We’d like to introduce you to some of the people from around the world who make us who we are. In this post, meet Eduard Smeets, a senior enterprise account manager, based in our office in the Netherlands.
No matter whether you are a small-business owner on a budget or a large government organization investing thousands in its infrastructure, Eduard can help you achieve your goals through the best technology.
Since he joined Progress in 2015, after a decade in marketing and sales, he has been responsible for a diverse group of customers in the Benelux region.
“I love it that one day I am talking to a family owned small coffee business of 60 people and on the next day, I am talking to a large enterprise. Seeing firsthand how our technology empowers organizations of various sizes and verticals means a lot to me,” he said.
In his free time, he plays volleyball and likes—when it is not too early in the morning—to take his daughters to soccer, where he drinks coffee and jokes with other dads.
Many people think that we are always after getting the deal closed and quick wins, but in reality, it’s different. We at Progress want to understand the customer’s pain first in order to be able to offer the best solution and win. We invest in building a strong relationship and try to give them enough time to make the decision that will better meet their needs, without unnecessary pushing. Of course, sometimes you need to push a little when things stay in the air too long, but overall, we are staying away from the aggressive approach, which was quite popular in sales in the past decades.
Perseverance and empathy. In addition to being well-versed in speaking, you need to be a good listener. Only when you listen carefully, you can ask the right questions and help the customer open up and share more about their plans. Then, knowing more about what they need, you can work with them towards achieving the same goal. It’s also very important that you let the customer talk and try not to fill in pauses. Sometimes people need the time and space to reflect on what they’ve just heard or what they are about to say. Pauses are fine.
Yes. Two things I would like to mention. The first thing is that I want to understand what our software can do for our customers and how it can add value, the value sweet spot. This is what all bits and bytes will do for the customer and make his day more pleasant.
The second point I want to mention is a quote I often heard at the office: “Without friction, there is no shine.” Sometimes you have to provoke or enter a situation that you know will lead to a conflict, only to achieve a win-win situation for all and get to a better place. This might mean bringing up issues that people are trying to avoid or leading hard conversations. It’s the same at home—sometimes I have to push my daughters to do their homework and they might not like it, and we even might have some hard words. But in the end, they are happy that they’ve done it, and they receive a good grade from the teacher.
I love the adrenaline when a customer and I agree on a path and come to an agreement as well as when I see that I’ve achieved the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s important for me to know where I stand. Like in volleyball, I am on a team and I am the hitter—I have to smash the ball. There is no moment for rest when I hit the ball. But I need the setter to give me a good ball to smash (e.g. pre-sales) and we need a blocker (legal) to defend the ball. So it is really a team effort when you win. And I know people are counting on me when I smash the ball outside the field, in sales this means losing the deal.
The other thing I love about being in sales at Progress is that no two days are the same.
I came to Progress from a stock exchange company, two, five times smaller. I fell in love with the culture and the international atmosphere at Progress in the Dutch office. Here you can meet people from all parts of the world—Germany, France, Spain and even Mexico.
Also, I was surprised by how much the company invests in its people. Progress provides training for us in sales so that we can continuously develop our skills, stay current and become better at what we do.
When I joined the company, I took over the customer portfolio of Stephan Leferink, who is now sales director for Central EMEA Progress. He taught me a lot about sales. One of the most important things I’ve learned from him is that you can be successful in sales in a polite way, away from the “hit and run” mindset.
Another important thing I’ve learned is that you should avoid fights at any cost. When you fight, everyone loses. If you achieve your goal, but the customer isn’t happy, most probably you’ll lose them in a year, when their license is over. If the customer is happy, but you haven’t achieved your goal, then you are at a loss. Both the customer and you have to work towards a common goal. Finally, patience is key. Give customers time to think over what they need and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Normally in the pre-COVID-19 world, I used to spend a lot of time travelling to customers’ offices—even longer than the actual meetings lasted. Now that this no longer happens, I have more time for example account planning. Also, I started to read much more—something for which I never had time before. I wouldn’t say I have more time for my family now, because I’ve always put my wife and my two daughters first and prioritized spending time with them.
While working from home for such a long period is new to all of us, I can say that Progress made it a pleasant experience. I’m impressed of how caring, considerate and flexible the company has been to us in the past months. For example, we received chocolates. Webinars and virtual activities on different themes were organized to keep us connected. Progress even gave us a thank-you day off, June 5, so that we can enjoy some time away from work.
To get to know other Progressers like Eduard, read more of our Progress employee interviews here.
Aneliya Stoyanova is part of the Global Communications team at Progress. She has extensive experience in the technology media and communications field. A news junkie and technology lover, she enjoys writing and finding the best way to communicate across all exciting news around Progress.
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