Welcome to Part 1 of our new mini-series, Real Talk with a B2B Sales Leader, a three-part interview series designed to get the perspectives of veteran B2B sales leaders from varying industries. Today's episode features SmartBear Software Director Miles Kane.
We're thrilled to have Miles joining us and hear his insights on scaling a tech startup globally. Miles has spent the last 2+ years building and scaling SmartBear’s Ireland-based sales team from scratch, serving as Director of the company’s EMEA region, which encompasses Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Altogether, Miles has over 7 years of sales experience with the fast-growing tech company, the last 4 of which have been in a sales leadership role.
Our discussion with Miles focuses around some pivotal topics for tech sales leaders looking to find great candidates, figure out how to scale quickly and aggressively take over a new market. Miles also offers some great insight into the growing tech scenes outside of Silicon Valley, in places like Boston and the Emerald Isle.
Our deepest thanks to Miles for participating in this interview. If you work in technology sales, you don’t want to miss this 15 minute interview. Just click the link to listen in.
Part 1. An Interview with Miles Kane
1. Miles’s Background with SmartBear: 0:00 - 2:28.
Synopsis: Miles was the company’s 8th employee in its Boston office, starting as a junior sales rep with a phonebook. Over the past 8 years, he’s grown with the company from 8 employees to 300+.
During that time, Miles watched the company grow from kicking a soccer ball around, trying to figure out the best ways to sell the product, to developing a full-scale sales onboarding and SmartBear is in the software quality market - selling tools focused on increasing the quality of user application, getting releases off more quickly and improving ROI for companies on their technology.
2. Miles’s Recruiting Strategy for SmartBear: 2:28 - 8:13.
Synopsis: When Miles look at candidates, he focuses on a “3 C’s Approach.” Curiousity, coachability and competitiveness. Those are 3 of the personality traits and backgrounds that SmartBear looks to source for.
As far as experience, Miles always likes to see a few years of software closing experience. The typical profile is someone in their mid-20s with a few years of experience who is ready to take that next step up.
As far as software, it’s a fairly easy sell, since software is taking over the world. In Miles’s mind, there are two types of companies - tech companies and everyone else. And the “everyone else” are often really tech companies in a sense, too. And SmartBear provides the tools behind them.
Going back to the 3 C’s, Miles looks to tease out examples of “competitiveness” in candidates’ backgrounds. As to curiosity, if a candidate comes in and has no questions for Miles about the company, the product or Miles himself, that’s a red flag since it indicates they weren’t inquisitive enough to do prior research on the company before the interview.
The most important aspect to sales success is the “coachability” aspect. A great tip from HubSpot’s Mark Roberge -- he actually has interviewees go through mock sales calls right on the spot. It catches people off guard and they usually fumble and screw up.
But then Roberge provides tips and insight on what they can improve - then they run through it again. And Roberge is looking to see if the person makes the same mistakes again or if they improve. If they improve, that’s a great sign of coachability.
3. How to Grow with a Startup: 8:13 -11:06.
Synopsis: Miles got the opportunity with SmartBear somewhat fortuitously and was pushed to interview and join the company by Jim McDonough, who now heads the sales team at event management startup, Attend.
A lot of the traits Miles developed growing up ended up grooming him to become successful in sales. He worked as a golf caddy, waiter and bartender, which were all customer service, business development and networking.
He was extremely competitive, playing a number of different sports and playing basketball competitively for Suffolk University for several years. All of those roles helped develop the skill set and persona that would help him excel at sales.
Once Miles saw that the company was onto something in the first few years, he realized it was an amazing opportunity for him to grow his own experience and develop professionally alongside it. Which is why he jumped at the opportunity to help lead the company’s European expansion.
4. Building Client Relationships: 11:06 - 13:48.
Synopsis: The whole sales model has shifted to the power of the buyer. And the biggest message Miles coaches his reps on is that the actual hardcore selling piece is done by the product.
SmartBear prospects can download a free trial, using the product for the first couple weeks without even talking to a rep and going online and comparing us to our competitors. So by the time they speak with a rep, they’re already very close to buying.
And that is where it’s so critical to start building that customer relationship and rapport. Not just for the initial sell, but to build the foundation for future growth within the client.
SmartBear tend to have a very transactional initial sale, with a very few seats, but then follow a “land and expand” model to grow within all corners of the client’s company.
5. Using Content to Attract Candidates: 13:48 - 14:50.
Synopsis: Miles started a blog called, MLKinIRE.com. It ended up getting some traction locally and generated some nice business for SmartBear, as well as attracting a few candidates who ended up becoming members of SmartBear’s Ireland team.
It was interesting - in terms of international expansion, most people outside of Ireland know that Ireland is known as the “Silicon Valley of Europe,” but they think all the innovation is taking place in Dublin.
But other places in Ireland, like Galway, where SmartBear is located, also have a growing tech scenes that are much more affordable.
The Blog has served to help attract high-quality sales candidates from Dublin (2 hours north) to SmartBear and to Galway by highlighting SmartBear’s mission and the attractiveness of their locale.
Part 2 of Real Talk With a B2B Sales Leader
Thanks again to Miles Kane for a phenomenal interview. Join us tomorrow when Part 2 of our series goes live, and we discuss scaling a logistics broker team with Fitzmark Business Development Team Leader, Matt Freel, who uses Ambition's sales performance management platform to drive productivity, culture and retention across his brokerage team. To learn more, schedule a demo.
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