At Carter Murray, we support sales professionals across the full marketing spectrum.
Our own Patrick Sommerfelt is a specialist in the recruitment of marketing, communication and sales professionals across the commerce and industry space with a particular focus on the SaaS and technology sectors.
In his latest industry leaders interview, Patrick sat down with Jim Godman, Vice President and Senior Director of Software Sales at Thomson Reuters.
Can you tell us about your role?
I head up the European software go-to-market (GTM) strategy for Thomson Reuters Legal division. This is a second-line leadership position and my direct team consists of five leaders responsible for sales, customer success and sales development covering a team of around 50 people.
My main responsibilities include GTM strategy, planning and execution, forecasting and delivering the sales numbers and revenue growth targets. This involves participating in a cross-functional GTM leadership team with colleagues from Product, Services, Sales Ops, Marketing and Finance teams. We also work with Talent Development to recruit and develop great talent into a world-class team.
Can you tell us about your career to date?
I started my professional sales career at Yellow Pages (YP) selling advertising in the directory (for those who can remember the Yellow Pages!) The training at YP was amazing and consisted of a three-week residential course.
This was the foundation to my professional sales career and set me up for success. I moved into the data division of YP which was acquired by Experian in 2003. Being part of a much larger business gave opportunities for progression, so I was promoted to sales leadership in 2007. Over the next seven years I managed various teams of differing sizes ending my career as Sales Director for Data & Software.
After Experian, I had an 18-month spell with a high growth B2B SaaS platform before joining Thomson Reuters in 2016 to head up their European Software GTM. Since then, the product portfolio has increased considerably along with the size of the team.
Why did you want to become a sales professional?
I started studying to be a chartered surveyor but after a year decided this was not for me. I was getting frustrated in my current job and had family and friends who were doing well in sales. It was actually a friend who encouraged me to apply for a role at Yellow Pages. The rest is history!
What do you value most about working in sales?
I am passionate about how the solutions we sell can solve business critical issues for our clients and I am a firm believer that the client should be at the heart of everything we do.
I also really value working alongside great team members and colleagues, supporting team members be the best possible versions of themselves to achieve amazing things.
Lastly, I love the buzz of sales, there is nothing better than the chase of month/quarter or year-end – especially when you are crushing your quota.
What key skills do you think sales professionals need to be successful?
For me there are many skills, but the ones I look out for are:
- Confidence – how you show up is so important and having the right mindset will come across with internal and external engagements
- Active listening skills – really understanding the customers’ needs
- Good communicator – sales folks spend most of their day communicating and this covers all channels, face to face, Zoom, email etc.
- High emotional intelligence – this covers self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy and motivation
- Asking for feedback – from peers, colleagues, and customers
- Growth mindset – continued self-improvement
- Resilience – there are always highs and lows in sales and being resilient to these in imperative
Is it important to have qualifications in sales or can you learn from experience?
I think everyone can learn from experience but it is difficult to land a new role without relevant experience. I have seen Sales Executives move through the ranks, starting in inside sales and moving up to field sales and then into leadership and senior leadership positions.
All of this is from learning from experience. If someone is curious, has a growth mindset and is prepared to push outside of their comfort zone to learn, which will include failing, then great things can be achieved.
What advice do you have for those trying to get ahead in the industry?
Displaying the skills listed above first and foremost, plus focus on solving client problems. Be seen as a trusted advisor and not as just another salesperson. Always prepare and be prepared. Get a mentor either a top performing rep or sales leader. Keep learning – there is loads of great content available online which can help you to progress your career. Keep going, sales can be full of highs and lows, so grit and resilience are so important. Finally, be happy and enjoy what you do.
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