Leadership Q&A – Albert van Wyk

Albert van Wyk is the Regional Director at GBG Australia and New Zealand and is responsible for driving the strategic direction and sales execution for the enterprise division.

Albert is fanatical about his work, striving to deliver value to companies he works with and the people within his team. He brings extensive expertise across Banking, Financial Services and Insurance and core focus areas in Financial Crime, Fraud, Data, Analytics and Identity.

In his free time, Albert is a passionate target rifle shooter and volunteer, serving as Director of NRAA, Chairman of the Victorian Rifle Association and Vice-Captain of the Australian F-Open Rifle Team,

(1) What was your first sales role and in which industry?

My first sales role was when I left South Africa in 2006 and moved to New Zealand. I had to find a job pretty fast to secure a work permit and found myself selling EFTPOS terminals to small retailers. The role was entirely phone based and taught me incredibly valuable lessons in how to be successful as a salesperson. 

(2) What was the first lesson you learnt on the job?

My first lesson as a sales professional was that input equals output. It’s a rather simple one, but one that had a huge impact, especially in a role that offered remuneration directly linked to my efforts. If I put in the work, hit the phones, engage with clients, follow up on my leads with determination and grit, the dollars will start to roll in. I understood very quickly that if I apply this simple lesson, I could take control of my own destiny and be in control of how much money I get to take home every month. With a young family at the time, this was incredibly valuable. 

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(3) How or why did you become a sales professional?

What’s interesting is that I didn’t become a sales professional by choice. I moved to New Zealand 15 years ago and I needed a job. However, once I fell into sales, I never looked back.

Sales is the only profession that can shape the culture of an organisation. As salespeople, we get to engage with everyone across an organisation, be it the product development team, operations, marketing, procurement, customer service etc. The culture of the sales team will shape the overall culture of an organisation. In a nutshell, the sales team has the power to drive a high-performance culture, and to shift and lift a culture through accountability.

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

My approach to sales is two-pronged. Firstly, in order to be great at selling, one has to be inquisitive. You have to be curious about what are the challenges of your clients, understand their pain points and their long-term goals. Being a great sales professional goes beyond just closing deals. It’s about providing solutions to your clients.

By being curious and genuinely wanting to know about your clients, you will be able to unlock trust and value. The clients will quickly understand you are committed to their success and will start to see you as their partner, an extension of their team. If you can unlock trust as a sales professional, your clients will keep coming back to you, even if you don’t close that deal today.

In terms of the values I live by, I’m a man of my word. If I say I’m going to do something, you bet I will follow through with it. It makes me reliable, it builds trust with my team, clients, and other stakeholders. I don’t over-promise and under-deliver and if I make a mistake, I’ll own up to it.

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

In my experience, the three most important factors are:

Taking action – to be successful in sales, you need to have the willingness to spring into action and be proactive about it. You can’t afford to sit back and wait. You need to have the willingness to make phone calls, go door-knocking if you have to, engage with your clients, etc.

Curiosity – if you ask the right questions, you will uncover your client’s pain point and therefore will be in a better position to offer the right solution for them

Drive – a successful sales professional is also one who has a never-ending hunger in the belly. This hunger is what will keep you going, hit those numbers and build up your sales pipeline.

(6) What did/do you love about sales?

What I find the most exciting and rewarding is when I get to see how my clients, or others are positively impacted by the solutions I provide to them. Especially in my current role at GBG where we help create an environment where everyone can transact online with confidence by reducing the risk of fraud, there is a bigger societal impact to what we do. Cyber criminals and fraudsters use stolen money to trade children, slaves, drugs. To know that in my role at GBG I am contributing to putting an end to this, is deeply rewarding.

(7) What did/do you dislike about sales?

The perception that people have of sales professionals is what I don’t like. We are often seen as manipulators, liars and money-driven vultures. And to defy this perception comes with the job, day in day out.

(8) Tell us about your most memorable sale and why.

The biggest highlight of my sales career is when I closed a multi-million deal with one of the four banks, at a company where the average order value was $10K. It took 18 months and multiple conversations across the organisations to find out how each department would benefit from the software I was selling at the time, in order to finally get it over the line.

(9) What is the best piece of advice a sales manager passed on to you when you were in sales?

The best advice I received very early on in my career was that there are multiple ways to achieve success in sales, depending on your personality, the industry you’re in, what you’re selling etc. Very often, once sales professionals reach their high, they think they’ve unlocked the secret formula to closing deals. And they tend to believe that their approach is the only approach that works, which is not true.

So, it’s important to be open-minded to other people’s approaches, learn from them and keep evolving your own formula for success.

(10) What do you wish you had known when you first started out in sales that you know now?

I wish I had known that I didn’t need to buy the most expensive suit and tie for people to take me seriously. While how you present yourself as a salesperson is important, it’s not what will impress your stakeholders. 

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

Support – Get to know your team and their preferred ways of working. Provide the support, resources and training they need and commit to their success and their professional development. Ultimately, you are only as successful as your sales team

Accountability –  Hold yourself and your team accountable and be ready to have the hard conversations. 

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

Clarity of message is of utmost importance. Very often, the reason why sales teams don’t deliver is not because they are not hardworking or don’t have the right skills. It’s because they didn’t understand the tasks, the products, or how to cross-sell or up-sell.  As such, it is important to also foster a culture where your team feels comfortable to ask questions when in doubt or if they need clarifications on anything before sending them out on the field.

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

Fraud detection and identity verification have taken on a new meaning altogether in the past decade. With financial crimes on the rise, organisations across the globe are increasingly relying on technology to protect their businesses and customers against rapidly evolving financial crimes. Organisations both large and small are increasingly looking for comprehensive identity verification and fraud prevention practices to try to keep up with the rapidly evolving threat landscape. 2020 has particularly been a pivotal year for identity-based fraud. COVID-19 created both a global healthcare and economic crisis, making the environment ripe for sophisticated fraud rings to capitalise. 

In the next 10 years, the use of Artificial intelligence (AI) to fight fraud will become even more widespread in identifying fraudulent transitions and strange behaviours. It will be increasingly possible to analyse thousands of technological and behavioural data points in a matter of seconds. However  according to some reports, fraudsters will start to use fake faces for biometric verification whereby these “Frankenstein IDs” will use AI to combine facial characteristics from different people to form a new identity, creating a challenge for businesses relying on facial recognition technology as a significant part of their fraud prevention strategy.

(14) How do you balance life and work?

By setting clear boundaries, for myself and for those around me. You have to create your own work-life balance, it won’t just happen. I make sure I take the time for myself. For example, every Friday, I commit to working from a remote location in the country. A weekly change of scenery keeps me feeling refreshed and this translates in my work as well. I’m more energised and it makes me more effective.

(15) What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a competitive rifle shooter and I grow strawberries on my farm to make delectable jams.

About GBG Plc

Headquartered in the UK and with over 1,000 staff across 16 countries, GBG Plc specialises in digital identity and fraud solutions. Its technology helps clients transact quickly, safely and securely with their online customers. Many of the world’s best-known businesses rely on GBG to provide digital services and keep the economy moving, from US e-commerce giants to Asia’s biggest banks and European household brands. 

For more information visit https://www.gbgplc.com/apac/

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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.