DSMN8 Team: Introducing Roel van de Ven – Enterprise Sales

Regardless how innovative the idea, or how widespread the problem that it solves, any start-up must sell their solution to the masses: communicating why, exactly, a market must embrace and adopt a product.

While the start-up world turns at a head-spinning pace, and traditional thinking has long argued for a stripped to the core, lean approach for the start-up team – without the right sales talent, even the most ground-breaking products would falter.

As others around us in the software industry continue to advocate services teams as nothing more than a cost – to be replaced instead with third-parties, we know that strong customer communication and on-the-ground insight can only come from the right sales talent – for which, we’ve found Roel van de Ven, our new Enterprise Sales Executive.

Introducing – Roel van de Ven – Enterprise Sales Executive

From taking his first steps into the corporate world as an office assistant at an Attorneys’ Firm, Roel has taken increasingly larger leaps – moving onwards from Junior Business Developer at G4S, onto Henkel, a world leader in adhesive technologies, beauty care and home care, grossing 18 billion a year.

Roel’s initial internship would transition into positions on steadily higher levels – Regional Marketing Assistant, to Regional Product Management and finally securing Regional Pricing Manager, all in the space of 3 short years.

This heady rise into the upper echelons of a global leader’s business team demonstrates an impressive business acumen, yet Roel’s career history has been far from all work and no play. Following a stint as a Wealth Manager, he would go on to become co-owner in a wakeboarding business in Dubai – quite the stark contrast to the straight laced and serious world of financial services. The tenacity to be just as effective for high-net-worth individuals seeking financial advice, as adrenaline junkies looking for a speed thrill, is not to be underestimated (and truth be told, as an avid wakeboarder for over a decade, this is also a real labour of love).

As DSMN8 prepares for growth, it is in Roel’s direction, communication and insight that we’ll secure interest, clients and, ultimately, long-term sustainability.

Q&A 

What did you do before joining DSMN8? 

I ran my own water sports company called Wake Evolution, based in Dubai, which is still going strong. Prior to that I was part of the Regional Marketing team at Henkel – spearheading campaigns and growth in India, the Middle East and Africa (IMEA).

Describe your role in 5 words

Develop and maximize growth opportunities.

Who or what inspires you?

There are many great people in the world who I’m inspired by, but I would say my top 3 would be: Tony Robbins, Will Smith and Richard Branson. Each of whom have taken on industries, questioned the status quo and achieved progression by breaking with convention. They also know what true leadership looks like, Branson puts this best:

“A company is people … employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.”

Why did you choose to work at DSMN8? 

For the challenge, potential and opportunities – challenge comes in many forms when positioned in the fast-paced start-up world, whereas potential can only be realised when ground-breaking opportunities are fully understood and strategically exploited. Around me are a team of leaders who have track-records for success – alongside them, we’ll be hitting the ground running at a speed that start-ups demand.

How does your role fit into the rest of the DSMN8 Team? 

I bring the business to the table – but this begins with a robust understanding of the product features and the ways in which I can bridge the divide between the end user, and our development team. In this way, I’m the cog that makes refinement of features and UX possible. This link is critical to developing a product that users need, and that users love to use.

What are the main challenges for Enterprise Sales at a Startup organisation? 

Starting from ground zero is fraught with many challenges – from an enterprise sales perspective, the most imposing is getting your name out there in front of big brands, over and above your more established rivals.

We’ve achieved this with vigorous research on what customers want from an advocacy platform – this has ensured we’re developing the right features and user experience. Of equal crucial importance, is our robust sales funnel, and our CRM that helps us talk about the right things, to the right people.

What sales tech do you use to make your life easier in identifying leads and booking pitches?

We use HubSpot which is an awesome tool for prospect and pipeline management. Besides that, we use old school tools: LinkedIn, cold calling and networking. Perhaps the most vital form of networking are trade shows, which place us face-to-face with industry leaders. We’ve met some fantastic brands at CES, NAMM and most recently IPSO.

How do you spend your time out of the office? 

I’m a wakeboarding addict, when not in the office, you’ll likely find me in the water at Wake Evolution or at the cable at Al Forsan.

5 Must See Movie Scenes for Sales People

The following five movie clips are not simply scenes that I like -they have been watched over and over again, forming part of my own private collection of motivational tools. Each one has a different place in my heart, but they are all absolute gold. Some of the content will not be suitable for kids, so viewer discretion is advised!

1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Alec Baldwin Hosts a Sales Meeting:

The sales meeting is the space in which you either discuss the deals you are working on, or are reminded that you have more work to do. This has to be my favourite movie scene of all time. Alec Baldwin’s character delivers the best ‘get your ass in shape’ message I think the big screen has ever seen. What I love about this scene is the body language of the underperformers – they really are the victims. If you have worked in sales, you will have met guys just like them. What I also love about this scene is that the character that Al Pacino plays isn’t even present. Why? Well, he is out having dinner with a prospective client and closing business. By far the best line in Baldwin’s cameo is: “Put the coffee down! Coffee is for closers only!”

2. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) – Booking the Meeting:

If you are in sales, then it’s a fair assumption that you have made many, many cold calls. It is hard graft, and you have to stay emotionally strong. This clip demonstrates just how hard you need to work, and how a bit of basic maths can show you how to get ahead. Some people may think that the ‘never put the phone down’ approach is maybe a little ‘old school’ and outdated, but I firmly believe that the only substitute for how good you are is how hard you work. When I watched this movie  for the first time, I actually made an audible cheering sound and looked around to see if others were as happy as me… clearly I was the only sales person in the theatre!

 

3. There Will Be Blood (2007) – I’m an Oil Man:

This is one of my favourite scenes, from one of my favourite movies. This is the scene where Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is introducing himself to a community of people who have oil on their land. He is clear about who he is, and the added value he can bring to his potential customers. What I also admire about this is the way he presents this value as a story, rather than a stuffy list of benefits and features. Of course, the movie reveals that his intentions were not all good, but nevertheless an amazing pitch!

 

4. The Wolf of Wall Street – Sales Motivation:

Everybody has had a terrible boss – and while Jordon Belfort could hardly be described as a scrupulously honest man, he was absolutely stellar at getting his troops ready for battle. This clip is a great one to watch first thing in the morning, to prepare yourself for a day of calls. Leonardo DiCaprio’s widely acclaimed character, Jordan, makes it abundantly clear that they will not be dialling themselves, and that the more effort you put in, the greater results you will see. I am not so sure about throwing a gold Rolex at your team though!

5. Tropic Thunder (2008) – The Tom Cruise Dance:
Okay, so this one is just a bit of fun. If you work in sales, you will undoubtedly know what it is like to get rejected. So on those occasions when things DO go your way, it’s time to celebrate! Tom Cruise is hilarious in this scene and portrays an amazing parody of a corporate head, who only cares about money and … flying in a G5!
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and I would love to hear about the movie scenes which inspire and motivate you. Please share some golden sales moments from the silver screen below!

No Idea … No Problem!

One of the biggest reasons I hear for people not becoming an entrepreneur is that they simply don’t have an idea. Well, I am here to tell you that this is not a problem at all. In fact, this is probably a good thing. Here is why…

Firstly, if you have a totally new idea, then part of your challenge will be getting people to see why it is a good idea. This is a lot harder than you think and requires lots of time and money. In most cases, entrepreneurs don’t have spare money, let alone time. So why not just copy someone else? After all, did Richard Branson create aviation? Did Conrad Hilton create the concept of hotels?

When I created E-Tale, I took something that had been around for a while and approached it from a new angle and produced a better product. I provided a better service to the customers and made it easier for customers to join. This approach resonated with the wider market and ultimately lead us to become a market leader in our field within a pretty short period (around five years).

Here are a few ways you can take an existing idea and make it your own.

Apply a fresh business model
In recent years, we have even seen Microsoft promote new business models for things like Microsoft Office. What used to be a CD purchased from a local computer store, is now a subscription that will ensure you always have the latest version as well as some cloud storage for your precious documents.

So take a look at some of the market leaders in your chosen sector and see if you can change they way people buy (make it easier). Remember things that only ten years ago were complicated and require deep integration, could probably be made much more user-friendly and operated from the cloud.

Provide Better features:
‘The bigger the ship, the longer it takes to turn’. This is VERY true; you should burn this belief into the centre of your brain. There may be huge, well-funded companies leading your industry, but the chances are they are not able to act quickly to customer needs. This is for the simple reason that the bigger your product, the harder it is to add new features.

This presents an opportunity for you. By asking a few potential client ‘what they really want’ you will be able to make a new product that could actually outflank the big guys. Look at things like ‘Xero’ the online accountancy package! Do you think Sage were worried when they got started… probably not. But Xero now has over 100,000 paying customers, not a small chunk of change.

Create a Better Sales Model:
This is a simple one, but in the real word most companies are pretty bad at sales. So if you are good at sales, and you have an almost identical product to another company, you will win.

You may be competing with a company with a huge sales force, and that may seem scary. However, trust me that your lower cost model and highly focused small sales team can be just as scary to them. When we sold E-Tale we had two sales people, and I was one of them. However, we took on many contracts from much larger and well-funded businesses.

So if you don’t have an idea, just open your eyes and look around. A good place to start is the exhibitor list of the most recent conference in your chosen sector. Take a look at their websites, speak to prospects and find out what you can do to make the product even better.

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