Management Motivations is a new series of articles by Quectel’s senior executives that explores their management styles, approaches to the challenges of further developing the company and what drives them to lead and succeed.
Peter Fowler, Senior Vice President, North America Region
Number 1: Data and determination drive sales success
I graduated university in the recession of the 1980s and began my career with hard core door-to-door sales to businesses of photocopiers. The way to be successful was to have daily, weekly and monthly key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the activities that best predicted success. These included the number of businesses I approached via on-site cold calls, the number of product demos to prospects and the analysis of closing ratios.
Database management was vital because a business typically only needed to buy a replacement photocopier when the lease on their existing copier was about to expire. This required me to follow a rudimentary database to track when the lease would be up for each company on each street. In my first full year, I was the top door-to-door salesman in our Canadian subsidiary and, after 18 months, I moved into sales management eventually becoming a district manager in Toronto managing 52 staff by the age of 28. I was a national sales manager for Panasonic copiers by the age of 32.
The photocopier industry is considered mid-tech while technology companies developing cellular devices, such as Quectel serves the high-tech industry. I had my eyes opened to high-tech as, having graduated university in Washington State, my close friend started out in a low-level job at Microsoft and became a multi-millionaire inside a decade. I had learned of Sierra Wireless as the copier division of my employer, Panasonic, was part of the computer division which used Sierra’s modems in rugged notebooks for police vehicles.
I first became an investor in Sierra Wireless and, when the stock did so well, I decided to seek a role with them. Compared to enterprise customers who would spend on average less than $25,000 annually, it was a dream come true to work with technology companies such as Compaq, as well as mobile network providers who would buy millions of dollars of products. The market values of technology companies meant there was a lot at stake, which created a pace and excitement where I was exposed to some really smart and impressive people. As technology companies are more product focused, the structure in the sales management process and methodology tend to be more of an afterthought. I saw an opportunity to add value by bringing much needed ‘sales management 101’ models to my product-focused high-tech employers.
The purity in sales is that the results are measured and the contribution is impossible to ignore. Revenue growth is a key aspect of how companies are valued, so if someone can develop the skillset to generate more growth than others, their value is recognized. I learned selling copiers that if I worked until late each night and on weekends, I could rise to the top of the leaderboard, competing against those working fewer hours with less organization.
That ability to control if I succeed or fail has always appealed to me. I am not interested in playing politics or being in a bureaucracy where nothing that you do can make a difference. My ambition is to measure those behaviors that are most likely to contribute to success. The hours you work are, of course, the easiest for you to control and, since the ship sails at the speed of the captain, it also sets the tone for the entire organization.
I joined Quectel because I saw an opportunity to contribute to company value by successfully expanding its market share to the North American market. Quectel had less than 1% US market share before I joined yet my counterpart Dominikus Hierl in Europe, who has since generated number one share in EMEA IoT, had already proven that there was a void in the western markets that Quectel was able to fill. Quectel CEO and founder, Patrick Qian, had demonstrated a committed and ambitious plan to build leading market share in all global markets by having the largest R&D and engineering support organization needed to best serve customers. All I needed to do was to make the North American market aware of the products and support. This was achieved by implementing structured and defined methodology on sales and support engagements.
Joining Quectel has been rewarding as the company culture our CEO and my boss, company president Norbert Muhrer, implemented is focused on investing in whatever it takes to serve our customers. Joe Peterson who had worked with Norbert and I having been my peer managing APAC previously, had joined me in building US market share previously and significantly extended our influence. Since we joined Patrick in the effort to expand US market share, we are told more Quectel devices have entered and exited US carriers' labs than any competitor's devices. We have in three short years exceeded prior sales levels when formerly at a competitor.
Look out for my next blog when I will be discussing: “Lead by example to foster a sales culture of continuous improvement”.