Q&A with Leslie Stretch, President and CEO, Callidus Software, a provider of sales performance platforms which won the Stevie Award for Computer Software Company of the Year in The 2011 International Business Awards. (Entries for The 2012 International Business Awards open in January, request an entry kit and join our mailing list for all Stevie Awards updates!)
What are your top 3 tips for improving sales performance?
1. Hire the right sales people. Hire scientifically using search-and-selection methodology; use social media and video interviews on the web; and hire fast.
2. Coach scientifically. Usually 80% of your sales people will be B players, while 20%— the A players—will bring in 80% of the sales. You need to improve the B players with regular coaching and training sessions. Track and trace the behaviors of your sales staff, comparing B with A. Use tools to build up the coaching plans. Avoid generalist HR reviews. They don’t work with sales people.
3. Make it easier for your sales people to sell, but also make it easier for your customers to buy. If we make things too complicated for the customer, why should they buy? Put everything a sales person needs in one place and make all your information accessible. If you make it easier for the sales staff, you’ll dramatically increase sales.
What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The acquisition by Hewlett-Packard of the British software firm Autonomy. This piece of news fascinates me, as Autonomy is a company that was started by Cambridge University scientists that has now been bought for $12 billion. Silicon Valley seems to be getting bigger, with recent acquisitions such as Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility ($12.5 billion) and ABC News’ alliance with Yahoo!
Do you have a favorite business app?
My favorite application at the moment is our own iCentera, a.k.a. Callidus Central. Wherever I am, I have my Mail open and iCentera, which has all the information about my customers that I need to know. Everyone at Callidus is an iCentera user. It keeps us up-to-the-minute on everything that is happening.
On my phone, I have to say my favorite app is Talking Tom. The cat repeats everything you say in a funny voice yet is very good at picking up accents, even those from the North of England. My wife is from Manchester, so I use the app to create reprimands to my children that they’ll think are from their mother.
If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I’m a frustrated musician and would happily spend more time playing the guitar or the piano.
What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Honesty, loyalty, and persistence. I find that the expectation of a lot of people who come to Silicon Valley is that they are going to phone in rich in just a couple of years. But the reality is that it takes much longer. There are a lot of overnight successes here that actually took a decade or more. Not only does it take a long time, you have to overcome adversity. I admire people who have vision, can see where they are going, and have the tenacity and determination to stick with it.
What do you think is the worst bad habit to have at work?
Managers who take liberties with their staff’s time. As a manager myself, it’s something that I’m afraid I have to confess I do too often, but it’s important to set a line between work and home life and try not to cross it. It’s bad for people if you soak up their personal time. It builds resentment and alienation. It’s counter-productive, yet you think you are being super-productive because you are working out of normal hours.
As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
The job is never done. The vision we have for Callidus Software is to be a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that provides the best tools, is the best company to work for, is the best company to invest in, and is the best company to buy from. I only started on this four years ago, so there’s still a long way to go, but it is the need to make Callidus Software the #1 SaaS company that drives me on.
About Leslie Stretch:
Leslie Stretch is President and CEO of Callidus Software. Under Leslie’s direction, Callidus has transformed into a recurring revenue based business that is the leader in sales talent lifecycle management solutions and business process outsourcing. These solutions include sales selection and onboarding, goal management, incentives and rewards management, and sales talent optimization for the sales force and call centers. At Callidus, Leslie has also pioneered patent-pending methods for successfully using performance indexes to measure and predict propensity for success in hiring different sales roles.
Prior to joining Callidus Software’s executive board, Leslie worked for Sun Microsystems for nine years. At Sun, he held the position of Senior Vice President of Global Channel Sales and was the Managing Director of Sun Microsystems U.K. Ltd. Before joining Sun, Leslie held senior sales positions at Oracle Corporation U.K. and was instrumental in accelerating the growth of its Scottish and Canadian operations. Throughout his career, Leslie successfully directed and motivated large sales organizations and facilitated strategic deals.
About Callidus Software®
Callidus Software is the market and technology leader in Sales Performance Management (SPM). Callidus' award-winning SaaS platform—the Callidus Cloud—is a comprehensive SaaS suite designed to help businesses drive more effective selling at each stage of the sales talent lifecycle, from improved sales hiring—the foundation of strong sales performance—to improved campaign execution, to high frequency coaching and development. The Callidus Cloud suite includes Callidus' 100% multi-tenant, high-availability SaaS infrastructure; its Sales Selection, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Performance, and Learning modules; SPMConnect for data management; and Reporting & Analytics. Callidus Software powers more than 2.5 million users across the globe. For more information, please visit www.callidussoftware.com.