‘Culture is key to a high-performance sales organisation’

9 May 2017

Sean Doherty, Three Ireland. Image: Three

Sean Doherty is the head of enterprise, public sector and IoT at Three Ireland.

With a background in sales and management, Sean Doherty has almost 20 years of experience, working with some of the leading telecoms operators such as Verizon and BT.

He studied at Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University (DCU) before completing his master’s degree in business at University College Dublin.

Doherty joined O2 Ireland in 2010, which was later acquired by Three Ireland, where he now works as team leader in his current role.

Describe your role and what you do.

Three has a large number of enterprise, public sector and IoT customers, and my priority is to understand their digital and mobile communications needs and provide them with innovative and efficient solutions.

I spend a lot of time with my sales and product teams to ensure we are doing our utmost to add value to our customers’ organisations and that our solutions help them to exceed their business objectives.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

My day starts in the gym at 6am and I am in the office around 8am. I try to leave work by 6.30pm at the latest, having prepared for whatever the next day has in store.

I believe it’s important to catch up with my management team early in the week to see what’s coming up, catch up on trading, and set priorities and expectations for the week ahead. This helps me to manage my own diary and identify where my time is best spent.

During the week, I support the team through customer visits, one-to-ones, account planning, interviews, strategy sessions and finance reviews, along with anything else they may need my help with.

Towards the end of the week, I like to catch up with my own management team individually to ensure that everyone is leaving the office on a Friday somewhat stress-free!

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Obviously driving differentiation and keeping up with technological innovations is the day-to-day challenge in an area as competitive as ours. Keeping abreast of our customer challenges and what’s new in the tech space helps, but we also need to be constantly coaching our teams on sales methodologies and win plans.

I need to ensure that my sales teams have access to the right resources and are continually upskilled. Ensuring we stand out and bring something different to the customer is key to winning.

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

The move to the cloud is something we have been capitalising on for some time. Our enterprise-class-hosted unified communications platform has been a phenomenal success since it launched in 2013. This solution, when combined with Three’s managed network service, incorporates a managed firewall and application traffic manager that takes the strain away from our customers and allows them to get on with delivering innovation to the business, while we keep managing operations.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliancy requirements are looming and have our customers’ attention. Our partnership with Citrix gives us a unique capability to deliver software solutions that can help an organisation achieve compliance quickly and easily.

Three’s IoT business has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the last few years and we have just signed a deal with Cisco Jasper for a new IoT platform. This will ensure we can continue to keep pace with our IoT sales and start to increase the value of the services we can supply to our customers.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

When I finished my degree, I did a postgrad in IT at DCU and caught the IT bug. I wasn’t a natural programmer but when I combined the IT insights with some basic sales skills picked up from some brilliant sales managers, it just seemed to make sense for me.

I am always inquisitive about technology solutions in business. I always need to understand how something works even if it’s only at a high level. This basic level of technical knowledge helps gain credibility and trust with customers.

The IT business (telecoms in particular) can be messy. In my formative years as an account manager, I was organised and diligent. I was able to take that workload away from my customers and gain their trust. New business opportunities started to open up and this helped me to be quite successful as an individual contributor.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Culture is key to a high-performance sales organisation and I am lucky to have a great management team. They are always willing to learn, roll their sleeves up, appreciate feedback and no ask is ever too much for them. This top-down culture of enthusiasm and open and honest feedback is infectious, and has helped to create a great sales environment with the right mix of collaboration and internal competition.

I try to keep the management team focused on their people and the task, and take as much of the admin and governance burden off them as I can, enabling them to maximise their time coaching and developing, which ultimately leads to sales success and thus a happy working environment for all!

Who is your business hero and why?

My dad – he was a smart worker and had a great attitude. His customers only ever spoke of him in the highest regard and, most importantly, he is happy, having retired 15 years ago at 55.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I enjoy the usual business books – Blue Ocean Strategy, Persuasive Business Proposals and The Challenger Sale are some of my favourites so far this year.

Anything by Timothy Ferriss is a hit for me – I’m currently reading Tools of Titans, which is brilliant.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Finding the balance across the three key elements of management (task, team, individual) helps keep me focused and rationalise the multiple decisions I need to make on a daily basis.

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Updated, 3.58pm, 9 May 2017: This article was amended to clarify that O2 Ireland was acquired by Three Ireland.