Meet Ines Gallagher, BDM – Big Deal Maker!
Could you tell us a bit about yourself please?
Ok, so I am Reading born and bred and currently live about 10 minutes away from our offices – nice easy commute! I went to sixth form at a school called Blue Coat, in Sonning, before going to Swansea University to study English Literature.
In terms of hobbies I’ve done Amateur Dramatics for a few years and recently have got into fitness and weight lifting. I love all water sports, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m good at them! And I’ve worked at Clarify for about 2.5 years.
What do Clarify do?
Clarify, in my mind, as a professional services business development organisation, helps our customers to better-reach new audiences. Clarify helps our customers to expand, sell new and disruptive technologies, build a predictable and sustainable pipeline and helps them to develop and grow as a business by better understanding their customers and prospects challenges.
Since joining Clarify I’ve been working with the same customer, which suits me well, as I like to own something and develop it. What we’ve done for my customer specifically, is to help make their new products stand out in a rapidly saturating market – reaching new audiences with capabilities they are not historically associated with, and therefore are less well known for. That has involved a lot of strategic conversations, with strategic level contacts, in order to build their reputation and my customer’s pipeline in those new propositions, with new logos, in line with what my customer really wanted to achieve.
I recently described this process as “rather than taking food off your plate; Clarify are filling up your plate when you’re away from the table”.
What does your role entail?
As a BDM, my role is to build pipeline alongside my customer’s BD team by booking high level, high quality, fully qualified opportunities (Prospect Meetings), which will then convert into closed, won deals. What that means is that I speak with people within the desired prospect account to understand their challenges & pains, and speak to them about what it is they’re working towards. Once I have understood this, I then discuss with them how my customer’s solutions can help and arrange for a further discussion with my customer. This handover includes a discussion about what we already know and which of the customer’s solutions would be most pertinent to the prospect.
I work really closely with the customer team and we are always sharing ideas, discussing inroads and offering each other tips and hints from what we’re learning speaking to prospects every day. I really enjoy it!
What did you do before you joined Clarify?
After finishing University I worked for an independent retailer supporting their marketing, before joining a digital marketing agency where I worked for nearly 2 years; my role there was to act as an Account Manager which included some new business activity as well, and introduced me to selling. It was that experience of pitching and understanding a business’ needs and how we can solve them, which ultimately led me to Clarify.
Why did you decide to join Clarify?
Clarify wasn’t on my radar if I’m totally honest. I didn’t know that I wanted to go into sales or business development until I did. I first heard of Clarify when I met a member of the senior management team through a mutual friend at a fancy dress party, and he persuaded me to come in for an interview.
The talent team really helped me understand what the role was about and why it existed. For somebody who’s never worked in this industry and this kind of environment; it was completely new to me. I was so worried at the first interview that I wouldn’t understand what Clarify did, but the talent team ensured that I knew what I was getting into.
How did the reality of working at Clarify compare to your expectations?
I was concerned that it was going to be a very “salesy” organisation. A couple of my friends worked in sales & recruitment at the time and I was terrified it was going to be like the Wolf of Wall Street; people shouting across the room, being publicly shamed for not hitting target, all that jazz! I actually recall bringing that up in my interview and the interviewer’s face was a picture! Working at Clarify isn’t like that at all! It’s a really supportive environment and everyone is really happy to roll up their sleeves and help others – you’re not on your own.
What’s kept you at Clarify?
I want to give an answer that’s something different to ‘the people’, because everyone always says the people.
Honestly I think it’s partly the customers and partly the culture here. I worked in an environment previously where if there was a problem or something wasn’t working as well as it should, there were no discussions on how to improve, and ultimately just felt like a very small business mind-set. Whereas here because, obviously, we want to grow and we want to expand, there is an emphasis on “Let’s work through the problem” rather than bury our heads in the sand, and I like that. I like to run at a problem and in my experience, that’s a very Clarify-way of resolving things.
The other thing, like I said, is the customer. It’s not always going to be easy, and there are going to be issues, but it’s nice to be in an environment where you’re working with somebody instead of reporting into them. The way we set up our programs, because we’re a professional services business, is geared to working with the customer to solve their problems and to reach their goals rather than generating leads, and I think that makes a big difference to me.
How would you describe the culture at Clarify?
I would say it’s a very positive culture. I think that even when its crunch time, and even when it’s difficult, its energising being in this environment. If I were to use 3 words to describe it I’d say: energetic, engaging and entertaining!
What would you say your favourite things about Clarify are?
Obviously in every business there’s a sort of hierarchy, but I love that at Clarify I can go up to Claire (Clarify’s CEO) in the kitchen or pop my head round the door and just talk to her. I love that I can go up to David (Clarify’s Managing Director) ask him how his weekend was, and in the same breath get his wisdom on a work challenge. Everyone is treated as a colleague and a team member, not a subordinate.
Obviously the Christmas social is always a highlight! And I like that fact that although there are friendship groups, it’s not cliquey. If someone’s organised something and you want to go along-you’re always welcome.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’d like to stay with Clarify because I do really enjoy it. I think that I’ve challenged and tested myself in the customer environment, and what I’d like to do is take what I’ve learnt into a coaching environment, sharing some of the knowledge that we work so hard to accumulate. Part of that could be with new recruits, and part of that could be with our customers, so I’d like to explore it further.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to start a sales career?
When approaching a prospect assume you are going to like them. Assume that you are going to have a fantastic relationship and that everything is going to go really well. I’ve found that in sales you often have self-fulfilling prophecies, and if you approach a prospect with a positive frame of mind it’s likely that you’ll have a positive experience. When I pick up the phone and someone sounds like they’re having a nightmare of a day, I love that, because it’s an opportunity to turn their day around and put a smile on their face.
Ask LOADS of questions; of your customer, of your prospect, of your team, of your managers – it’s the best way to learn and it is the surest way to show you are engaged and care about what is going on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You (the interviewer) asked a “Why” question – it’s not a clean language question!