When Erik joined Funnel in 2016, we were 17 employees and when this interview takes place, we’re 120+ colleagues - talk about a growth journey!
Hi Erik :) thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself! What has your career journey looked like until this point?
Thank you for having me! I started once upon a time at Salesforce in Singapore as a Sales Representative, and I got to see how one of the most innovative companies in the world did inbound sales and in many ways started the SaaS industry. What Salesforce did was groundbreaking in so many areas, and I probably would have stayed at the company if I hadn’t felt the need to study. After my studies, I got my first startup gig: the founder of a water purification company called Bluewater got in touch with me and I became his first employee. This role had me doing everything from running the coffee machine to marketing, sales, and recruiting. At one point I was even in charge of a 20-person factory. It was all very exciting and a little scary too. I think I’ve never learned as much in as short a time. Everything I did, I did for the first time. I loved the versatility of the role, and would recommend that startup experience to anyone.
Wanting to get back into the scalability and fast pace of software, I accepted a role at Google European HQ in Dublin. At Google, I worked with some of the biggest advertisers in the world, and realized that they all had a problem: they couldn’t measure their digital marketing investments. By sheer luck, I got in touch with Pelle (Funnel co-founder) and the rest is history.
Why did you fall in love with Funnel?
I knew this was a major problem, something no other product could solve. But more than that, I believed in the people behind this company. They had a bold vision but also knew how to get it done.
What’s the best thing working as Head of Sales?
Being a part of people’s growth journey. We hire a ton of smart people with various backgrounds, and the best part is to see them realize their potential and take on more responsibility.
Another thing is the variation. My role, like most roles at Funnel, changes every day. To give you an example: When I started I was the second salesperson in the company. Me and my colleague were going around the Stockholm area to do outbound sales and knock on doors. 4 years later we have built a worldwide brand and a lead generation engine that generates most of the leads that we need. Today the EU sales team consists of 15 people in 5 different functions. We are working with companies in all segments: from startups to multinational Enterprise companies.
So in the span of a few years, my role has changed multiple times. Every year we double in size and we run into new problems and figure out new solutions.
Tell me more about the sales structure and culture within the team!
A problem that we’ve seen with other sales organizations is that monetary incentives such as commissions and bonuses make salespeople less willing to cooperate with each other and sometimes with the rest of the organization. I’ve seen salespeople and managers fight over territories, who should get what lead and who should get credit for what sale. It creates tension in the team, and absolutely no value for the customer or the company. So we have decided to remove all commissions and bonuses companywide. We see that it enables us to perform at a level that I’ve never seen anywhere else. As a result, we sell more. And we can pay more.
We are building a fairly non-traditional sales organization, influenced by Agile and the developer community in general. We build small autonomous sales teams with clear goals.
I would summarize our culture in two words, transparency and empowerment. We try to be transparent in everything we do to make sure that people know what is going on and enable them to make their own decisions. If managers made all the calls we would be changing very slowly. We are looking for scalable growth and that comes from hiring smart people and giving them authority to make change happen.
You should work here if you are excited by the idea of pioneering a new way of doing sales, and figuring out how with the help of your teammates.
What’s it like to have you as a manager and what’s your leadership style?
Haha, that is really a question you should ask my team. But I am here to make my team succeed. To the greatest extent possible, they should own problems, find solutions and execute them. I’m here to facilitate, provide structure and coaching.
We practice servant leadership. In short, it means that my team are not here to please me. It’s my job to make sure that they can do theirs.
What are your 3 best tips to a person who wants to succeed in your sales team?
1. Think about what will make the biggest contribution to the customer, the company and your team rather than your own paycheck. That is what is going to lead to your success at Funnel and there are unlimited growth opportunities here if you do that right.
2. Don’t try to make it appear as if you are doing a good job. Instead, focus on figuring out how you can do your job better.
3. Be curious.
Thank you for the talk Erik! One final question, what do you do when you’re not working?
Most of my time today I spend with my two kids, but when I am not knee deep in diapers or trying to get a stain out of my shirt, I try to work out. I wish I had more time for triathlon, which is my recent passion. Ironman was the most recent competition, I’d love to do that again. And when we go on vacations, we focus on good food and sports. The dream is a day of surfing or cycling followed by tapas and a glass of wine.