Corporate Vision January 2017

10 CORPORATE VISION / January 2017 , In short, sales-i is a unique sales performance tool that proactively tracks and monitors customer purchasing behaviour, fed entirely by data that comes primarily from a company’s ERP system, including the likes of Sage, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, amongst others. Their software fuels the typical product-based salesperson with instant, actionable sales information. This information can be used to make every sales call more personal and profitable. Paul Black, founder of the firm, explains more about what they do and how they engage with clients. “Our customers are distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers in product-based industries. As such, the size and diversity of our customer base is huge, from our smallest customer at around £1.5m annual turnover to corporate giants tipping the scale at £20bn in turnover. “Companies in these sectors often have hundreds of thousands of customers, products, and invoices, so information overload is one of their biggest challenges. Our software condenses complex information for the typical ‘low tech’ user, and presents it in simple, actionable information. “Most salespeople, at some point or another, will have had to choose between a good night’s sleep or being fully prepared ahead of their 9am sales meeting. The process of trawling through spreadsheets, sales reports, and customer information until the small hours of the morning is becoming a thing of the past thanks to sales-i. “As CEO of sales-i, I am heavily involved in all aspects of the company, including recruitment/ Believer in People sales-i was established back in 2008 by Paul Black and has since grown into a worldwide company. Paul Black chatted to us about the success the company has experienced and what the challenges have been to become CEO. retention, sales, marketing, building our local network of partners and, most importantly, executing my vision for the business by ensuring those around me are as vested in its future as I am.” Hiring the right staff is important to Paul. He explains to us why he believes that the people who work for him ensure his business is successful. “I am a huge believer that people make a business a success. The sales-i team are an incredibly talented bunch of people. Simply put, I only employ staff that are better at fulfilling a certain role than I would be! “All my business success stems from employing the right people, and everything that hasn’t gone quite so well is often down to employing the wrong people. The team are what makes sales-i and without them, I wouldn’t be winning this award today. “As a company, we invest heavily in people, their development, and careers, whether through training courses, support, or mentoring. Like with our product, we are always looking for ways to improve. Positive change is the key to any successful business. I encourage the team at sales-i to learn from each other, the industry, and our customers. Being successful isn’t a trait that you can develop overnight, and so I encourage the team to constantly learn from their experiences. Fail, but fail fast. Learn from it, improve, and move on. If anything, that’s my key principle: fail, but fail fast.” As well as being a believer in people, Paul outlines the other key attributes that he believes have helped him to become an award winning CEO. “Being adaptable and able to use the tools and materials at my disposal has been an integral part of my success. These range from my employees, material resources, and finance. Taking full advantage of them, and using them wisely for the improvement of sales-i, has been key. “As I mentioned before, I believe we should all learn to ‘fail fast’, and that’s truer than ever for myself, too. Failing is part of the learning process: we fail, we learn from it, and we move on. We quickly learn not to make the same mistakes again. “The sales-i office is a fluid environment - my door is always open to the team. We all have a good time at work, and while it’s a fun place to be, we’re all very committed and really care about seeing sales-i progress on this journey.” “As a CEO, overcoming challenges has been crucial to my own and the company’s success. In the early days, financial constraints were frustrating at times – as is the case for many technology start- ups. Before developing sales-i, I secured a funding grant and used this to research my target markets, allowing me to fine- tune my ideas and ensure the idea for sales-i was a solid one. I then approached angel investors to fund the development and inception of the product. “Hiring the right employees can also be tough sometimes. I want my employees to not be afraid of making mistakes because it’s so crucial to growth, both personally and professionally. Enlisting a top-level board of directors was also a significant challenge. I needed the right experience, characteristics, and personalities to sit on the board, and thankfully that is what we have now: an extensive team of non-executive directors. “Opening our US office in Chicago was a huge challenge. Branching out into the US is a decision rarely contemplated by other UK businesses, but one that has helped me to grow and develop my skills as a business leader. Our office in Chicago now employs a team of over 25 and continues to grow every month.” Another challenge for Paul is the impact of industry changes on the business. Paul explains more about how the industry has changed over the years. “The industry has changed a huge amount in the last few years. The world is becoming incredibly time- centric and our time is becoming increasingly precious. This has directly impacted my business; people are more aware than ever of their professional lives eating into their personal ones. That’s what sales-i changes. Our customers don’t have the time or inclination to interrogate multiple spreadsheets full of sales data. Who does? We’re giving time back to busy salespeople and giving them more time to spend at home with their families while sales-i does all the legwork ahead of their sales meetings. “Inbound marketing is also becoming increasingly important, and this is something we’re very aware of within sales-i. Sales and marketing are no longer high- pressure push models, but one that sees contacts lovingly nurtured, from their initial contact with us through to becoming a customer. “The internationalisation of theworld has played a huge role at sales-i, mostly to our advantage. It has opened new markets and territories for us that we wouldn’t have 1701CV36