Bill Nahmias visited Elon as part of the Chandler Family Professional Sales Center Speaker Series.
By Erin Manchuso '19
Bill Nahmias of Gartner, a leading research and advisory company with more than 15,000 associates globally, shared insights about the evolving sales field during a March 13 presentation as part of the Chandler Family Professional Sales Center Speaker Series.
Prior to joining Gartner in 2015, Nahmias held sales, marketing and strategy leadership roles at BBC Worldwide and MillerCoors and worked as a strategy and operations consultant at Deloitte Consulting. In his current position as managing vice president of sales productivity programs, he is responsible for sales analytics, building and executing programs to accelerate new business growth, and operating a portfolio of services including lead qualification and prospect research for Gartner’s 5,000 person global sales team.
Emphasizing the importance of seizing opportunities that your experiences bring, Nahmias opened the presentation with a quote by the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you can go anywhere.” Students often want big marketing roles right out of school and can overlook competitive and transformative positions in sales, Nahmias said. He advised students who love a challenge and want a position with freedom and flexibility to consider a career in sales.
The world of sales is changing, Nahmias explained. With the rise in business analytics, industry and customers demands have shifted to remain competitive. Whereas in years past “relationship builders,” salesmen who thrived when it came to managing personal relationships with clients, were among the top sales performers, internal data is suggesting that “challengers,” salesmen who challenge their clients to think differently about their business with the help of analytics, are now overwhelmingly leading the ranks.
He continued to discuss the value of analytics within the sales industry to drive productivity and effectiveness, in roles both big and small. “Industry leaders are using analytics to identify customer prospects, improvements to the sales force design and territory design, and efficiently recruit and train sales representatives,” said Nahmias.
Sales representative are using analytics on smaller scales to identify where the opportunity is, who to target, what do the targets care about, and even the success of different approaches in order to get meetings with potential clients, he explained. Nahmias prompted prospective sales professionals to dig deeper to better understand analytics in order to identify promising opportunities clients can act on.
Nahmias also mentioned the importance of hard skills to make analytics work in professionals’ best interests. “Being familiar with Excel will take you a long way,” shared Nahmias. Large-scale data sets can be easily manipulated on platforms like Excel to come to valuable business conclusions.
Additionally, Nahmias highlighted the importance of critical thinking skills when analyzing data. Professionals can have a lot of excellent information but if they cannot interpret and act upon that information, then none of it matters. “Data is not going to tell you the whole story, it will just point you in the right direction,” he said.
Looking towards the future Nahmias expects big data and artificial intelligence will be especially important within the sales industry when it comes to analyzing characteristics of current clients to prospect for viable new clients and visualize data conclusions.
In closing, Nahmias’ advice to prospective sales professionals included:
- Invest in yourself.
- Understand what drives your success and apply it to other areas.
- Be disciplined.
- Leverage the resources around you.
The Chandler Family Professional Sales Center was endowed in 2008 by Thomas E. Chandler, owner of Chandler Concrete Company, and his family. The Chandler Family Center’s goals are to provide experiences that are relevant, practical and engaging, offer firms the latest sales knowledge and skills, connect students with local and national employers and conduct research that advances the field of sales.