An Interview With Our Head of Sales Tom
Bringing a completely new product to market is no easy feat. We are therefore very happy to have found a new colleague in our Head of Sales Tom, who combines a strong sales drive with technical know-how and a relaxed attitude. We interviewed him to get his perspective on the exciting current phase at sewts.
Hi Tom, thanks for your time! First of all, would you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Tom Fahning, I’m Head of Sales at sewts and I started here in June. Before that I was a site manager at a company called Sonovision, which is an engineering company for technical documentation and temporary work among others. Originally, I studied electrical engineering for process automation and power engineering.
Why did you decide to join sewts?
I received a nice message from HR at sewts and was just looking for a new job anyway. The kind communication with Teresa made me take a closer look at the company and I got “stuck” with it, as I was absolutely interested in working in a startup. The decision was actually the best for me, because here you are able to be involved in everything, you learn a lot and take a lot with you, the cooperation is completely different compared to larger companies, you have the opportunity to help shape things and only people who know what they are doing and are experts work here. I can go to anyone here with any question and even if he or she doesn’t know the answer, I’ll be helped to find it.
Those were the deciding factors. The subject matter is of course another benefit, i.e. you have a great system, an exciting task and a common goal in this company, which made the decision very simple for me.
Where do you see the greatest strengths of the technology developed by sewts?
For me, the biggest strengths are obvious: automation through artificial intelligence and the fact that we have made things possible that larger companies have previously failed to do.
Another great strength is our vision, and I look forward to helping shape it.
Your position as Head of Sales is new to the company. What are you focusing on in your first few months?
In the first few months, I focus on being the face and contact person for our company and getting known to customers. I take up the contacts we already have and then, in the next step, I am also working on acquiring new contacts in order to fill our sales pipeline well.
What are the biggest challenges when you want to launch a completely new product?
The biggest challenge at the moment is to gain the trust of our customers. Due to many supply shortages and difficulties in delivering and setting up new systems, it is not easy to convince customers that we can work more reliably in this respect and have set-up times of 3 to 6 months, for example. The easiest way to do this is to have the system live in action at the customer’s site in a few weeks, so that other customers can see on site how it works and, above all, that it works.
The first delivery of VELUM is approaching shortly. Give us some insight into what’s coming after this milestone!
The next milestone, after we have sold the last contingent of the pre-order system, will be to supply the customers who are interested but waiting for the first system to be installed. We have a delivery time of 3 months up to a half year here due to the supply shortages of certain components. We expect 15 new customers and/or 15 systems or dual systems in the next year.
In your experience, what tools are essential for building a sales force?
The CRM of course, we currently use Hubspot for this. The CRM is essential for the project, both the correct maintenance and constant contact with customers through the CRM as well as the constant plotting of it.
In addition, task management tools or wikis such as Confluence, which we use, are also very helpful.
There are also other helpful applications such as Dubb, a tool I use all the time, which can be used to reach customers who would otherwise be hard to catch.
What advice would you give to other startups that are currently building a sales process?
Bring know-how into your company, so hire people with experience. They don’t necessarily have to be “old” people, I wouldn’t call myself “old” now either, but it’s always good to get some know-how.
Combining a fresh idea with people who have already proven themselves in the market is always a good solution.
What are your main goals for Sales at sewts by the end of 2022?
For one thing, my goal is to deliver our pre-order systems and have the ordering process completed for that, and for another, to be able to convince customers who have a serious interest in our system through the pre-order systems that have already been set up. I want to be able to build on this in 2023 and fill the sales pipeline well.