To Mark Weber, it’s all about building relationships.
As Senior Vice President of the Americas at NetApp, it’s the relationships he’s established both among himself and his staff, but between buyers and sellers, that have positioned Weber to be a leader as a sales professional. WashingtonExec spoke with Weber on how his leadership approach differs from others, providing the best customer service and advice for sales professionals.
WashingtonExec: What do you consider the major stepping stones in your career and the key decisions that have led to your current position?
Mark Weber: I believe that you have to put yourself in a position to succeed. It is much more than luck. Whether it was getting an engineering degree, studying for my master’s or putting myself out there for a promotion – it was about hard work and standing out. No one gets the win if they are sitting on the sideline.
An unapproachable executive does not add much value because you cannot understand your team and their needs if you are sitting in an ivory tower. I want to have real interactions, not crafted conversations.
WashingtonExec: How does your approach to sales and management differ from others and how did it lead to you becoming this year’s sole honoree of IES&BD’s LifeTime Achievement Award?
Mark Weber: Being accessible is extremely important. I want my entire team to feel comfortable sending me a note knowing that I will respond back. An unapproachable executive does not add much value because you cannot understand your team and their needs if you are sitting in an ivory tower. I want to have real interactions, not crafted conversations. Being a part of the team, rather than just a manager, helps me to be a better leader.
WashingtonExec: In your current role you are charged with leading sales, channels, engineering, professional services, business development, finance, operations and marketing across North America, South America and U.S. Public Sector. What expertise and savvy do you leverage on a daily basis to manage all of these responsibilities?
Mark Weber: I hire great people and let them do their jobs! Great things happen when you get out of the way of empowered people. I want to have people on my team who want to own the ball, all while having fun. Being a leader is a lot like playing chess – you have to put the right people in the right roles to succeed. I did not get to where I am by myself. Every sales win was a team effort. My success is my team’s success.
WashingtonExec: As a prominent thought-leader within the sales industry, what do you believe is the most important factor when providing customer service (at any level)?
Mark Weber: The customer isn’t just buying a product, they’re investing in the relationship. The sales representative needs to prove that the customer won’t be out there alone. In many cases, the customer needs assurance from the entire team that they’ll personally be available and responsible – from concept, to implementation and beyond.
WashingtonExec: What is the best advice (career or personal) that you’ve ever received that has led to your current success?
Mark Weber: To be a great salesperson, you have to be a good listener. People – your customers included – want to be heard. They want to know their concerns have been listened to and that their problems and needs matter. Really listening is the single most influential action you can take.
WashingtonExec: For those aspiring to reach your level, what tips can you offer that you believe every sales professional should know?
Mark Weber: Be direct and honest. If you are a straight shooter, then there should be no surprises and no drama. Neutrality does not add value and mute is not a strategy. It is critical to be truthful, comfortable and confident. And enjoy yourself!