Meet Luke Curry, an Irish/Canadian working as a Sales Team Lead for the Nordic Direct Sales Team in HubSpot Dublin. Luke started in HubSpot in the summer of 2017 and works to bring HubSpot products and services to all five Nordic countries to help organisations grow better while leading a mixed team of Nordic-speaking and English-speaking sales reps.
We asked Luke a few questions about what it's like working on the Nordic Sales team at HubSpot and his journey from investment banking to sales. Here's what he had to say!
Tell us a little bit about your background and journey to HubSpot.
After finishing university, I followed the traditional business graduate path into Investment Banking, having been recruited during my final year. I worked for about 2 years in one of Dublin’s largest IB’s, but found the industry uninspiring and outdated. I wanted to make an impact at work but found the culture of financial services stifling and stuffy. (I also wasn’t a big fan of wearing a tie!)
I decided to make the move to the tech industry, I had always done well in sales in previous jobs and thought this would be the best fit for me. Although Dublin is a great city to enter the tech industry, I wanted to gain some international experience and enjoy an adventure with my partner. I had heard of Vancouver’s tech startup scene so I thought moving there would be the best way to achieve both goals. After arriving in Vancouver I accepted a job as a Business Development Rep at Payfirma (SaaS for payments). I worked my way up to Account Executive and had great success during my 2 year stint there and developed as a sales rep working with veteran sales people and truly impactful mentors.
After the 2 years, it was time to come home to Dublin and during a trip to Vietnam on my way home I met a HubSpotter on a beach who told me all about HubSpot and I applied for the UK/I team from Vietnam. During the interview for the UK/I Account Executive role I met my now manager Kieran O’Flynn. We really connected during the interview process and were clearly on the same page when it came to our sales philosophy, the only problem was that he was the manager for the Nordic direct team. The day after my final interview I received a call from Kieran offering a spot on his Nordic team. “You know I don’t speak Danish right?” was my reply. Once Kieran explained that Irish (English speakers) have been successful in the region and that the territory was all five countries, I was sold. I accepted Kieran’s offer and got to work.
Can you walk us through what a typical day looks like for you?
My day is really split in to three activities - prospecting, selling and closing.
Ask any sales person, and they’ll tell you prospecting isn't the most fun part of the job, but it is necessary and luckily, HubSpot makes this easy for reps. We have a huge marketing machine in the Nordics and have the contact details for a large amount of good-fit companies in our CRM, far more than you could ever actively work. I typically prospect first thing in the morning, having planned which accounts to go after the evening before.
The selling part of the day is from about 10am to 2pm where I engage prospects in discovery meetings and software demos.
Towards the end of the day I’ll have closing meetings with prospects, or meetings with local partners who are working deals in collaboration with me.
What has been most surprising about being an Irish/Canadian person working for the Nordic market?
The high level of English in the region was a shock to me. I had never been to any Nordic country on my travels and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that they had no problem doing business exclusively in English.
What are some skills you think are important to be successful in your role in the Nordic market?
I have developed a nuanced approach to sales in the region. Although, from the outside, you may be forgiven for thinking that the region is culturally homogeneous. Media reports treat the five countries as a block when they report on their social ideology, politics and way of life in the “Nordics.” While there are similarities between the countries when it comes to values, each nation conducts business in different ways and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will be unsuccessful. Some countries do business with a top down approach to decision making, while others will have CEOs who will consult with interns on software deals. If you are to be successful in the Nordics you must take these differences into account and adjust your strategy accordingly.
What skills are critical for your success?
You must have a curious mind and be enthusiastic about learning how business is done in the different countries. You need to have patience if you are coming from an English speaking market where decisions are made in pragmatic ways and where there is a clear decision maker. You will have to learn to plan long term, beyond monthly targets. For a lot of SMEs in the Nordics, their decision horizons stretch out over 6 months, by rushing them you will loose deals and or give away discounts that would be otherwise unnecessary, had you been patient.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for a role that works with a different market or region?
Selling in the Nordics gives you great experience working across nations and cultures. It also insulates you from the boom/bust cycle that exists in certain English speaking regions. Historically speaking, the Nordic countries have had a very stable economy and even escaped the worst of the last global recession.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Working with all the different nationalities allows me to develop agility as a sales rep. I also like travelling to the region for events and onsite meetings where I get to explore these great countries.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
In HubSpot we work off monthly targets, at times this does not suit the market. This is a challenge but it has made me really work on my pipeline management and forecasting skills.
What’s your favorite thing about working at HubSpot?
I love working with an incredible group of sales professionals in a positive atmosphere. I’ve never worked in such a cohesive group. In sales teams people are under pressure, there will always be disputes and disagreements. But in our team these issues are solved in a collaborative manner and I can’t remember a time where reps couldn't work an issue out without managerial involvement.
If you weren’t in sales, what would you be doing?
I’d be on the west coast of Ireland surfing. A friend of mine working in tech in Dublin gave it all up to start a surf school out west! I have to say, that would be the move if I wasn’t in sales but for now I have work to do building HubSpot’s presence in the Nordics!