When Hugo Mahoney took over as Director of Sales and Marketing at Lexis Nexis three years ago, he knew it was going to be a challenge. The company had been selling books, magazines, and other information to legal and tax professionals for more than 200 years, and in simple terms, it needed to change.

“We have an excellent track record of selling these traditional forms of information,” Mahoney explains. “Our goal for the past three years has been to maintain excellence in that area as we develop our technology offering. This is where we provide large corporations with information that is integrated into their workflow. Basically, this means an accountant, rather than If you have to look up the information you need in one of our magazines, you can access it on your PDA. “

These contracts are obviously important pieces of business and have the potential to generate significant long-term revenue for Lexis Nexis, so it is easy to see why they have been so interested in developing that part of the business. However, when Mahoney joined three years ago, it was clear that making the change would not be easy.

“We have had to transform the entire department,” he says. “We had a team of salespeople who had only done transactional sales. They were great at selling books, but had a difficult time accessing key corporate decision makers, understanding their needs, providing appropriate solutions, and building that all-important report. My challenge was change the people, systems and culture of the entire sales and marketing department. “

A career on the hard side

It was a job for which his career up to that point made Mahoney ideal. “I’ve always been drawn to the tough side of sales,” he says, and his CV seems to attest to that. When he left college 20 years ago, he entered the job market during a recession almost as fierce as the one we are experiencing today. I knew I wanted to work in sales, but almost the only industry hiring salespeople in the late 1980s was the pharmacist.

So he cut his teeth in the tough world of pharmaceutical sales, before moving to Coca-Cola to take over the sales department of an underperforming division in the south of England. There are few sales functions that are more competitive than pharmaceutical sales, but with the beverage vending industry, Mahoney managed to find one.

He remained with Coca-Cola for several years, moving to international accounts and then to sell in pubs, bars and restaurants, before joining Energis. It was a telecom provider that had gotten into trouble during the dot-com boom, and Archie Norman was putting together a turnaround management team. It was there that Mahoney first became interested in the business transformation process.

Energis was eventually sold to Cable & Wireless for 2005 and shortly thereafter Mahoney moved to his current position. He now leads a team of 150 salespeople and another 150 in marketing, public relations and customer education.

Find the right people

He considers that, three years later, although he has not reached the final destination to which he wants to take his department, he is progressing well. He says: “We have created a fresh and vibrant culture and on every major metric we are showing good improvement. As part of Reed Elsevier, we do not publish the performance of individual business units, but I can tell you that we have increased our activity by a. 30%. Those people work 30% harder and therefore create more channeling and input. “

He says he achieved that increase in activity simply by telling people that this was what he expected of them. “If you set the bar higher, people will get there,” he says.

He’s also focused heavily on hiring the right salespeople. “The quality of our people is crucial,” he says. “We carry out a rigorous selection process, and we look not only for traditional factors such as market knowledge, talent for networking and excellent communication skills, but also certain qualities. We want people who are curious to know how their clients work, how they earn money. and how we can help them do more. We need people who are motivated, who are flexible in the way they approach sales, who take measured risks, and who demonstrate a sense of urgency in their work. “

How to get to the top

While those are the qualities that, in his opinion, distinguish the best salespeople from their ordinary colleagues, from those who can move from basic transactional sales to relationship-based sales, he has more advice for those who want to reach the same level. . top of the tree in the sales profession.

“Don’t be afraid of hard work,” he says. “I’m here at 7:20 every morning, despite living in Oxfordshire. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work in this game. I don’t believe in luck.”

He continues: “A coach or mentor should also be sought out. Find someone who has ten to fifteen years more experience than you and go to them regularly for advice on what you are doing, where you should be heading, and what decisions you should be making. drink “.

“Remember, too, that life and your career should be about continual development,” says Mahoney. “You never win on last year’s result, so take advantage of all the training and development opportunities you can. Finally, feel free to use your personal network. When I started here, we visited all the managers and asked them to list all of them. people knew who managers were in big corporations. It generated a fantastic list of prospects for us. “

The future

Looking ahead, Mahoney knows he still has a lot of work to do at Lexis Nexis. However, its immediate focus is to overcome the recession. “We didn’t see it coming,” he admits. “Who did it? And there’s no getting around it, it’s hard. Our clients are trying to do more with less, so we need to demonstrate the value we deliver. Ultimately, they are asking us to help them justify the investment. to his colleagues. We need to rise to that challenge. “

He concludes by noting that the recession is not all bad. “It is presenting new opportunities,” he explains. “Many contracts that our competitors had latched onto because their clients were too listless to look elsewhere are now available. As that happens, we intend to be there, ready to show those clients how well we understand their business and how. our product range can benefit them. “

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *