minute work-out. It sounds like a cliché these days, but for me, it’s a great way of keeping stress levels down, and it gives me a chance to run through the day in my mind.

SS: How important is customer experience/relationship management in B2B sales today?

AJ: Gone are the days of the win/lose sales scenario, where either the customer or vendor wins.

These days, to be successful, you must be able to find your way to a win/win scenario.

If you can explain the true value of your product and/or service, and explain how it will help the customer achieve their goals, then you move from a customer-vendor relationship, to a partnership.

And you can’t do any of that if you don’t have the right relationships, and a good customer experience.

Too many people in sales see customer experience as a ‘defend’ tactic. It needs to be there from the start of the sales cycle.

SS: What do you think are the qualities of a great sales leader?

AJ: For me, the best sales leaders can create and articulate a vision. If that vision requires change, they can affect that change, and they’re not afraid to take risks to achieve the goal.

On a more personal level, the best leaders I’ve come across are always looking to coach people too.

Personally, I respond best to leaders who I believe have ‘been there and done it’. The sort of person that you know would and could step into your role if you weren’t there.

SS: How do you see B2B sales changing over the next 5 years?

AJ: The decision-making criteria for B2B sales in five years will be very different from those used today. Partly because the decision makers of tomorrow will be very different, however, I also believe that customer experience is starting to play a much more important role.

Customers are excited about new technologies but have an inherent mistrust of the companies who are providing that technology.

Likewise, their expectations are also higher, and their patience for businesses that fail to deliver is in short supply.

A lot more research into products and services is being done by the customer before engaging a vendor, so the emphasis on simplifying the message, and communicating the value of what you sell has never been so important.

On a more personal level…

SS: What is your career highlight or the achievement that you’re most proud of?

AJ: There are several career highlights for me, but the best has to be having one of my customers at Autodesk being asked to present their journey (aided by our software) at our European sales event ‘OTx’ in Copenhagen.

Seeing a client link their company’s success to the support I have provided is the real pinnacle of the role for me.

SS: Who is your role-model and why?

AJ: My role model is a person whose behaviour, example, and success is something I want to emulate, and that person is my father.

I’ve heard it said that sons turn into their father’s eventually. If I could become half the man my father is today, I will deem that a success.

His approach to everyone and everything is measured, always looking to help and support whoever he comes across without discrimination.

It was this attitude that made him a fantastic father, and a very successful salesman/manager.

SS: As an Artesian Super User I can’t resist asking about your views on the service?

AJ: Artesian is always ‘invaluable’ for one very simple reason. Using the tool allows me to spend more time with my customers.

The functionality within Artesian saves me hours in the run up to customer meetings. Where previously I might have spent a couple of days researching the client, their senior executives and news in relation to the current climate. That can now be done in a matter of hours.

The knock-on effect is that I can now fit more customer meetings into a week, and time spent with customers is the most valuable use of theirs and my time because I have a far deeper and far more up-to-date view of their business and their needs, as well as a more granular understanding of what they expect from me and Autodesk.

Conclusions about what makes a stellar sales person

So after speaking with Andrew what are my conclusions about what makes a stellar sales person?

They’re tireless, hardworking, enthusiastic and persistent. They know that sales is not an easy job but they have a passion for it. Perhaps most importantly, they are first and foremost focused on the customer.

Of course I am also delighted to hear that Artesian makes a difference – that it saves time, improves understanding, and sets sales people up to succeed every morning.

To find out more about Artesian and how it could help you on your road to sales success click here.