Brian Alster Picture
Brian Alster
Global Head of Supply & Compliance Product

 

 

Q: You recently took on a new role. Share with us the scope of your current role, and former role.
A: In my current role as Global Head of Supply & Compliance Product, I lead the strategy, product development and sales efforts for the Compliance and Supply product lines. In my former role as RVP, Financial Institution Sales, I led a team of highly skilled sales executives and solution advisors, who specialize in sales to our largest Financial Services customers.

Q: Tell us about the backgrounds of those on your Sales team and what makes them successful.
A: A portion of my team is made up of individuals who have previously worked in the industry we are selling into, and therefore have had first-hand experience using our data as a customer. This experience provides them immediate credibility with customers, given they have walked a mile in their shoes. The other group of individuals on my team have been in sales at D&B, or a peer company in the industry, and understand the consumption of commercial data, how it’s used, and what it’s used for, specifically in the financial institutions space. They have experience selling into banks and understand how banks consume our data. As a result, some of our most successful folks are successful because they know the pain points, opportunities and strengths of our data versus our competitors’ data - and are transparent in the sales process which goes a long way to earn trust.

Q: What do you look for when interviewing candidates interested in joining your Sales team?
A. It really comes down to these three things: do you have experience in the industry; do you have the ability to communicate difficult things in very simple ways; and can you negotiate? So first: you either need to have worked at a bank, or you need to have worked at a company that interacted with a bank. Secondly, I look for strong communication skills; the ability to communicate very complex things in a concise, easy to understand manner. A lot of times I’ll assess that by asking candidates, “What’s the most challenging thing that you’ve had to deal with?” If they can do an efficient job of making me understand, they’ve got excellent communication skills. Lastly, I would say, “What have you owned?” If you have owned something, you’ve had to have negotiated. And, if you can negotiate, you’ll be perfect.

Q: What makes Sales at D&B different and unique?
A: We hire a different caliber of person, which enables us to charge a higher price and get a better margin for our services and data, versus our peers in the industry who have continually beaten us on price. If we go head-to-head on the quality of the data, the quality of the integration and implementation, we know we’re going to win because our consultative services – what we offer beyond just the data - are what we pride ourselves on. We’re able to throw the roadmap over the wall as well, not just the data. I think our competitors are really good at throwing the data over the wall, maybe at a lower price. For us, I think we justify why our value is worth the extra cost.

Q: When you look ahead to this year, what do you need most for your team to succeed?
A. We need more education on our team. It’s not just product education, but also sales negotiation skills. To use a football analogy: it’s very easy to move the ball from my own goal line to the customer’s goal line. But getting it that last yard is extremely difficult. That’s when the pushback comes and when the adjustment comes. We need to make sure our folks can get that ball over the last, hardest yard. That’s a critical one.

 

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