Leadership Q&A – Ricky Chanana

Ricky Chanana is the Head of Sales for Twitch ANZ, where he believes in utilising consumer research, actionable insights and market awareness to help his clients supercharge their digital campaigns and drive business results. Ricky has worked in the advertising industry for over 15 years and has extensive experience on both the buy and sell sides.

Throughout his career at media agencies and publishers, Ricky has worked with major global and local brands within prominent categories, including FMCG, auto, finance and retail.

Prior to joining Twitch, Ricky was the Managing Director of Unruly (News Corp/Tremor) for three years where he led the sales, operations and other business functions. During Ricky’s tenure the business grew to be one of the most profitable (EBITDA) in the APAC region. Before changing lanes into the sales side, Ricky spent 11 years at the buyers’ side. He was at GroupM, with the last years leading Maxus (Wavemaker) investment nationally as Head of Investment.

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

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My first sales role was as an account exec for Mediasmart, the publisher of for the Yellow and White Pages—talk about the heydays of digital advertising!

2. What was the first lesson you learnt on the job?

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This is a cliche for a reason—networks are incredibly important in the sales field.

3. How or why did you become a sales professional?

From my early days selling lemonade in front of my parents’ house to being named employee of the year for customer service in my teens working at McDonald’s, I’ve always had a knack for sales—it’s seemingly built into my DNA. I love conversing, building connections and creating positive outcomes with people in all parts of my life. This coupled with my real passion for commercial acumen and hustler soul made jumping into sales a no brainer.

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

The two most important mantras I live by are:

  • Progression before perfection. I truly believe in this manifesto as time is our biggest, most sacred commodity. Everything you as an individual or a team do has to be accountable—there should be a value proportion attached to your work, with you ready to sell it at any given time. This thinking also helps to continually improve new iterations of your offerings rather than waiting for the perfect solution, as there’s no such thing as ‘being perfect’. For example, steam engines haven’t been reinvented since the 17th century—they’ve instead been consistently evolved in line with customer needs and modern technologies. This analogy should be applied to everything we do.
  • Be your biggest devil’s advocate. This is the only way to keep up and remain relevant as times change. I fundamentally believe that we need to stop sitting in meetings where everyone agrees with everything said, like the group thinks the world is full of waterfalls and rainbows. Don’t kid yourself! Instead, throw tough questions in, be ready for uncomfortable situations and pressure test every scenario. If there is one thing we’ve learnt in 2020, it’s that there’s no such thing as future-proofing!

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

Without a doubt, relationships, honesty and transparency.

Ricky Speaking

6. What did/do you love about sales?

Outside of hitting targets and the multiple benefits attached to this, I get such adrenaline when there’s an all-round positive outcome for every party involved. Any sale is ultimately the byproduct of hard work, multiple meetings, negotiations, contracts and everything else in the middle that’s agreed upon along the way. So at a macro level, you could almost attribute a sale to eternal ‘happiness’.

7. What did/do you dislike about sales?

Winning and losing are essential elements of every sales process. However, my biggest dislike has to be not receiving feedback from a lost deal as it means you can’t truly unpack why you weren’t successful in converting the deal and learnings can be missed. There’s so much emphasis on winning, yet the biggest insights come from losing.

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

This has to be unlocking one of the biggest FMCG clients in a previous role. After spending no money with my team for several years, they became one of our highest-value clients in the ANZ region. This didn’t happen overnight—it was off the back of constantly asking the client for feedback on why they didn’t see us as a partner in the first place. We worked constantly on their feedback and it paid off. I’m proud to say we became their best partner in recent decades.

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

‘People with problems need solutions’. Some time ago, I attended an Elkiem High Performance Masterclass, and this sentiment has stuck with me ever since. Solutions are fairly easy to locate within your arsenal once you know what the exact problem is, so spend time sharpening your axe!

Ricky Interview

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

Know your audience. One size fits all has never worked in the fashion industry and will never work for any organisation trying to keep its customers happy. Be agile, be dynamic and always bring the customer lens to everything you do.

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

The three key attributes of a successful leader are:

  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Like

My advice is to spend your time on the first two elements—once your team trusts and respects you, the last likeability will come automatically. Too often can leaders spend time on getting the team to like them, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean they trust or respect you.

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

Your words should never travel far away from your actions. To foster a high-performing sales culture, you need to lead by example in everything you do. Soft-skills are essential here—empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience for your team and clients are all just as important as objection handling. Success starts from the top, so walk the walk.

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?

Embrace the disruption or be disrupted. Across my advertising career, I’ve tapped into so many industries and have to say this applies to everything we’ve seen in the past decade and what’s coming up over the next 10 years. I’m sure some in the taxi and hotel industries are still scratching their heads on what went wrong, but really, most could see the dominance of Uber and Airbnb coming miles away.

This ladders back to the importance of creating a culture of self-critique. Put your own ideas, offering and solutions through a pressure cooker, then view them through the customer lens. If you’re struggling to be your best devil’s advocate, bring in a third-party for some brutal honesty. Reflecting even on the events of 2020, it’s clear that every organisation needs to have a strong focus on the ‘why’. The stronger the reasons, the wider your choices.

All this said, I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years have in store and I truly believe Twitch is the future of entertainment. Throughout the shelter-in-place restrictions, we’ve experienced an unprecedented surge in the number of hours our audience is watching and all-time high levels of engagements with not just gaming content but also sports, music, entertainment—you name it. People want connection and it’s what our powerhouse community does best. My big, hairy, audacious goal is to cement our place among Australia’s biggest media networks, so watch this space!

14. What are some of the biggest challenges in moving from management into executive leadership?

As your career progresses, you move from a part-time to a full-time delegator and spending time on being proactive than reactive. This is all while being accountable to every function within the organisation. To find true success, you need to embed a leadership team at the management level who are respected and trusted by business and reflect your wider decision-making process.

15. How do you balance life and work?

To be honest, my work-life balance isn’t great at the moment. With the work from home arrangements, I’m still learning to differentiate between where work finishes and home starts. However, I’m getting better at this every day. What’s helping me is to implement walking meetings, move away from my desk every hour or so, and shut all devices for a minimum of three to four hours when the ‘workday’ finishes, like I do when physically working at a place.

16. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m really gifted to be surrounded by some amazing friends and family. Usually, my spare time’s filled with hanging out with them, which sees my wife and I enjoying lots of breakfasts, dinners and even house parties. By no means am I a pro at golf, but I love to hit the greens every now and then. Really, I love a good workout—there’s nothing better than working up a sweat at the gym and getting the endorphins pumping to destress.

About Twitch

Launched in 2011, Twitch is a global community that comes together each day to create multiplayer entertainment: unique, live, unpredictable experiences created by the interactions of millions. It brings the joy of co-op to everything, from casual gaming and world-class esports to anime marathons, music, and art streams. Twitch also hosts TwitchCon, the biggest community event of the year, where tens of thousands of people come together to celebrate and connect with others who share their interests and passions. We’re always live at Twitch. Stay up to date on all things Twitch on Twitter and on our Blog.

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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.