Hello Inside Sales subscribers,
As part of a regular feature for Inside Sales, we'll be conducting interviews with industry sales leaders to gain insight, invaluable advice and motivation. Our latest installment is a Q&A with Dave Levitt, Sr. VP of Worldwide Sales at LiquidFrameworks. The Houston-based company offers mobile field operations applications for oilfield, industrial and environmental service companies.
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Q: Dave, you have had a classically advanced career from AE to sales leader to now, Worldwide VP of Sales. Was this a deliberate path? Any advice for sales reps out there looking to follow in this career advancement?
A: My suggestion to those sales reps that aspire to be sales leaders would be to work to develop empowerment skills. One of the major differences between being a strong individual contributor and that of a sales leader is that a great sales rep needs to be very controlling, and a great sales leader needs to be very empowering. Only when you are willing to totally invest in others’ success can you become an effective leader (in my opinion). In my experience, the transition from salesperson to sales leader is enabled by being able to lead by example; by that I mean, being able to add value to sales situations – even for the most experienced salespeople without pushing the salesperson aside. At the same time, you have to have the empathy to be able to reduce the noise that salespeople hear that distracts them from selling.
Q: You seemed to have stayed in your past positions for quite a while over your career. Do you have a particular philosophy on longevity?
A: Personally, I have always had the philosophy that tomorrow is more important than today. Consequently, I have chosen companies and roles where I have been committed for the long term. It’s easy to get lured by the next great role, but being truly committed to each role for the long-run has served me well. Moreover, I believe that everyone has his/her own “brand,” such that people are buying from people more than from companies. When a person changes positions too frequently, I think it detracts from their “brand” credibility. People tend to prefer to buy from those that will be there to support them in good times and in challenging ones.
Q: Will you tell me a little bit about what LiquidFrameworks does?
A: LiquidFrameworks has emerged as the clear market leader for “quote to cash” field automation systems designed specifically and uniquely for the oilfield/industrial/environmental service markets. Our application suite has enabled companies to eliminate revenue leakage (that comes from mis-priced items on quotes and tickets as well as omitted items from quotes and tickets) and accelerate cash collection (by collapsing the time from job completion to accurate invoice submission – down to same-day invoicing), which has helped them increase their competitive position, revenues and margins. Additionally, FieldFX offers a wide range of functions (including esignature, operator stamp, geolocation and CPQ) without having an internet connection, which is often the case for our customers at well sites or in refineries.
Q: That seems like a really specific market. Is there other competition out there? If so, what makes LiquidFrameworks stand out?
A: Because of our vertical market focus, our competition tends to be horizontal applications that lack the deep domain expertise we offer that manifests itself throughout our application, FieldFX. From a product functionality standpoint, the way we manage our customers’ pricing arrangements (hierarchical price books, which is unique to the energy market) with their customers along with our online/offline capabilities has helped us stand out from these horizontal solutions.
Q: Do you consider your company a startup?
A: At this stage, I no longer view LiquidFrameworks as a “start-up” since we have long since gone past the tipping point of stability. Instead, we are more of a high growth company. With nearly 30,000 users (soon to be 50,000 as our larger customers deploy globally), FieldFX has matured past the start-up phase and well into a high growth trajectory. In my opinion, start-ups are not industry leaders and we are the clear market leader in our space.
Q: What sort of sales culture do you try to create?
A: Our sales culture is one that encourages “everyday excellence". Since we are specialists in a sea of generalists, our customers expect us to be extremely consultative and have a battery of industry best practices that they can leverage. Our sales culture reflects our customers’ need for this level of expertise coupled with a daily urgency and a “customer first” mentality. Because we are vertical in nature, our target markets are very well defined, which enables our sales team to focus on specific challenges they know our prospective customers face and be prepared to help them address these challenges with an application designed specifically for their business, already in use (likely) with several of their direct competitors.
Q: What makes a great salesperson?
A: In a nutshell, I think a great salesperson combines great empathy, conviction and problem-solving skills along with strong communication skills on an everyday basis. Ultimately, the sales rep needs to be multi-lingual to the extent he/she needs to be able to hear and understand the customer’s challenges in the customer’s language, translate them into his/her company’s language, then play back the proposed solution in the customer’s language. At the same time, the great salesperson has a sense for how to quantify the proposed value of his/her solution and be in a position of being able to prove that value will ultimately be consistently delivered.
Q: What sales philosophies/books do you adhere to?
A: I’m a believer in Rick Page’s view that “Hope is Not a Strategy”. I also adhere to Elay Cohen ("SalesHood") and all that he encourages from a sales operations standpoint. My general philosophy revolves around being able to be a peer to the customer’s executive team and demonstrate that you understand its business challenges and that only we are in the unique position of addressing them. If our position isn’t obvious and indisputable, we shouldn’t be there in the first place. I’d rather win 10 out of 10 opportunities than 11 out of 100.
Q: What's your favorite movie? Sales movies?
A: My favorite movie is “The Fugitive” followed by “The Firm” and “Absolute Power” and my favorite sales movie is “Used Cars” followed by “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Tin Men”. In all of these movies, the star has to overcome some adversity, user cleverness and ingenuity to come out on top (except for Glengarry Glen Ross, which is a tragedy).
William Wallace is a sales veteran and journalist with years of experience in such diverse realms as High-Performance Computing, Big Data, education software and SaaS products. When not hunting for the next sales/business opportunity, he is a self-professed foodie and published writer with an abiding passion for all forms of expression.
Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).