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The Evolution of Sales in the UK: An Interview with Our VP of EMEA Revenue

6 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Jun. 19, 2019

Since welcoming our new Vice President of Revenue for EMEA, Ollie Sharpe, last month, we’ve done an even deeper dive into the state of sales in the UK.

Ollie is building out Salesloft’s new European HQ in London. He is charged with overseeing Salesloft’s growth in the European region and growing our trademark world-class culture in the office there.

We caught up with Ollie to ask some key questions about his role at Salesloft, leadership philosophy, and the profession of sales in the UK.

Are values and culture important when evaluating a potential employer? Why did you join Salesloft?

Lots of companies talk about culture and values, but most don’t live by them. It was my main priority to find a company that thought about culture in the same way that I do, and I found it very quickly with Salesloft.

Salesloft’s core values are closely aligned with my own. The team embraces a “glass half full” mentality, puts the customer first, and encourages a “team over self” approach. Similar values had guided me for the previous 10 years at LinkedIn, so it was a perfect fit.

Salesloft core values

Salesloft is not just about making a product to make money. We are delivering a solution that helps people and companies be more successful and achieve their goals. That, along with the company’s core values, was very attractive to me. At its core, sales is about helping others succeed.

The “secret sauce” at Salesloft is how much the company cares for the community we work with – the greater community of sales leaders and sales professionals. We take an interest in advancing and transforming the profession of sales for the good of the sales community, whether it is about our sales engagement platform or not. It is what makes us different, and that is hugely important to me.

What is your message for Salesloft recruits and employees in UK?

Something that I am very passionate about is developing people. One of the reasons I was selected for this role is because I care deeply about developing others in their careers. I’m very culture-focused, and I want to build a culture in the UK that is inspired and informed by the award-winning culture Salesloft has in the US – but with a European focus.

Sales has a lot of room for growth in the UK. It’s still evolving as a profession here. I want to provide an inclusive environment where sales professionals feel that they belong, can be themselves, and know that Salesloft has a sincere interest in their career development.

Can you describe the learnings and experiences from LinkedIn that attracted you to Salesloft?

My experience in the early days of LinkedIn was a big influence when it came to what attracted me to Salesloft. When I started at LinkedIn, I was the only new business salesperson outside of the US. Our small team had to do a lot of educating because our market didn’t yet know what LinkedIn was.

I was on the talent solutions side of the business, so I was approaching and selling to companies that were not set up to use our tool. Companies in the UK hadn’t really built internal recruitment teams at that time. We were a bit ahead of the market, selling a tool for internal recruitment teams that didn’t actually exist. It was a big learning curve.

Once we educated that market on who we were, we had to teach prospects about the functionality of the tool. This was the time I enjoyed most at LinkedIn: selling a product while simultaneously educating the market. It’s exhilarating to be able to effect such change!

I really feel that we will have a similar challenge at Salesloft with sales technology. EMEA is slightly behind the US in terms of thinking about the sales tech stack and, specifically, sales engagement solutions. There’s a lot of opportunity here.

How is the approach to selling different in the UK?

It’s a universally held belief that building trust is the most important thing in modern sales. However, how you build that trust is differs slightly by geography.

I believe that we may be less receptive to sales calls and emails in the UK. In the US, sales communications are more accepted, as is the sales industry as a whole. They have learned how to be more conscious of the quality of sales contacts and being thoughtful in terms of the sales process.

Another element is GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation. It has made it harder to find and access customer prospect details when selling in Europe. As a result, we must improve the quality of our sales interactions in EMEA.

The European communication style is very different. Therefore, we are working on adapting our go-to-market strategy in regards to messaging, processes, and narrative to align with what European customers specifically need.

sales in the UK

What are the biggest opportunities in EMEA for sales engagement technology?

The European market is positioned for tremendous growth once we fully embrace sales engagement and the impact its results can have on a sales team. That is what we are here to do.

Salesloft has a huge market opportunity in EMEA. Education is a large component of our go-to-market strategy over here. We need to help companies understand the problems that their sellers currently face and how Salesloft’s sales engagement platform empowers their teams to improve the quality and efficiency of their sales interactions. Modern sales will transform the profession in EMEA and, in turn, grow revenue for organizations here.

What are the key industries in the UK that can benefit from sales engagement technology?

Sales in the European region is in the midst of a transformation. Old methods of sending blanket communications to hundreds of contacts with irrelevant, generic emails and voicemail messages do not work. Buyers are demanding better. That is where modernization and sales engagement technology comes in.

We can help companies to provide an improved buying experience to their potential customers while building a predictable business. European sellers need a way to have better quality and added efficiency around their sales efforts. This is how Salesloft can help.

Selling into the European market is not a “one size fits all” approach. The market opportunity is significant, and we will tailor Salesloft’s approach to different sizes, verticals, and geographies. I understand that, in the UK, we have fewer startups but a higher proportion of traditional financial institutions, telecom companies, and other firms with large sales teams. They sell traditionally but feel the need to be more effective and differentiate themselves.

Salesloft’s technology will be a big asset. We know we can help drive revenue and deliver better sales experiences for both parties.

Want to learn more about selling in the UK? Don’t miss episode 5 of ‘Hey Salespeople’ with the founder of the UK’s top professional organization for salespeople, James Ski. Be sure to subscribe so you can follow along as Jeremey Donovan interviews the brightest minds in modern sales to bring you immediately actionable advice. Listen and subscribe here.