I like the self-publishing option LinkedIn provides. Not only are there a wealth of interesting articles from other CEOs and thought leaders on the network but it also gives you a platform to voice your opinion. About 2–3 years back people were looking at ways AI technology could be incorporated into sales. There was a lot of buzz around its use in analyzing big data and the potential insights it could show sales managers, yet nobody was talking about its potential use in UX. So, I put together a few general thoughts and published them on LinkedIn. Because it wasn’t something that was being discussed about too much it soon took off and generated a lot of interest in our brand.
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oscar Macia, CEO and co-founder of ForceManager, the Barcelona-based personal sales assistant application. Macia earned a degree in nuclear engineering, worked in a fusion energy lab before starting a new career path in the sales field. After 20 years of experience in sales management he founded ForceManager with the mission to transform the way field sales teams sell on the road. Not the typically trodden path of nuclear engineers…
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
The idea behind ForceManager dawned on me when I was heading up the field sales team of a multinational here in Barcelona. My field reps were complaining about the traditional CRM system we had in place — it was difficult to use out on the road, they couldn’t access data offline, had to come back to the head office to update in on a Friday afternoon, etc.
Because of this, it wasn’t being used with any consistency and meant I had very little “useful” data with which to work with as a sales manager.
In 2011, consumer apps were becoming more common to solve everyday productivity issues and I thought to myself, well surely the same concept could be applied to business, right?
Ever since then my goal has been to deliver a mobile-first solution for field sales reps that not only makes the reporting process less cumbersome but turns the smartphone into a personal sales assistant for reps out on the road.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Although it is not really a single story, for me, the most exciting thing to happen during this journey so far was the transformation of ForceManager from a 70-employee company at the beginning of 2018 to 150 people by the end of the year.
That scaling process has been a real rollercoaster ride: we acquired a company, created and developed a brand-new people-focused HR policy, changed the way we measure our results, new sales processes and targeted verticals…its been an incredible learning curve and probably one of the toughest challenges I’ve faced during my career so far.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh yes, I know just the one! — a meeting with one of my very first clients, called Javier.
Overall it went extremely well; we had a productive conversation; the proposal was well received and it looked like they had a genuine need for our product. It’s fair to say I left in very high spirits.
However, on our way back to the office my boss told me, “you do realize his name is Jorge, not Javier, right?”.
He wasn’t angry with me per se, but I was mortified; I had been calling this potential client by the wrong name this entire time.
I immediately called him to apologize but to my surprise, he kindly replied, “Don’t worry. You looked so excited up there I didn’t want to spoil your presentation. You understood our needs and came up with a great solution, congratulations!”
I learned two things that day. The first one, to always prepare for any visit or meeting you have, double checking the names of those attending especially if it’s for the first time. Something else I learned was that a true leader sees beyond a single mistake and understands the overall performance of the person. One single error does not define an employee. That’s exactly what we try to apply in ForceManager: business is key, but people always come first.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
LinkedIn is without a doubt the most effective social media tool I’ve used to date.
It’s extremely useful in establishing relationships and keeping on top of what is happening in your sector. I call it the “main square” or “plaza” where everybody goes to develop relationships, share their experiences and learn from each other.
For instance, at the end of last year we acquired the Italian CRM company Sellf, which helped position us as one of the leading field sales execution platforms in Europe. The first contact I had with them was through LinkedIn in the form of an “invitation to connect” I sent to Diego, their CEO. So, one of ForceManager’s biggest steps forward started just with a single message on social media.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ha! I may be a CEO but I don’t know if I I’d go so far as to say I exude a great amount of influence. I think we all have the power to positively affect change in our immediate surroundings, no matter what our position.
What I mean by that is that everyone has the power to create a positive “movement”. It could be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a colleague as you pass them in the corridor at work or taking a second to sit down with a member of your team and congratulating them on a great piece of work they’ve done, or just letting them know you appreciated them staying an extra hour last night to help on a last minute project.
A great time to do this I find is during lunch break. I try to speak to as many people as possible, find out a little bit about who they are, their background or if they have any questions for me about the company. People need to know that they have a voice within the company, and it doesn’t take much on my part to ensure that happens.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Wow this is a tough one. There are many people I would like to have lunch with in this world — from Warren Buffet, Lady Gaga to the late Stephen Hawking. However, if I had to choose someone, I would say Bill McDermott the CEO at SAP.
I would love to chat with him about his experience leading SAP to one of the leaders in the enterprise software industry and learn about his vision for the future.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
1. One of the biggest ways you can leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business is through its paid advertising services.
I find the level of segmentation more granular than Google, allowing you to target specific industries, job role, country, language, company size etc. This allows you to direct your advertising budget solely at the people with a possible interest in your product/service which is both more efficient and cost effective.
We recently organized an event at our head office in Barcelona and used LinkedIn as one of the primary tools to filter through key influencers and prospects who’d be interested in attending. Thanks to our magnificent marketing team for organizing such an event, we are in the advanced stages of a partnership negotiation with one of the attendees.
2. LinkedIn Navigator is another tool I highly recommend looking to, something that our market research and outbound sales teams have had a lot of success with.
Again, it comes down the granularity with which you can filter through potential prospects. For example, say you just wanted to target senior executives from the medical device industry. Navigator allows you to filter prospects by position, industry and company size, leaving you with a list of potential suitors.
I find this a lot more personalized than simply picking up the phone and dialing a paid-for list of “leads”. Your team can connect via social media, discover if there is a mutual interest and then take it from there.
3. I like the self-publishing option LinkedIn provides. Not only are there a wealth of interesting articles from other CEOs and thought leaders on the network but it also gives you a platform to voice your opinion.
About 2–3 years back people were looking at ways AI technology could be incorporated into sales. There was a lot of buzz around its use in analyzing big data and the potential insights it could show sales managers, yet nobody was talking about its potential use in UX. So, I put together a few general thoughts and published them on LinkedIn. Because it wasn’t something that was being discussed about too much it soon took off and generated a lot of interest in our brand.
4. LinkedIn is obviously renowned for its primary use as a hiring platform. Recently they released LinkedIn Life which allows companies to showcase the more personal side of their brand.
It gives potential hires a behind the scenes peak of the team, management, some of the perks of working at the company, testimonials from past employees, photos from recent events you may have put together etc. Company culture is becoming an increasingly important factor for new hires, particularly millennials, and LinkedIn Life is the perfect place to showcase that.
5. Another tool I really like is LinkedIn ProFinder. This freelance hiring extension is particularly useful for when starting a business; when you don’t have the resources to hire a full-time marketing or sales team, for example, and are completely focused on perfecting your product. We’ve also had a lot of success with ProFinder when looking for additional help with some smaller, specific projects.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.