We caught up with Silicon Valley’s most prominent sales hustler, Close.io Founder, Steli Efti who is coming to Ireland to speak at Business of Software Conference Europe, 16-17th May 2016.
We asked Steli ‘What makes a brilliant sales person’? this is what he had to say …
A willingness to learn is so vital. I’m coming to BoS this time to speak but I come when I don’t speak too – to learn from everyone I meet there too. It’s an exciting environment for someone who never feels they’re done growing and developing as a professional. Many of the people there are experts in their field but learn from others and are happy to listen, offer suggestions, make connections. It’s an invaluable knowledge exchange. Always be ambitious about learning and be prepared to share knowledge too because it propels everyone forward.
Another key quality is being able to face or overcome fear. Last year at BoS I spoke about sales tactics which tech-minded people starting out in business often find most painful. I spoke about approaching sales in a very human way which takes you out of your comfort zone but which really works. Yes, it’s kind of painful. And yes, that’s why I want you to do it. I want people to embrace everything that’s outside of their comfort zone. If you leave an event like BoS and only do the things that you’re comfortable with, you’ve wasted your time. Instead, pick one thing that you’re the least comfortable with but still seems like the right idea, because that’s where all your growth is going to be – outside of your comfort zone, not within it.
I think probably most important of all though would be empathy. An interest in people, and paying attention to how you make people feel. Building special relationships by helping people in a human way. That’s the whole ethos of BoS and it’s extremely powerful. That’s why I’m so excited about coming to Ireland. People often ask me, ‘Steli, what was the most impressive sales pitch you ever got?’ I tell them a story from when I was about 17 years old…
— Steli Efti (@Steli) April 13, 2014
I’d started my first business and eventually I was able to afford a nice suit. I come from a really humble factory worker immigrant family background and so I’d never had a lot of money, but I did now and I wanted to feel really professional about being an entrepreneur. At the end of the day I was in front of the counter ready to pay for this huge pile of clothes and it came to €3000. I went to my pocket and I realised I didn’t have my wallet. There was a line behind me and I was getting insecurities. I was thinking ‘these people behind me will think I can’t pay; this sales guy will think I can’t afford it and that I’m pretending I forgot my money, that I will never come back’. And so I was sweating now, I was red, and I told the sales person ‘I’m super sorry, I forgot my wallet. Can you just put it to the side and I’ll go and grab my wallet and I’ll come back, and everything is going to be fine?’ He looked at me and he said ‘No’. And I thought oh man! But he said ‘What do you mean put it to the side? These are your clothes, you take them with you and whenever you can, you come and you pay’. And I’ll tell you what I did next. I went into my car, I called my next appointment and cancelled it, I drove home, picked up my wallet and drove right back to the store. I walked in and I paid.
I’ll tell you what I would have done if that person had put that stuff to the side. I would’ve walked out of there and I would never have come back, because I was embarrassed and I hate shopping and it took me half a year to get the energy to get myself to go and buy some clothes. And up until that point, nobody had ever treated me like that, with that level of respect and trust. And that was 13 years ago, but after that event I started going to that store every month and I spent on average 2 to 3,000 euros every month with this specific sales guy. I can’t remember now what I bought or his name or the store name, but I will never forget how he made me feel.
This is the first time the BoS Conference has come to Ireland. It will be bringing together many of the smartest minds in tech at the Powerscourt Hotel on 16-17 May. Steli Efti joins Rand Fishkin – Moz, Bridget Harris – YouCanBookMe, Rory Sutherland – Ogilvy, Stephen Allott – Micromuse, Nick Halstead – DataSift/Cognitive Logic, Peter Coppinger – Teamwork and a host of other amazing brains at the Business of Software Conference Europe, May 16-17th.
Tech4Good Startup? 8 hours left to apply for Scholarship Inc free hotel. https://t.co/bwbRMXxmIz
— Business of Software (@bosconference) May 10, 2016
About BoS Conference:
The organisers have run Business of Software USA for ten years and launched Business of Software Europe 2 years ago in Cambridge, England. This year, they are bringing BoS to the Powerscourt Hotel outside Dublin, Ireland as the home of the event.
Speakers over the years have included Joel Spolsky, Patrick McKenzie, Geoffrey Moore, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, Kathy Sierra, Gail Goodman, Clayton Christensen, Rand Fishkin, Des Traynor, Don Norman, Dharmesh Shah, Dan Pink, Seth Godin, Scott Farquhar and other founders of SaaS and software businesses with a combined market cap of well over $20 billion on the public markets today and over 55,000 employees.
Mark Littlewood, CEO of BoS Conference commented, “Dublin is a fantastic city. It has a vibrant tech scene – both large companies and startups are well represented – and Dublin Airport is so easy to reach from the US and Europe. We chose the Powerscourt as the venue as it fits with the values of the event – namely it’s dedication to providing a high quality experience out of the fast paced city. We want to offer people some time away from their day-to-day business, to treat them well, in a great location, with plenty of space to think.
“The opportunity to bring people from some of the fastest growing, most admired SaaS and software businesses to Ireland seemed too good to miss, particularly as Ireland is now reaching a tipping point as its software ecosystem reaches critical mass and companies including Intercom and Teamwork are making waves on a global stage.
— Mark Littlewood (@MarkLittlewood) May 9, 2016
“We know many people don’t like going to events as they end up being pitched to in a crowded room. We try to run an event that puts our guests first and that we would be happy to pay to attend. We are looking forward to this year’s Business of Software Conference Europe, May 16-17th, we have an amazing group of people coming from around the world and hope that we will meet plenty more people in the Irish tech community.”
— Mark Littlewood (@MarkLittlewood) May 10, 2016
About Mark Littlewood
Mark Littlewood runs the Business of Software Conference and is also the founder of the Business Leaders Network, where he runs the UK’s leading technology networking events and the IoT Forum.
He fell into the world of startups before it was fashionable in the early 1990s and has worked in the UK and US initially running publications and events for the Computer Aided Design and Rapid Prototyping industry before setting up a dot bomb in 1999. Since then he set up Library House (acquired by Dow Jones) the first European database of venture funded tech businesses in 2002. He has run Business of Software since 2007 and occasionally helps startups. He’s enthusiastic about technology and relishes bringing people together to share ideas and learn from each other. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @marklittlewood.
For more information or comment:
Mark Littlewood: [email protected], +44 7760 171 929