The Expert Pipeline Builders
Get to know Konsyg's COO
An exclusive interview with KONSYG’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), Mr. Joseph (Joe) Flaten: His lengthy discussion initiates a range of topics that eventually leads to the focus of Konsyg’s achievements in the sales and services industry. Konsyg is now set to become one of the key players in the new business environment following the coronavirus pandemic.
Would please introduce yourself, tell us what you do and your background prior to Konsyg?
My name’s Joseph Flaten, and I’m the COO of Konsyg. I’m originally from the United States, born in Texas. I’ve been in sales for as long as I can remember and come from a family of salespeople. After graduating from UT Austin, I worked in New York City luxury real estate, mainly in Manhattan. For five years, I honed my negotiation and sales skills, working with New York City property owners and landlords, which was great. I moved to S.E. Asia about 9-10 years ago, where I worked in a variety of industries ranging from travel media production, media sales (sales and marketing), I owned my own corporate training company and worked with PTT, the national energy company of Thailand (I was their in-house corporate training and international communications coach). So, I had a rather diverse background before joining Konsyg, but there was one common theme concerning all my experiences, which was sales and marketing.
When I met Will (William Gilchrist), it was a great fit because I understood what he was doing with “sales as a service.” I began my sales career at the age of 15, having my first sales training, asking for referrals from my network, and providing demos on product, which was something that is still applicable to this day. If you count that in addition to my working throughout high school and college, I have been in sales for almost 25 years. So, I’ve been working in sales for most of my life.
How long have you been working for Konsyg and what do you like about it?
I have been working with Konsyg for 3.5 years. When I first heard about Konsyg, William Gilchrist (Konsyg’s founder) called me up and told me about the company that he was launching. I don’t believe we had any clients yet, but there already was a website with the logo and YouTube channel. William had been working really hard on the branding, trying to get the business set up, and figure out the inner mechanisms. He flew me to Singapore and told me about the company’s business model, which made a lot of sense to me. We sat and wrote out the mission statement that weekend. The business model he envisioned was great, innovative, and served as a real need for in the market, which I saw working well as soon as he described it.
Within a month of meeting him in Singapore, we had our first client, and from there, Konsyg then grew rapidly. The company got off the ground quite quickly without external funding and loans: We bootstrapped from day one, and we were able to grow it into 8 offices globally from there.
What I like about Konsyg is that it’s a place where I learn something every day, sometimes every hour. Working at Konsyg, and being able to lead the teams here, it’s just something that you’re always kind of inspired by, either the market, clients or team. It’s a constant source of inspiration and very challenging. When you’re learning a lot about people, systems, and technology all within one day, it can be challenging to process all that information. However, that’s what I like about it, because it always stretches your imagination for what the possibilities are and keeps you very motivated to deliver not only for your team and your clients, but to the bigger picture as well.
Sales outsourcing has become a real phenomenon in the corporate world. How did Konsyg take ‘sales as a service’ to the next step in the business realm?
When we first started out, we were the only people who offered sales as a service. We’ve seen others that claim to do so, but once you look closer at their business models, they generally tend to be “lead generators” or simple “appointment setters”. We provide end-to-end sales as a service, requiring a lot of expertise in order to execute those promises, which our company has. The idea comes from the need in the market, so it’s a very simple fulfillment of a need. When you first hear about it, it seems like something that is very innovative and new to the market but is also something that makes sense.
What do you find particularly challenging in your position as COO?
Keeping up with the pace of technological development can be daunting. Innovation is happening quickly, so you have to constantly be learning about new developments in many different areas. Since we cover many areas of tech, it’s really important for us to be cutting an edge, whether it’s in cyber security, RPA (robotic process automation), fintech, insurtech payment platforms, and so on; It’s extremely important to stay on the cutting edge of the different tech industries/areas we work in. So being able to not only run a company with 8 offices and global operation, but to also make sure we are cutting edge in the tech that we use and service, is the challenge.
Konsyg executes sales campaigns for Tech Companies on a Global Scale. What are some major differences and/or difficulties you find in conducting a sales business in Asia versus the Western hemisphere?
When looking at Asia, people might think of South-East Asia as one region, when it is comprised of at least 10 different countries. With APAC, there are 28 countries, which means there is a huge variety of cultures, languages, styles and perceptions. What that means is that when you enter these markets, you have to have a different approach for every single market. You have to have the cultural understanding to sell your product in Vietnam and how they buy, as well as in Thailand. They might be neighbors, but they are different in the way they communicate, understand the product, their purchasing process, and the way they desire being approached. It’s really important for companies to know that where different languages are needed to sell, you need the language and localization of the actual materials. That’s something we provide, so many companies won’t be able to breach this market barrier if they are English speaking only. Konsyg comprises teams that speak a wide range of languages such as Mandarin, French, Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, Cantonese, Bahasa, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Some entrepreneurs declare that it is difficult to develop young start-ups in the corporate world. How has Konsyg developed as a company?
Konsyg has developed as a need in the market. We aren’t selling a niche. We sell a service that any company in the world can use. As long as there is a fit between us, we are happy to have the conversations and put projects together. That’s why we are thriving and succeeding in the market today. We’re continuously improving our tech stacks, staying cutting edge in terms in the way we are selling products, and meeting international standards around sales and marketing. In addition, we’re developing specialized units within the company to cover different types of tech, whether that be medtech, fintech, adtech, or omnichannel products. We developed experts within our company who are specialized in launching those kinds of campaigns.
What were some of the biggest challenges for Konsyg?
The biggest challenge for Konsyg is that, even though we have a simple value proposition, helping people understand what we do can be very confusing for people. I think when people hear the word tech or sales, sometimes those terms discombobulate and so when you put those terms together as a “tech sales service” or “sales teams as a service,” the confusion increases. So we have to explain clearly to people that we provide an outsource sales team as a service.
In your opinion, how is Konsyg changing the nature of the sales industry?
We definitely are first actors. We have been able to really change some of the conversations around, how sales can be optimized in organizations. We’ve been seeing a lot of other companies that offer sales as service within the last couple years since we started (who may have been informed by some of what we’ve been up to). It seems as though we may have started some trends here, which has helped companies scale all over the world.
Lead generation is one of your assets to help B2B tech companies. What is the key to a successful lead generation campaign from a Sales as a Service perspective?
Lead generation falls into the pre-sales segment of the sales process. All the talent in our company are actually trained salespeople, not “lead generators” if that’s even a job. They understand how to close, what it takes to bring a deal into conversion, account management, customer success, and every step of the sales process. Lead generation is a part of any sales process, but it is not what we only do, which differentiates us from other BPOs who might only do appointment settings or “lead gen”. When we take on a lead generation campaign, we look at the entire sales process, from beginning to end, which creates really high success rates in our lead generation campaigns.
What’s important for companies to know is that a lead generation campaign is really important for filling the top of the pipeline for their sales team, so that the sales team doesn’t have to do all the presales activities. There’s nothing worse than a highly skilled salesperson having to create their own database from scratch or send emails all day. That should be done by the presales team who sends that to the highly trained closer. This allows for a more effective sales process, where your high valued resource, who is your closer, is supported by a team who is also highly trained and skilled and creating opportunities for that closer. Leaders in these companies need to understand how the actual sales process should work and be able to understand where it can be optimized and improved within the context of a highly functioning sales operation.
How did the spread of COVID-19 impact business? How did Konsyg remain agile?
We are a COVID-19 success story. When the coronavirus came through, we didn’t know exactly what would happen; there was a lot of uncertainty of course. I was actually flying to our offices in Vietnam from Jakarta when it hit, and I was lucky enough to get back to Bangkok before the borders closed. When I got back to Thailand, we had our contingency meetings. Fortunately, we didn’t have to execute any of them, but only tailor our value proposition and do some reengineering and optimization of processes. In fact, Konsyg has grown and thrived during COVID 19. We’ve brought on new clients, grown accounts, and have been able to deliver more on our accounts during this time. Now some regions have seen dips due to working from home, such as the UK, which is understandable. But businesses are opening back up and we are seeing a boom in business. We were really fortunate to have that, but it speaks to have that success during the first couple quarters of 2020. I believe that the foundational aspects of our business model is why the company has been successful over the years.
What are some of the ambitions/goals you have for Konsyg?
One goal for Konsyg is to continue to grow our presence and operations internationally. We have an office in the UK, which we then would like to grow more into the EU and have a stronger foothold in that region. We will also continue the process with our own tech, in which we have developed our own tech and training platforms for internal and external sales teams. We’ve been working on it for some time but it’s almost ready to be implemented internally. Then we will release it to broader audiences by the end of this year. We want to increase our multilingual campaigns and based marketing services into regions that are difficult to penetrate such as China, Japan and Korea, which are areas where we are seeing a lot of interest, as well as grow our offices in countries that are having a lot of growth such as Vietnam.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs or people who would like to start in the entrepreneurial adventure?
Get as much experience as you can in business before you start your own. Start working early and in as many places and types of companies that are within the same industry you are interested in. Intern and get as much as experience as you can before you get started. If you’ve already made mistakes with a different company/setting, then you’ll know what to do when you come across it again in your own business. Know that people you’re working with are the most precious resource you have in the company. So, with every person that you bring in, make sure they see the same vision as you, and that they’ll have a role in bringing the company to the next level and completing the vision. Every person that comes into the organization should have a role to play in that.
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