ITEM: After living and working in Ukraine for 2 years, what is your main conclusion about UA sales work and sales team. Is it changing in terms of quality and professionalism?
MV:My opinion is that Ukraine has a great young generation who is willing to learn and work hard. Many people are attracted by the IT industry and it is very good. During my 2 years of working & living in Ukraine, I have seen and experienced many things, discovered a totally new culture. I can consider it as a super rich experience. About UA sales and sales team, I was shocked to see that people with no experience, no diploma, no career and no proven success record where giving themselves the title as "Director of Sales - Head of Business Development - VP and other". I realized very fast that we were not speaking the same language. Almost all IT companies were built by a technical guy (who succeed well) with no knowledge to the commercial point of view. What makes me sad, is that sales people are so under evaluated and they are expected to bring quick amazing results with no one to explain, train, teach them sales technics, sales process, patience, communication and most of it, how to build a relationship with the customer.
Now, I must admit that I can feel that more and more people understand that the market has changed and that something has to change in their sales.
ITEM: What social media do you recommend for connecting to potential target clients?
MV: A lot of people speak about social media (Linkedin, Angellist, Twitter, FB, ........) for the moment. There is this dream about social media and social selling. As a matter of fact, social media never sold anything by itself! It is the way we use those tools which is important. Does not really matter which social media you use. When I see how salespeople are using right now LinkedIn, I'm telling myself "are they crazy? they are killing a great social media to get in touch with potential customer". They do not realise that LinkedIn is not a sales tool or even a lead generation tool! It is a connecting tool.
I do believe that you have to connect your potential customer where he feel the most comfortable to start a relationship with him. So all social media are very good tool as long as you use it with your customer comfort priority.
ITEM: Is it possible to sell worldwide and bring serious contracts sitting in the office with a laptop without travelling abroad for personal meetups with customers?
MV: Yes, we are in the Age of communication and customer are everywhere in the world. I have personal experience selling remotely for a Canadian company in the Canadian Market and with one of the biggest Digital Agency in Miami. The same in Ukraine with the companies I have been working with.
Now, don't get me wrong, I still believe that a face to face interaction create more value, create a strong relationship and if it is possible to get this face to face opportunity, you should difinetly go for it.
ITEM: You have a very intensive working schedule, as far as we know starting from very early hours in the morning and ending up late at night. What do you do to prevent burnout?
MV: I start my professional life in Japan working more or less 14 - 15 hours/day (the rest, I was partying). Maybe it helps a little bit as very young I have been used to this rhythm.
Now, I must admit that there is a little secret. As a matter of fact, I am a really lazy person, but I discover that it is my responsibility to go get what I want, my responsibility to work for it and my responsibility to not complain about the work I have to do to succeed what I want. I also discover that very few people have this mindset and that make me compete with nobody. I'm lucky that my wife has the same mindset, but we do not feel that we are working many hours. We enjoy our day and we do a lot of activities not related to work. We just organise well our time. For example, I work a lot in an airport, airplane, bus, taxi, car .....) I use all those times that everybody is wasting to work. The secret is to be well organise and be upfront you work not behind and running after your work.
ITEM: What would you recommend to sales specialist to lean and train to improve quality of their deals?
MV: Very interesting question that I have a lot. As I said, there is no magic in sales. I'm not Harry Potter :). I had the chance to work and be trained by one of the best sales school in Western Europe during 18 years. I have learned a lot thanks to that and I am still learning every day. But before willing to learn and closing deals, you need first to be ready to work hard, suffer and be patient. Without those qualities, everything you will learn will go away very fast. It is our human nature to select the easiest way, but for success and especially for sales, the easy way is the wrong way.
You can find lots of information on the internet (information is everywhere), you can follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter (@valymanconsult) where I share content about sales & marketing. You can also ask for a mentor. But most of all, IT company must invest in Sales! that means have the courage to ask help from people with expertise in Sales. Expert that have proven experience in the market you are looking for (means people who have worked as sales abroad), expert from those cultures. Invest in your amazing young generation who is willing to struggle for your company, they will give you a great ROI, but you need to give them new sales technics coaching.