09 May 2016

Squiz Q&A with Sales Director Colin Birney: we're as conscious of being disrupted as our customers are 

Tags:Squiz, Digital Transformation, Culture

We sat down with our national sales director, Colin Birney, for a Q&A on how he’s helping businesses Australia-wide realise their digital visions by taking them on a journey with Squiz.

Squiz: In which office are you based Colin?

Birney: Melbourne

What opportunities have come your way since joining Squiz?

When I started at Squiz six years ago, it was a different organisation; we were very technology-focused on our CMS, Matrix. When I first spoke with Squiz co-founder Steve Barker, it was pretty obvious that I didn’t have a strong technical background. But Steve identified my sales strength, and we’d work together on my tech skills to get me up to speed. So that initial opportunity to come to Squiz was a big one, and one I very much appreciate. Since coming to Squiz, my sales career has progressed a great deal – from a business-development role, to regional sales manager, to national sales director, all of which have been great opportunities.

What factors have helped you get where you are today?

Having really strong working relationships with people and having good people around you as you’re developing are key.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I was really into volcanoes and wanted to be a volcanologist, but when I realised how dangerous that job is, I went in a very different direction. I went on to study banking and finance, and I thought my career was going to be in banking. I actually did work experience in an actuary’s office. But it turns out, I hated banking and finance, and I got out pretty quick. A career in sales was never on the radar until I started working.

What sets Squiz apart from other organisations?

Birney: A lot. One of the key things is the Squiz DNA, a real and tangible thing that everyone who comes to Squiz has in common. There’s also a willingness to go above and beyond for each other and, more importantly, for our customers. There's a desire, sense of pride, and motivation to do great work for our customers. These factors combine to make Squiz unique. Couple that with some great thinking behind the business and a real ability to evolve and change, which are both very important. Like our customers, we’re conscious of digital disruption, and we’re facing it head on. It gives me confidence that Squiz will be around for a long time.

Describe your best sales meetings

Birney: As I mentioned earlier, I get a real kick out of establishing close working relationships with key people. Plus, I enjoy introducing Squiz to new customers and taking them on a journey of discovery – from knowing little about our company to becoming engaged and keen to work with us. Fortunately, this happens a lot, and it’s a huge motivator for me.

What advice would your current self give younger Colin?

Birney: I would tell him to follow his heart and to do what he wants to do – not what he thinks he should do. I would tell him to find things in life that he’s passionate about, because it’s so important. I’d say don’t think of your career as a job; it should be something you really enjoy doing.

I don’t think I ever perceived a job or a career as something to enjoy until I came to Squiz. It’s about thinking less with your head and more with your heart.

Do you have a favourite book?

Birney: I have two – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

What qualities make for an excellent salesperson?

Birney: Empathy is the single most important quality for a good salesperson – by that, I mean the ability to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what their challenges and opportunities are. Then, it’s helping them with those challenges and opportunities. The other key trait is the ability to listen. For salespeople, every meeting should be 20 per cent talking and 80 per cent listening.

Have you had a favourite day at Squiz?

My favourite days are the ones when we’ve achieved the targets we’ve set as a team. Since joining Squiz, we’ve been successful most of the time.

How do you manage work-life balance?

Birney: Work-life balance is absolutely critical to a healthy state of mind. I do try to switch off and focus on family, friends, and outside interests when I leave work. Even though we have always-on access to email, chat, and other systems, I try to set boundaries between work life and home life because it’s important to be present for the other people in your life.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your role?

My job is most rewarding when we get great feedback from customers about helping them achieve their goals with their own customers – whether we help them acquire, better engage, or retain customers. It’s knowing that we’ve done a great job and successfully delivered what we set out to do for them.

Colin will be tweeting his week at work at @lifeatsquiz from May 9 - May 13. Follow along to see what he gets up to on a day-to-day basis.

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