Interview with Francois Stoop, Vice President of Sales Europe at First Insight Inc.

 

Interview with Francois Stoop

Francois Stoop joined First Insight Inc. last year as Vice President of Sales for Europe and brings a wealth of sales experience to his role, particularly in driving revenue for US based technology companies in Europe. Founded in 2007, First Insight Inc. is a cloud-based technology company providing technology platforms for predictive retail analytics. Francois recently spoke with Sam Thomason, Associate Director at Michael Page Sales about his career to date, his approach to sales and how the role of a sales director has evolved in the digital age.
 

Please tell us a little about your career to date

 
I have spent most of my career in the retail and fashion industry with roles in sales, consulting and sales management. I started out with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young driving retail sales in France before joining TradeCard where as vice president EMEA I drove European revenue for the high growth innovative software company. Having developed my skills and industry knowledge in high level roles at industry leading companies I founded my own company, based in London, to accelerate US software expansion in the EU by way of a set of sales, operations and consulting services. Then I met with First Insight.
 

Why did you choose the role at First Insight?

 
The first answer is the solution they offer. It is a highly innovative approach on how to deliver value to a retailer using the voice of the consumer and predictive analytics algorithms. In any sales role confidence in a product is important and this was a key factor for me. The people and workplace values at First Insight also helped to make it an easy decision to accept the role.
 

What is most rewarding about your role?

 
We are addressing the core of retail business issues and therefore conversing with high-level people in the companies we deal with. There is a great sense of solving real issues within the retail/fashion industry; issues with which I am all too familiar given my extensive background in technology sales.
 

What does an average day look like for you?

 
No day looks the same. I can spend a full day travelling Europe to meet with prospective and existing customers, or I can spend a full day meeting with my team and discussing strategy. One thing that is typical is working late into the evening; the time difference with the US makes this necessary.
 

What type of person is most successful at First Insight?

 
To be successful in any company you first need to embrace the workplace values, you need to work hard and effectively but it’s also important to have fun. In this industry a strong retail/fashion background is important; the ability to articulate the correct message in a complex solution selling environment is paramount.
 

What have been the key changes in the sales industry in recent years?

 
Digital, digital, digital. It has never been so easy to source leads and contacts and approach them with a complete proposition. Nowadays the difference maker is the ability to approach with a tailored message detailing the difference you can bring to a customer and the real value you can deliver. 
 

Has the required skill set of a sales leader changed in this time?

 
Not really. A good sales leader still needs to lead the way with creativity and be strong in sales. You also need a deep understanding of the challenges business are facing in your industry and how your solution brings value. However I would say that the role it is becoming more about teamwork rather than managing individual performance. When it comes to collaborating with and influencing others I am a great fan of the SCARF method: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness, developed by David Rock, director and CEO at the NeuroLeadership Institute.
 

What simple advice would you give to those people aspiring to be a sales leader?

 
Have the basics mastered, listen more than you talk and work hard. Remember that a leader’s role is to support, not to control. Managing change is a key part of the role; implementing new processes, managing operational costs and solving workplace issues are all areas which will be important.
  • Operational costs – Think of it as your own money, it is a question of mindset
     
  • Implementing new processes – Always ensure to identify an appropriate sponsor. Find a leverage point for each department involved and lay the groundwork for the integration process. Always ensure to include change management from the outset and monitor the process constantly
     
  • Solving workplace issues – Don’t wait until the problem grows; always tackle issues as early on as possible. Bring everyone affected around the table and organize an open discussion with the team with one goal in mind: everyone needs to find a positive way out.
 
For a confidential discussion about recruitment options in the sales please contact Sam Thomason, Associate Director at Michael Page Sales.
 
Sam Thomason
T: 0207 269 2128