Setting up a base for Freshdesk in Europe

Simon tells us how Freshdesk expanded its Sales team across continents.

Simon Johnson, Director of Sales, EMEA at Freshdesk

Say hello to Simon Johnson.

Simon is the Director of Sales, EMEA at Freshdesk. Since he joined six months ago, he has spearheaded all of our operations in the EMEA region, including setting up our regional office in the UK. He’s based out of London and is currently building a high-impact team that will complement our other global teams to grow sales in the region.

In this interview, Simon talks about how he became our first employee in the UK, and his experience working remotely with a global team at Freshdesk.

Tell us about how you ended up working with Freshdesk.

​I was actually very happy at my previous role (I was Head of Sales at Redgate​ Software​ for ​10​ years), but when this opportunity presented itself, it was a no brainer. I had to go for it with both hands. As the first employee based out of the UK and EMEA, I actually had several​ remote video interviews with the senior management team, before meeting one of the principal investors in a face-to-face interview at the Accel Partners office in London. In fact, the first time I met with the team was when I visited the Global Development Office in Chennai, and I was already an employee by then!

So, how did you get up to speed despite working remotely?

​One of the first things that I did was to ask for​ a​n experienced​ Sales Engineer from India to join me in the UK. This allowed me to continue learning about the company culture and processes, whilst instantly adding a really experienced technical ​member to the UK team. ​T​his has worked out really well.

We now work together​ from a small private office in London. We recently hired two new Account Managers with ​very relevant experience ​of ​dealing in the UK market. I am creating an environment where the team will be empowered to make their own decisions as we build our operations and success across EMEA.

Can you tell us how your experience at Freshdesk has been so far? Have you established any processes or routine for the work that you do?

​The first few months at Freshdesk have been about 3 things:

1. Learning how to sell in this market space​: I have been actively selling as much as I can to keep up the existing momentum that the team has created, and to learn. This has been through a combination of working with existing customers, helping the team in India by taking some inbound leads that need extra focus, and generating new leads from conferences and so on.

2. Building the Freshdesk UK Ltd operation: I have spent a great deal of time getting the UK Subsidiary up and running, getting the new company ready to start hiring staff, and making sure that we have all the legal requirements in place.

3. Planning for growth: Based upon my findings from #1 above, and my existing experience in the UK, planning to make the biggest impact in this region is my major focus.

What is the most awesome thing that you’ve done so far here?

​By starting Freshdesk UK Ltd, we have created a truly global brand. This has really opened up our reach to the EMEA region, and it has allowed us to hire staff that understand the lay of the land. I am also proud that I have been joined by a Sales Engineer from the Indian team, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for a whole lot of global collaboration.

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face in your journey so far?

​There have been many challenges so far around setting up the operations in the UK. However the most interesting business challenge has been working together, as a global team, across 3 continents.

What’s your favourite part about working at Freshdesk?

The freedom and the challenge of it all​, I’d say. ​I really enjoy the freedom I have to plan and make decisions ​for the UK. I also enjoy learning about new cultures and working as part of a growing global commercial team.

What qualities does a person need to possess to be a good Director of Sales?

You will need a great deal of energy to be successful in my role. No two days are ever the same. My time is split between a bundle of things — I go on-site and give demos to prospective customers,​ I collaborate with the US and Indian Sales teams via video calls from the office​, and I deal with all the operations and planning for the region​. There are also a lot of industry events and conferences which I attend. There’s always a bit of travel involved, and I ​try to take care of all the administrative tasks when I’m on the move.

The ability to adapt is vital. I do different things throughout the day, and I need to make sure that all my decisions are based on rational thinking. Some of this may well be emergent and opportunistic, however the aim here is to understand what is and what isn’t working, so that we can scale the success and operation.​

What would you say to someone who wants to join the Sales Team at Freshdesk?

​As a new team forming in the UK, my team has the opportunity to shape the future of the region, and this is a huge incentive. We have the opportunity to sell in to a whole new market for a company that is seeing unprecedented growth across the globe. This is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity.

Freshdesk is looking to hire more members to our Sales team based out of the UK office. If you think you have a flair for talking to customers on a regular basis and enjoy closing deals, please get in touch with us at getalife@freshdesk.com. For what it’s worth, you could be exactly what we are looking for.

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