Leadership Q&A – Bill Beedie

Bill’s a believer in sales as a profession and that sales professionals need to be: ever curious; be prepared to invest in themselves; and most importantly be true to themselves.

Bill has been engaged in B2B sales in the Australian ICT industry since 1980, when he was introduced to Honeywell as one of 8 Sales Candidates taken on board for a 12-month introduction to computer sales. Since then Bill has experienced most aspects of the ICT market: hardware; software – application and integration; consulting services; SAAS and Cloud. By industry and by vertical; from Local and State Government through to Federal; selling to small and large multinational enterprises. Always with a focus on sales and sales leadership. As Head of Sales for the ASX listed Augmented Intelligence solutions provider, Houston We Have, Bill is passionate about the sales profession and the importance of professional ethical sales to drive top line revenue.

What was your first sales role and in which industry?
Honeywell Information Systems, one of the original information system heavy weights, hired me as one of 8 candidates to undertake a 12-month sales induction to the computer industry, after which we were allocated to Australian sales teams. My focus was mid-market business.  This was a time when “hardware” was the main driver of IT decisions and the industry was transitioning from mainframes to minis, and business application software was in its infancy.

What was the first lesson you learnt on the job?
From day one, I learnt to be selfreliant, to accept the knock backs, and most importantly, to be myself as I have found consistently over the years that people really do buy from people.

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How or why did you become a sales professional?
My Dad had always been in sales in B2C in the consumer-packaged goods industry as a Sales Director. He had a passion for professional selling and invested large amounts of time in training and educating his sales team and senior managers in professional selling and focussing on the customer. I like to think some of his passion and attitude naturally rubbed off along the way. When the Honeywell opportunity came along, I grabbed it.

How would you describe your approach to sales and what are the values that you live by?

  • Sales is a profession and requires 100% commitment. If you’re not looking to commit then you’ll not succeed, it is simply too competitive. Focus on the customer, look to understand what’s in it for them, will your solution or product really help them? If so, then you have a shot of selling it, if not move on.
  • Your personal integrity is everything. This is especially true today, when we are all digitally visible 24/7. Don’t ever sell yourself short and don’t compromise your values.

In your view, what are the three most important factors that determine sales success?

  • Curiosity – the digital age, social media and emerging AI are transforming the sales process. Buyers are well and truly in control and need salespeople to add value to their business conversation. You need to invest in your own education, stay relevant and keep curious.
  • Perseverance – sales is as much about failure and learning from losing, as it is about winning. Sadly, you will lose more than you win (take a look at any sales pipeline). So, learn from it, learn to qualify opportunities quickly and professionally, know when and how to close, and if you aren’t going to win, then retire quickly and professionally.
  • Integrity – Overwhelmingly you’ll find that people buy from people they respect and trust. You may not win every opportunity, but chances are the people you were selling to will show up again. So, don’t ever, ever burn any bridges.

What did/do you love about sales?
There’s something fantastic about being involved in winning B2B business. There’s a buzz that I’ve never lost regardless of whether I’m selling or leading a sales team. A successful sale means your clients trust you and your team with their business, you’re tied to their future success. Companies with great sales cultures recognise that “everyone” across the business is in sales, and they are there to support our customers have a great experience, so they’ll keep investing in our products and services.

What did/do you dislike about sales?
People not committed to professionally winning the business or getting in the way – I have a very low threshold for these people.

Tell us about your most memorable sale and why.
Wow, tricky… Let’s go with an early career win. When I started with Honeywell, my first account was an Australian based multinational client that had the year before gone with “Big Blue”. They were decommissioning our equipment and no one else wanted it. I was the rookie so it didn’t seem to matter if I wasted my time trying to look for opportunities. However, I was too inexperienced to realise I was wasting my time and struck up a great relationship with one large division’s IT Manager. Together we mapped out a strategy for moving forward with our mid-market technology. It took 5 months, but we secured the internal divisional support of their management team, the CEO and then the Board. I realised later that once they were comfortable that we had the solution and were committed to their success, that they likewise were committed to my success and genuinely wanted to be my first big order. It was very special.

What is the best piece of advice a sales manager passed on to you when you were in sales?
I’ve been fortunate to work with some brilliant, ethical and highly professional sales leaders and the overwhelming message has been one of “be yourself”, give it 100% and don’t compromise your personal integrity.

What do you wish you had known when you first started out in sales that you know now?
I have very few regrets, but if I was talking to myself it would be along the lines of don’t be in too much of a rush for the next big career move, play the longer term and make sure you really have achieved everything you can from your current role before moving onto the next big thing.

What traits do you believe are critical for success in sales management and sales leadership?

  1. When you have the individuals in your team be prepared to support and back them; give them space to succeed and be there to help and guide as needed
  2. When they win then let them shine
  3. Stay focused on integrity and respect of your team members, the company and clients

What is the secret for sales leaders to get the best out of their teams?

  • Trust and integrity – the team need to know you have their back when the going gets tough and you’ll do what you say you will
  • Invest in your team members, they all have their own goals and life objectives
  • Don’t play favourites
  • If something is broken in the business and impacting performance, then fix it

How has your industry evolved in the last 10 years or so and what changes do you see coming in the next 10 years?

  • We are going through unparalleled change. Until recently, staying current meant sales people had to face changes in technology and the impact on client processes and business generally, such as the move to distributed architecture; open systems; cloud applications; and so on. Today’s social media and emerging AI has actually transformed the “Sales Cycle”. Clients today already know about your product and service, they’re not looking for the sales person to “educate”. In fact, that’s a negative. Customers today want the sales person to bring value to their business, to assist in helping resolve their business problems and to provide fresh insights. This fundamental shift means the old sales models are obsolete. There’s no going back so this is absolutely a pivotal time in B2B sales across the world.
  • What an extraordinary time to be involved in B2B sales.

How do you balance life and work?
Sales in the B2B ICT can be demanding and sometimes appear all consuming but, despite the often unreasonable demands, my family has always been the first priority.  I’ve been very fortunate during my career to have an incredibly supportive wife and lifelong partner, who has always been there to provide balance and be the bedrock of our family unit. We have adult 2 sons. We love spending time with family and friends, I’m an avid reader, and walk / run most days – to keep the pulse rate up!

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About Houston We Have

The Houston We Have company is headquartered in Sydney with offices and staff in Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Edinburgh.

Houston We Have services defence and national security, insurance, climate, space, financial services and health industries – focusing on problem resolution and risk mitigation through data-driven modules addressing fraud, compliance and insurance claims.

Houston We Have Patented Software was first developed for the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) which is The Australian Government’s source for global security, weapons of mass destruction, foreign military capabilities, defence economics and transnational terrorism. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) remains its most significant customer relationship.

For more information visit https://www.houstonwehave.ai/

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Joseph Sing
Joseph Sing is the Publisher of Head of Sales. Joseph’s marketing and media sales experience spans more than 15 years across vertical markets such as financial services, medical, legal, information technology, business and HR & recruitment. His clients have included notable organisation such as Google, Facebook, Westpac, CBA, Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow, Deloitte, Pfizer, Novartis, J.P. Morgan, Vanguard, Randstad, Hays and a long list of best of breed vendors. Joseph holds a degree in commerce from Macquarie University with major studies in economics and marketing. He has completed management courses at the Australian Graduate School or Management (AGSM) and communications at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). Joseph worked across many areas of corporate events, publishing and digital media at a senior management level. He has experience in advertising, digital media, industry awards, exhibitions and conferences.