An interview with Phillip Kousz, Head of Sales Switzerland at Beekeeper

An interview with Phillip Kousz, Head of Sales Switzerland at Beekeeper

This is an edited transcript of an interview with Phillip Kousz, Head of Sales Switzerland at Beekeeper

Firstly, could you introduce yourself and tell us where you work?

I'm Phil. I head up the new business sales team at Beekeeper in Switzerland. I’ve been here for almost two years leading a team of five account executives. We also have a team of four BDRs to support top of the funnel activity. We’re responsible for demand generation, qualifying and closing the pipeline and handing over to customer success for onboarding.


How did you get into sales?

I studied at the University of Zurich and did an MBA.  I was set to follow most of my peers and join one of the big consultancies, but I got a call that took me on a different route. As part of my course, I did an entrepreneurship seminar where we wrote a business plan for a company. That company actually went to market and the founder who had heard my business plan presentation called me, said they were looking to hire a salesperson and asked if I was interested. My immediate reaction was “Sales? Come on, I don't want to go in sales!”  After some discussion I thought it might be a good way to learn a lot about business and the company was fun so decided to give it a try and joined as a junior BDR. I never thought I’d be in a sales role prior to this but here I am!


What was that first experience like?

I did cold calling at a time where we had no brand, no one knew the company and we had no logos or references. But despite that I started to like it. I liked the chase. I enjoyed being the new kid on the block going up against established companies.

We didn’t have product teams, engineers or marketing and I didn’t have any budget. All I had was my own sales skills. It was a beautiful thing to learn that sales is always in the end a one to one, human to human thing. And if you approach sales with a hunger to learn techniques, strategies and skills that work,you can make a difference, a difference that is even greater when you’re in an innovative company. Seeing that impact hooked me onto sales.


How did you progress from there?

I went from the junior BDR with no experience and moved through the ranks to being the Start-up CSO. I’ve reflected why my passion for sales has stuck and can pinpoint a few factors in addition to being able to help clients really move the needle for their business. Starting from my very early days when my pocket money was linked to grades at school, I’ve liked and appreciated the link between performance and pay.  

I also like that a career in sales means you’re in charge of your own destiny, are in the driving seat and can deliver direct impact. The numbers and results are what counts, so as long as you’re delivering revenue for the business, no one is asking what time you’re starting work or how long you’re taking for lunch.

Looking back, what advice would you give your younger sales self?

Only focus on those things that you can control- your mindset, your actions, and your reactions. That's it. Not more, not less.

When you’re going into a sales meeting, check whether your mindset is “They need me and the solutions we offer. They don't know it yet, but they need me” or if it is “I'm unsure if they like me or the product” A powerful difference.

Same when it comes to actions. Don't only fully rely on what marketing are doing or what the product team are doing. Focus on what you are doing yourself to push those deals further or to generate that pipeline.

And again, with reactions. Think and plan about how you react throughout the whole buying cycle from discovery calls and objections to negotiations and contract signing. Have a plan in your arsenal for each situation.

What are the biggest mistakes that you see people in their sales careers make?

High sales performers have very open mindsets to learning, reflecting on their actions, and challenging themselves to be better every day. This drive to improve sees high performers seeking out other high performers to learn what is working for them.  They also have a very firm grip on their resources and their time, quickly figuring out what is going to work and focusing only on those opportunities.  Not actively seeking out opportunities to learn and not qualifying hard and fast are often what splits the good from the great.


Why do you think less experienced salespeople struggle to qualify to the extent needed?

Being able to say no takes so much courage. Telling the prospect there is not a match can be hard. But sometimes, beautiful things happen when you tell the prospect no. It’s in our DNA to want things we can't have so often new opportunities open up. Plus, it puts you in the position of being the expert that they want to spend time with rather than the guy that wants to close them.

What are the biggest myths about working in sales and salespeople?

That the most successful salespeople are egotistical, cold hearted, loud,and macho extroverts. It’s a myth we must debunk as it’s the opposite of what we need in the sales profession and repels potentially great salespeople from considering it as a career.

The highest sales performers I know are the opposite, often the extreme opposite, of this personality type. They’re more introverted with a high emotional IQ. They are empathic and can really put themselves in the customers' shoes.  They’re great listeners and listen more than they talk meaning they’re able to gather a massive amount of intelligence about the company. This knowledge allows them to deliver an amazing solution to the client that brings value to everyone.