Conor Hyland is an Emerging Success Manager at GoCardless, who has a 10-year career that has taken him across the globe.
Of his 10 years in the sales industry, 7 were spent in the Middle East. Conor’s first role was as a Community Affairs project manager with Microsoft, after which he would venture across to the Middle East. After starting as a Trade Development executive in Dubai for Enterprise Ireland, he would go on to have roles that led him to corporate training, revamping sales and GTM teams, and would speak at live events in front of over 400 people.
After finishing his time in the Middle East with LinkedIn, Conor then went back to Ireland to do his MBA before joining GoCardless after desiring to enter the fintech space.
Conor’s Big Deal did not happen in any of his sales leadership roles, and was not with any Middle Eastern conglomerates but instead with a large credit consolidation company based in the UK.
Using Linkedin Sales Navigator, you can spot if someone in your CRM has recently changed roles - this can be a great sign that they are in a new company and trying to drive change and improvements. Conor had used this to spot a finance director doing just this, and someone who happened to be a top customer of the business from previous roles.
Conor and his team are always strategizing around the best way to deliver the ‘message’ through outbound sales. Timing is everything, and in this scenario, it can be very important to get in early, as part of the driving for change can mean that the new role is looking at better vendors or solutions for the business.
A huge part of this message that is being delivered is not only how you can help this potential customer, but also how you have done it for previous customers. With a dedication to research beforehand, you can find the best M1s that make your message resonate the best,
“When I have done all this preparation ahead of time, I am already in such a good position to drive value from day 1,” says Conor.
Through discovery, you can find the high-level problems, the high-level pains, and the people who it affects.
By using MEDDPICC, Conor saw the pain points the customer was encountering, with high overheads and rapidly growing inefficiencies. Utilizing these pain points, he found his Champions from the most crucial areas of the business, whether it was in financial or technical areas. This not only gave Conor a good base for understanding but also positioned him for introducing the right person at the critical time of the deal.
“You can individually have stakeholders say “yeah, this is great” and then all of a sudden you get them all in the room and it doesn’t quite work,” says Conor. “On an individual level it is about understanding their pain and challenges, but then acting as the facilitator in the room with all of them, driving consensus through all the teams.”
Conor notes that a Champion can be a co-facilitator in this deal, and in this case, someone new who is in the business is encountering teams that have done the same processes for several years. In most cases, they will be trying to drive a consensus too.
“They have to build that momentum internally, so whilst you understand that they are your Champion, you have to remember those other people that are maybe blockers for the deal.”
Conor’s Big Deal took just 6 months from outreach to close, and a huge part of the time efficiency in this deal came from the deep level of understanding of the pain the customer was facing.
A big part of having a strong Champion comes in the way you can uncover their pain, something that goes beyond discovery questions or any kind of preliminary research. Discovery and validation questions down the line can be “momentum drivers”, something that ultimately leads to getting the right people in the same room to create consensus and facilitate change.
When asked about how he drove urgency in this deal, Conor says: “By understanding the pains you can get to a place of “why now”, so by driving momentum, understanding the pains, and holding people accountable to the “why now” and keep circling back to that.
Another aspect of driving urgency and getting the deal done quickly was the way Conor kept ahead of legal paperwork. Once you have driven the urgency of the above, it is hard to argue when you want the customer to get the ball rolling on legal documents in parallel to further discussions.
“It’s one thing having it in a huge pile on a legal’s desk, it’s another having it right in front of them and having them working on it. It’s a tricky one, but the earlier it starts the better.”
Despite the huge success, Conor is a seller who is always reflecting on how things could have been done better or improved the chances of success in a deal.
One way that stood out to him was gaining C-level alignment earlier on in the deal, potentially “moving me up by a couple of weeks, and giving me that foothold in a deal which I could have used.”
The second key reflection was uncovering legal. Whilst Conor felt he has uncovered the board, he wasn’t able to uncover the priority for legal and therefore was not a priority for the customer’s legal team during the deal.
“Yes you can have a contract on legal’s desk, but where is it on the desk? Is it at the top, on the bottom of the pile, and it’s trying to uncover that as well, which is a hard question to ask when you know it is with legal.”
The piece of advice Conor could give himself in hindsight of the deal would be to “trust the process.”
“When we’re coming into a macro-environment when things are tough, you might want to take a deal that falls onto your lap and go through it as quickly as possible, without taking a deep breath and saying “let’s go through the process” and let's deliver each step and stage, not just from a sales perspective but from a customer one too, to make sure they have everything they need through each step.”
“If you normally try and skip through steps in the deal, the deal will usually just dissipate and disappear, so my advice to myself now would be to trust the process, put systems in place, and deliver and execute every day.”
Going even further back to ten years ago, the advice is similarly all-encompassing.
“I would say “be kind to yourself”, salespeople put the most pressure on themselves more than most. When I look across the ten years, there are two things”, Conor pointed out.
“The way we do anything is the way we do everything, and one is our brand, from the day we enter a sales organization to the day we retire from a sales career.
“How you show up every day is how people will talk about you, what they say about you when you’re not in the room. When you are younger and money is rolling in, it is easy to forget how you are showing up in front of other salespeople.
“Focusing in on your brand, focusing on delivering every day, and focusing in on how kind you are to yourself when things do not go great.
“As the saying goes, we’re living for that 30%, the other 70% is losing so you have to have thick skin and be ready to get up and go again.”