I always want to hire someone who is going to be better than me. Why wouldn’t I? If I can help someone become the best sales person on the team then I’ve done my job well.Neil Ryland
Always pushing to further his own abilities, Neil set himself a challenge in 2012. He wanted to establish the management team of a startup and build it up from the ground. At just 33 years old he achieved that goal when he joined European tech startup Peakon in October 2016 and has since been instrumental in developing the company. Neil’s role as VP Revenue keeps him busy within the company: hiring the most talented individuals, coaching and supporting his team, managing a budget and - on top of all that - keeping everyone in his workforce pushing towards that magical 100% sales figure.
Before joining Peakon, Neil worked for another tech company named Huddle. Within his first two years, he jetted off to San Francisco to help build up Huddle’s sales team and fill its brand new US office with the most talented individuals. This move came after he helped to secure more than $11million in funding for the business, which he describes as one of the most rewarding and exciting times of his career: “Being in the heart of tech, working directly with one of the co-founders to build out our US office and sales team was a huge learning curve for me,” he explains.
It was during his time at Huddle that Neil developed a passion for teaching and started a sales academy within the business, taking everything he had learned through his career to help build sales careers for other graduates. “I always want to hire someone who is going to be better than me. Why wouldn’t I?” he says.
“If I can help someone become the best sales person on the team then I’ve done my job well. I feel humbled and honoured that several of those graduates have since followed me to my new startup or have gone on to be successful account managers.”
As well as a seemingly endless supply of passion for his job, at the centre of Neil’s success is an unswerving ability to put the hours when it really matters: “I don’t claim to be the smartest or greatest sales person on the planet, but you will have to find a way to get 25 hours in the day if you want to beat me on effort.”
Despite being perfectly suited to sales, this high intensity career wasn’t always set in stone. After graduating from Lincoln University with a 2:1 BSc honours degree in Sport Science, Neil was at a loss as to what he wanted to do with his life. Lacking in confidence and working as a personal trainer, he struggled to gain new clients. When the role didn’t work out, he became a traffic management foreman, putting cones out on the road and feeling totally unfulfilled with where he was heading: “I knew I had so much more to give, if only someone would give me an opportunity and challenge me.”
I don’t claim to be the smartest, or the greatest sales person on the planet but you will have to find a way to get 25 hours in the day if you want to beat me on effort.Neil Ryland
It’s a phase a person can go through in any career, the moment where you question where you are, the occupation you’re currently committed to and the decisions that got you to that point. For Neil his frustration led him to the internet where he began searching for graduate business opportunities and found Pareto Law. After a conversation with Mark Lendon, Pareto’s Sales Director, Neil was inspired to pursue a career in sales.
Before Neil started in sales, he admits he lacked confidence in the role, not feeling entirely comfortable performing tasks such as making presentations in front of others. But, in stark contrast to his previous lack of confidence, a huge part of Neil’s career is connecting with people, speaking in meetings and conferences, and creating and nurturing client relationships, along with proposing and closing deals. Despite his initial setbacks Neil’s career has given him confidence, determination and a sense of purpose.