Very nice to be approached by The ISM to write this blog on how I have arrived at this point. Current Interim Sales role at Mind Tools.
I am Matt Jefferson, a career interim sales director since 2005. I go in to companies usually for 3-12 months to interim manage sales teams, sometimes to build the team other times to enhance but always with the aim of fast growth and managing change. I love the variety of companies, the constant challenge of something new and meeting and working with new people and teams.
Change is part of the territory, personally as I am regularly in a new company with new people, new products, new relationships to build, and professionally as I am often brought in to manage substantial change around performance, new markets, mergers and acquisitions.
I will commence a new role by reviewing sales proposition, sales process, lead generation, clients and prospect types, competitors, and of course the people, the team, and how they are working, what they are spending their time on.
Sometimes the company could be doing better, they are facing revenue growth challenges and struggling to win new clients, and something has changed in the market and they have not reacted quickly enough to this change or the sales leader hasn’t. Other times the team need a manager, coach, mentor, to help them be successful. No-one appreciates being micro-managed so there’s a balance in supporting their decisions and empowering and enabling them. Some are very experienced in sales while others are starting out on their sales journey, either way I feel I have something to add.
I’ll have bullish sales targets and need to lead by example rolling up my sleeves. I need to influence others, my direct boss, the team, other directors, perhaps private equity owners, non-executive directors never mind clients and prospects, so this is a key skill.
Currently I am working at Mind Tools, a UK based learning content provider (www.mindtools.com) that works with some incredible brands. They have a very strong presence in USA from 27 million visitors to their site every year looking for professional development advice and support. Mind Tools has understood the new learning trends better than most and grows at 30% year on year, the key is having the ability to keep scaling at this level. Having the right people in the right places and positions is most important as well as robust processes.
Back in 2005 when I started out I had been working for the Corporate Executive Board for about 3 years travelling all over Europe usually 3-4 days per week missing my young family. I started looking for a more local Sales Director role and I realised that one of the weaknesses of my CV having moved job every 2 years was a massive strength for an interim sales career as I had proved transferrable skills and that I could learn new products and services quickly.
I started talking to local business owners about reviewing their sales function and people and got my first paying clients. I quickly set up a company called Jefferson Sales Consultancy Ltd (not very imaginative I know) and I haven’t looked back.