News & Views
Leap of Faith from Sales to the Contact Centre
Gerry McCourt on LinkedIn
Leap of Faith
During 2020 I questioned my timing. I had just joined taken a role based in a Contact Centre with an organisation that was somewhat unknown to me, a role that at first glance was a distance from what I had done before. The organisation was SalesSense and the role was Sales & Operations Manager for a new customer partnership we had just entered.
Throughout my career I have been in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion. Whether this is luck, hard work or a combination of both, I am not entirely sure. This has helped me to learn from some of the best leaders in the business in previous roles like Anne Sheehan and Leo O’Leary. I have learned that timing is paramount to a deal being signed, an internal promotion going your way, or getting a business case across the line.
But now as individual who had spent 18 years with one multinational and one subsequent year with a SME organisation in Learning & Development, the word “new” did not get any newer than this. When COVID-19 almost immediately forced my Contact Centre to close, I feared that the pandemic would stifle this company’s growth and progression, and therefore my own too.
I had known the SalesSense brand and in weekly meetings it was linked to delivering on sales targets. I knew some of the individuals as I had been involved in the onboarding and training of the SalesSense team back in 2006. Growing up in an organisation makes you know more about it than you can every quantify, and in fact it only becomes apparent how much you know when you leave and start somewhere new from scratch. I had high expectations of SalesSense but knew that their expectations of me would be higher and that a fast start would be required. I was right.
My research told me that The SalesSense Way was to drive sales through quality of service provided, and that happy customers would be your revenue source. A happy customer would be a customer that you would retain and re-sign, thereby ensuring that the partnership continued to be mutually beneficial and profitable. Coming from my previous role in a Contact Centre and the experiences I had with my other employers in Harvest and Vodafone, this concept was not new to me, but I also wanted to come into the business and make an immediate and noticeable impact.
I was very lucky. I inherited a management team of very strong individuals. With the support of the leadership team, we managed to make that strong start, achieving strong sales numbers week on week. When we got the news that the sales campaign would be upgraded to a sale and service campaign (“sales-oriented service, service-oriented sales”), the team took this news well and looked to improve based on lessons learned. I genuinely feel that it is these individuals working as a team that made the campaign the success that it is.
We have grown our campaign from a Care based helpdesk to one that now supports Credit, Retention, On-Boarding, Customer Satisfaction, and multiple Administrative functions. All lines of business have grown based on the success of those that went before, and all in just 7 months. It is fair to say I am proud of how we have performed and excited about what opportunities 2021 will bring for the team and myself.
The learnings for me over the past year have been vast, so big that for me to gain value from them I have broken them down into their most important parts.
Sales vs. Operations
I love sales and sales management; I always saw it as the sexy side of the business and the space in which I felt most at home. The most rewarding and memorable times in my career have hung in the balance of a deal going my way, or God forbid, the competitors. It taught me habits that die hard such as focusing on the monetary target – watch the number!! Now in my current role I watch all the numbers, and the learning here is that in Sales and Ops, you must achieve the required result if you are to be successful.
I came from a corporate background which placed a huge emphasis on culture. How you did things was almost as important as what you did, both internally and externally. Each year you were rewarded based on your achievements against KPIs and how you lived the values of the organisation. I am glad to be a part of the implementation of an enterprise level performance-led programme that will help all staff, whether Contact Centre or Field-Based, to harness our results-oriented culture and ensure that team members who display pride in their work will be rewarded. To be able to customise and to choose the parts of a model that will work and leave the parts that you know will not behind displays the desire amongst the leadership team to implement what is right, not what is fast.
The learning here is that the organisation is maturing and growing up, but not losing what makes it Agile, and Able. Size is great, but in a market this tumultuous you must be able to tailor your strategy to meet its demands. Launching campaigns and growing through a pandemic is the best example I have seen of this.
While every organisation is on a journey of some kind, there are times when that journey is at its most exciting and ambitious. There are also times when that journey is slow and tedious, and previous experience has shown me that this is a cyclical pattern. Thankfully, my timing fears have been alleviated because while some of our customer growth has slowed, SalesSense is using this opportunity to drive forward – to refine our operating model and marketing message, to develop our people, to offer them choices and most importantly, to focus on our vision. We are streamlining our Contact Centre capabilities for the leap into bigger waters, and as always, I know that timing is important to the individual, but the shared vision, ambition and direction of the organisation and its leaders is what keeps the journey on track.
I am excited about our future. I am fortunate that my current role supports me to play the part I have wanted, while also balancing my most important role with my young growing family. I can see endless opportunities within SalesSense, for anyone that wants them, and for me. We have begun to diversify our offering. We have entered a new market in MedTech, new regions in the US, and most excitingly, we have grown. This growth has been through a culture of constant development. The business has learned how to move up the value chain, both in terms of how we provide services and who we partner with. We are comfortable in our own skin to stand behind our values, processes, and principles.
We are, and I am, ready to make the leap into bigger waters. It’s a journey I am really looking forward to.
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