Get to Know: Ben Potter, Manager, Corporate Business Development
Tell us about your role. What are you working on day-to-day?
I currently manage a team of ten corporate business development reps. Our team’s main purpose is to generate sales opportunities. We handle prospecting and qualifying, then we hand off qualified opportunities to account executives. My role requires me to stay ahead of organizational changes, including modifications in territory assignments or quotas. I’m also doing a lot of coaching and coming up with strategies to motivate my team members to hit and exceed their targets.
I started as a business development representative in the state and local government space. After about eight months, I went away for military training. When I came back, I was moved up to strategic business development, something I told my manager I was interested in before I left. That position supported the strategic account executives who handle large enterprise companies, like Facebook, Apple, and Yahoo! I was in that role for a quarter before moving into management in January, 2016.
As a business development rep, I was only responsible for my number. Now I’m responsible for ten individuals, who all have their own numbers. Those roll up into the team number, which is my number. I’ve gained invaluable experience in this role, and I’ve learned a lot from my current boss, Randy. The reps I work with also teach me something new about myself and the company every day.
Why did you decide to join Everbridge?
I really love what the company stands for. It’s all about keeping people safe. There are a lot of tech companies with cool incentives, but Everbridge’s mission, plus the great people here who share those values, drew me in.
“I really love what Everbridge stands for. It’s all about keeping people safe.”
We get to see Everbridge in the news alerting thousands of people to evacuate during a tornado. Our technology has also helped rescue a child who wandered from home and an elderly person who got lost in the middle of the snow storm. These are the kinds of things that resonate with me. Whether you’re in support, or sales, or HR — you can see how you’re helping people.
What experience did you bring with you to Everbridge?
I studied politics and law at Bryant University, where I was also in ROTC. After graduation, I served in the National Guard. When I returned, I knew I wanted to work with technology, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like.
If someone asked me in college if I’d go into sales, I’d probably have said, “No way.” Like most people, I had a preconceived notion of salespeople as the annoying car salesman or the telemarketer trying to sell you a half-priced cruise to the Bahamas. But it turns out, my experience in leadership made me a good fit for sales.
“It turns out, my experience in leadership made me a good fit for sales.”
I didn’t know anything about sales when I joined Everbridge — I didn’t even know what “KPI” stood for. But I knew I was a disciplined, hard worker, which helped me pick things up quickly. For instance, I’m not particularly strong in math, but I learned how to calculate the flight trajectory of a 600-pound explosive round. What matters is having the grit to persevere when the going gets tough. It’s understanding that the job may not be done at 5 o’clock and you have to push a little harder to meet your objective. That’s what the military taught me.
Are there other things you learned in military services that have helped you in your career?
I got a lot of hands-on leadership and management experience in the military, which I’m grateful for. I am currently a First Lieutenant in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. I lead a platoon of 40 soldiers, most of whom have been in the military longer than I have. That experience has taught me a lot about how can I contribute to a team and help other people succeed.
The military is an organization of comradery and brotherhood, and that comes with a lot of accountability. Similarly, at work it’s important to understand your role in the bigger picture and how your success is measured — then you have to hold yourself accountable to that.
What have you learned at Everbridge?
A lot. One thing, which was impressed upon me by my manager, is to think of my team like a business. Businesses are successful when their people are well compensated and taken care of, when they have clear objectives and the tools to achieve those objectives.
“Managers are successful when they take the time to help their direct reports do their jobs well.”
Managers are successful when they take the time to help their direct reports do their jobs well. That may involve something complex, like analyzing a rep’s funnel so they can see how many calls they need to make to hit their numbers. Or it could be something as simple as noticing a team member rubbing their eyes in frustration and saying, “Hey, what’s going on? Let’s take a second and unpack that last call.” There are really great leaders here, and I’ve learned a lot from them.
What challenges have you faced in your work and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge when I joined Everbridge was understanding the full range of products and being able to speak confidently about them. I know what mass notification is, but how does it work? How does it integrate with X, Y, and Z systems?
Everbridge products are complex — you’re not going to understand everything right away. I tackled it through a lot of self-study. I learn new concepts by reading and watching how things work. It was also helpful to ask for advice from people who had been successful in my role.
“I had to get creative about how I conveyed information.”
A challenge I faced as a manager was understanding that everybody learns differently. Just because I understand something one way doesn’t mean that’s the best way to teach it to someone else. I had to get creative about how I conveyed information to people who are visual learners or hands-on learners. Now, I try to peel back the layers of everyone’s individual needs so I can help them be effective.
What’s next for you?
Soon I’ll be moving into Technical Implementations, where I’ll work with the people who help customers get set up on our platform. Our first step will be to understand the customer’s needs, objectives, and organizational scope. Then we help them implement the product.
A year or so down the line, I’d love to move into Solutions Consulting. Consultants understand exactly how Everbridge can integrate with the client’s organizational day-to-day or in certain use cases. They meet with customers on site and troubleshoot issues as they arise. I enjoy tackling problems and helping people, so I’m looking forward to that.