SalesTechStar Interview with Paul Farmer, Global Senior Vice President at VoltDB, Inc.

Paul Farmer, Global Senior Vice President at VoltDB, Inc. talks about a few sales trends influencing the telecommunications sector while sharing a few pointers for sales executives on how they can build out more buyer-centric sales processes:


Hi Paul, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years…some of the biggest learnings you’ve come across leading teams and growing businesses through this time

It’s all about people! In defining the knowledge, skills and attributes you want in your people and not settling for second best – as it will always come back to haunt you. Knowledge can be taught, key skills such as opportunity discovery, development and negotiation can take longer to develop – attributes such as tenacity, determination and initiative are pretty much set, so always factor that into your hiring! Get this right and you are well on your way to success.

People development is key!  Focusing on training your sales people, challenging them to look outside the box and help them grow their careers in line with their aspirations.  This makes for a loyal, committed and high energy sales team all running in the same direction.  Oh and of course have some fun as a team too!

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Tell us about some of the biggest sales strategies and sales trends that are shaping the telecom segment today? Some ways in which leaders in this segment are pursuing better sales initiatives to suit changing business times?

Our focus is in the Telecommunications 5G space. This is poised for enormous growth. I’ve seen estimates that this will be a $600 to $700 billion market by 2026. It’s set to be transformational for all of us with use cases around hyper personalisation, smart cities, industrial IOT with billions of interconnected devices, driverless and connected cars and telemedicine. Sales strategies that surf this wave of growth we believe will be extremely lucrative. But this “book” is being created as we speak, so we need to be agile, creative, visionary, highly inquisitive and adaptable in tapping into this huge opportunity. A common component in 5G use cases is the ability to achieve significant scale at ultra low latencies which is perfectly aligned to what we deliver at VoltDB which is fueling our growth within some of the biggest names in the business.

What are some top best practices and processes you feel global sales and enterprise sales teams should strengthen in order to drive more sales revenue?

It’s about balance and I have a formula here. It’s designed to ensure consistent quarter on quarter performance, growth and very often, significant over achievement. Getting this right has enabled me to really have some consistently amazing years and be the strongest performing business unit in the companies I have worked for.  I break the business down into 3 components, big deals, flow deals and repeatable revenue streams. What I aim for is 50% of your quota coming from flow and repeatable, and big deals being the icing on the cake.

A bit more in detail:

Repeatable revenue, working with those partners where your technology compliments their solutions.  tech partners, cloud vendors and SI’s to get them to that point where they are taking your solutions to market working with their customer base, your customer base with an aligned joint sales team. This has achieved amazing results in the past, creating a great pipeline with a lower cost of sale. Flow revenues are those in line with your average deal size, manage your pipeline carefully (usually between 2 and 4 to 1 coverage depending upon your conversion rates), with the right balance of opportunities at each stage through the sales process.

Big deals, never rely on these to make your number! Keep them as that icing on the cake, strategise hard on them, ask yourselves why they will happen and what’s the compelling event driving them to close. Celebrate them when you win!

Can you tell us about your most-relied on sales technologies and some of the best use cases that come to mind when it comes to crafting better sales revenue with sophisticated sales intelligence and salestech?

Sales technologies and methodologies are all much of a muchness. Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it simple. Whatever you use, ensure a common language that defines what stage you are in the sales process and have a verifiable outcome for each of these stages. Technologies I like……I think Altify is great for opportunity and account strategy, I also really like Clarify which gives you amazing visibility into your pipeline, opportunities and historical numbers. Both work seamlessly with Salesforce, which is vital. There is also a wealth of intelligence you can get from salesforce reports and dashboards.

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As B2B trends change and sales/marketing processes are redefined, what are some factors that you feel salespeople today should build on to have resiliency for the future?

I believe to meet customers new buying preferences today and to flourish in a post Covid economy via virtual selling and engagement, sales people must embrace a digital mindset.  B2B digital commerce has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic and is now top of mind for most sales people. Over the next five years, an even greater rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models.  Sales leaders need to accept that buying preferences have permanently changed and therefore the role of their teams need to as well. Our Customers expect us to be able to engage, interact and transact authentically across all digital channels.

One of the key areas that I feel salespeople should build upon is moving from a seller-centric to buyer centric orientation and shift from traditional sales processes to a hyper-automated digital first engagement with the customer.  A few years ago it was all about face to face meetings, this is typically when considering a purchase.  With less customer face time, virtual selling via digital channels is becoming the norm.  In parallel, salespeople need to embrace new tools and channels as well as a new manner of engaging customers, matching their sales activity to their customers’ buying practices and information-collecting needs.  Building relationships and gaining trust is critical to success and by leveraging tools and understanding the customer you are engaging with can only be valuable for both the seller and buyer!

A few thoughts on the future of sales in the B2B /Tech market?

I read a recent article from McKinsey on ​​”Companies that lead in B2B sales follow a three-pronged strategy to drive above-market growth.” I completely agree with “selling is about engaging the customer in how they want to be engaged”, highlighting that over 76% of B2B buyers want to speak to a salesperson when buying a new solution or service for the first time.  It is a combination of open-minded talent, digital tools that provide greater customer insight and engaging the customer in a value led dialogue that will stimulate growth and lead to success.

Five takeaways you’d share with incoming sales executives as they start new sales journeys…?

The key areas I would recommend to up and coming sales executives to focus on are;

Understand the solutions you are selling, what your unique selling points are and how you fit within a competitive landscape. Our job is to get prospects to articulate to us why these USP’s are key to them, and relate them to business drivers. How we do that is a bigger conversation, but essentially it’s about asking the right questions to build pain aligned to those USP’s.

WIIFM !! “What’s in it for me?” Put yourself in the customer or prospects shoes throughout the sales process and ensure you understand what’s in it for them and reflect that in your communication. Align to their needs, and remember that this is not just helping them overcome their business challenges and achieve their business goals, but can be personal goals such as a promotion, or their own development. This is what I meant by authenticity earlier.

Questioning skills are massively important – we are selling, not telling. Open, neutral and leading questions all have their place, learn how to use them all appropriately!!

Think about the psychology of the sale. Are you having to push the sale forward, or are you feeling a pull from the customer because they see how your solution is going to solve their problems. If it’s a push, change the strategy or qualify out.

Have an agreed objective, agenda and proposed next steps if the meeting is successful. This should be documented, shared in advance and shaped by both you and the prospect. Everyone then knows why they are there, what the plan is and what happens next. If a meeting ever ends with a “we will go away to think about it and come back to you if we are interested” it’s pretty certain to be  a complete waste of your time, your company’s resources and your prospects’ time.

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VoltDB empowers enterprise-grade applications to ingest, process, and act on data in single-digit milliseconds to tap into new revenue streams and prevent revenue loss. With industry-leading customers in telecommunications, finance, gaming, and many other verticals, The VoltDB Data Platform is uniquely positioned to be the go-to technology for any company seeking to take full advantage of 5G, IoT, and whatever comes next.

Paul Farmer has more than 20 years sales and management experience from working in the IT industry that he brings to his current role of Senior VicePresident, Global Sales at VoltDB.  Paul has a proven track record of building and mentoring best in class sales, sales leadership positions, pre-sales and customer success teams within multiple sectors of the IT business.

Before joining VoltDB, Paul served as Vice President and General Manager, Northern EMEA at Qlik responsible for a team of over 600 people with a revenue target of more than  $100m. Prior to Qlik, Paul built the sales team at Attunity, growing the data integration business over 3 years from $30 million to $100 million up to the point of acquisition by Qlik. Paul has also held several senior positions at Compuware.

Hang on! There’s more to discover from our latest episodes of the – SalesStar Podcast:

Episode 90: Boost Your Customer Engagement And Marketing Process: Tips And Thoughts By Steve Daheb, CMO At ON24

Episode 89: Demand Gen And B2B Marketing Tips: With Gil Allouche, Founder & CEO At Metadata.Io

Episode 88: The Impact Of Sales Automation On Sales Processes: With Pouyan Salehi, Co-Founder And CEO Of Scratchpad



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