Interview with Head of Sales for Europe - EffectiveSoft
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Interview with Olga Gomankova, Head of Sales for Europe and the Middle East

Olga Gomankova joined EffectiveSoft eight years ago and built her career in the Sales Department, where she is now the Head of Sales for Europe and the Middle East. Let’s talk with Olga about her professional experience, her team, clients, and her vision for the world of sales.
10 min read

    You grew from Manager to Director at EffectiveSoft and have eight years of countless meetings and deals under your belt. What drives you to keep moving up?

    It always brings a smile to my face when I remember that I got the job at EffectiveSoft on the 3rd attempt. I really liked the company and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of such a great group of people who constantly learn, develop, and strive for improvement. Eight years ago, I started my career at EffectiveSoft as a Sales Assistant and grew to become a Sales Director (for Europe and the Middle East). It’s impossible to count how many meetings I’ve held, how many clients I’ve met in person and online, and how many projects I’ve accomplished. I realized that the biggest secret to success is understanding clients’ needs and pain points (both personal and on a company level), the overall business strategy of the client company, the ways we can step in and bring value, and, most importantly, building relationships based on trust and respect.

    What drives me? The answer to this question will be the job itself. For me, it is a way of life. I always look for new opportunities, love talking to different people representing different cultures, learning something new from them, and gaining new experiences. The best things you can learn come from other people!

    I also started my MBA program a year ago, which is another thing that drives me. It brings me joy to acquire new skills and knowledge that I can apply to my work, while also thriving off an additional opportunity to grow my network.

    In your opinion, what is the most important stage of the sales process?

    Of course, all stages are key to sealing a deal with a client, but I find the preparation to be one of the most important processes, taking into account that there’s a lot of preparation at every stage when working with people. My favorite part is learning about the personalities and the backgrounds of the people that I’m going to have a meeting with. It’s important to understand how we can help them succeed with our projects. It’s also necessary to properly prepare before a meeting to capture the essence of the business, industry, and technologies that we are going to work with, as well as the challenges that we may encounter.

    Since COVID started, online meetings became more routine compared to talks in person that we’ve all been missing. Both online and in-person meetings require prior research, but the latter usually takes more time, with an emphasis on the cultural differences that should be acknowledged with respect. I prefer meeting people in person because it’s more collaborative, you can read people’s body language and respond to it, the discussions are more fluid and dynamic, and you don’t have to rely on the Internet connection. Face-to-face conversations are relationship-based, they help establish trust with clients.

    When you work in sales, you should really embrace everything that comes with it. You have to be able to adapt to different situations, cultures, and individuals while also feeling confident, keeping everything under control, and enjoying your experience.

    Have you faced any major challenges in your career and how did you manage them?

    For me, challenges mean that there’s something new to learn. In sales, a challenge is entering a new market, such as the UAE, for example. It is a whole new world, different from the European or the US markets that we are already familiar with. When we just began our MENA region investigation, I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be easy. The mindset and culture are almost nothing like ours, different from what we are used to. However, it’s an extremely attractive market that offers many opportunities for growth and rapid development.

    The main principle of my work when it comes to overcoming difficulties is the power of knowledge and individual approach to a client. That’s the principle that we applied when we entered the UAE market as well. As soon as we sealed the first few deals and began our work in this region, our clients started to recommend us to their partners. Word of mouth had its effect.

    Let’s meet in the UAE!

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    How do you build processes within your team and with other teams?

    This is a very relevant question, especially when your work depends not only on your department, but others as well. To win clients, remain a trusted partner to them, and deliver valuable products, you need to work as a team. Since all the departments are interdependent, it’s essential to build strong, cross-functional communication among all the units. My sales team can’t operate without the marketing team, as they help investigate the market, identify and analyze the pain points of a client and the industry as a whole, articulate the right message, and get it through to the client. It’s important to do the positioning strategy and market segmentation properly to meet clients’ expectations, offer our best expertise, and deliver valuable results. Delivery teams also have a significant role in the cross-department cooperation, as everyone should be on the same page when it comes to a project scope, product deliveries, client requirements, and other aspects of a project. Cooperation is one of the decisive factors in risk mitigation—if all the departments communicate well, we are on the safe side.

    What are the competitive advantages of EffectiveSoft?

    We follow the best industry standards in terms of code quality, work methodologies, and a continuous improvement approach at all levels in our company. We consistently seek and invest into new knowledge, strive to learn new technologies and innovations, deliver valuable solutions strictly following the IP rights of our clients, and do our best to observe and adapt to market changes. We’ve adopted an organizational culture where everyone is responsible for the quality of our products, not just the QA team.

    We approach each project and client individually. For us, each client has a unique story and their own ambitious goals that we support and put into action by delivering working results in accordance with special KPI metrics. I’ve pointed out the importance of in-person meetings with our clients before, and that’s also our advantage. Offline talks give us the opportunity to share a connection with a client and show them that we care not only about business, but about building relationships for the future. The client is always the center of our attention, they drive our work. With all our passion, every day we learn how to become better.

    How do cultural differences influence the work in different markets?

    We recently entered the UAE, it’s a fascinating market with unique features. The UAE clients are more tough when it comes to bargaining. Another peculiarity is that they can message you in the late hours and expect you to answer them at once. They communicate mainly via WhatsApp, leaving email only for very formal occasions, they like to talk about their personal life, and their approaches and work models are unusual to us. For the UAE market, everything is about the relationship and trust, that’s why it is important to meet in person. The main advantage of this market is that clients recommend you to their partners if they are satisfied with your work. At the same time, clients from the UK are more business-focused and get straight to the point, which is also great. They separate personal relationships from work.

    At least 3-4 times a year, we try to have Road Shows in different countries (Germany, UK, UAE). It’s important for us not only because it’s a great opportunity to find new clients and maintain contact with the current ones, but to learn about cultures, people, companies, how they do their business, and how we can contribute to their success.

    I love working with all of my clients, whether they are from Europe, USA, or the MENA region. The key to building successful communication is learning clients’ cultures, respecting them, understanding the differences, and feeling comfortable embracing them.

    How do you see the current market from a global perspective?

    If we look at the market from the perspective of macro and micro levels, each region, industry, and client is different, not just because of their locations, but also because they have different experiences, requirements, and approaches to development, such as specific certifications applicable only to a certain market.

    However, each region also has its own needs. Dubai, for example, is becoming a financial center and attracting a lot of new investments from Private Equity Houses. In the era of globalization, Arab countries may become a connecting point between different parts of the world.

    That’s why I find it so interesting, inspiring, and insightful to work with other cultures—it helps me to understand the global picture.

    How do you adapt your working approach to the constantly changing market and technologies?

    The main aspects of our approach are flexibility, staying in line with the quick changes, constantly conducting market research, and trying to instantly adapt to any transformations and innovations. When I began my career, many companies were using PHP or React; nowadays there are a lot of various alternatives in terms of technologies, including React/Node.js or Golang. It’s important to be data-driven and follow the market, that’s what identifies progress.

    I think, to be successful in business, especially in our industry, you need to apply the best practices, such as data analytics. High-ranking companies enhance their rapid growth with the help of Big Data and by investing into R&D, because they embrace change and choose the right strategy with the focus on improvement and, of course, a value-driven approach. It’s also worth mentioning again that we all are driven by clients and their changing requirements. Understanding the client means that we can achieve success and share the win together.

    How has the approach to sales at EffectiveSoft evolved through the years?

    Everything is changing so rapidly—the market and the company are completely different from what they used to be when I first started. The main innovation introduced to our workflow is the automation of sales processes in terms of data and other routine procedures. We still learn every day, and everyone in the company contributes to the growth and progress of EffectiveSoft.

    And the last thing, I would also like to answer the question that was not asked, “why am I still here?” Eight years is quite a lot! Because of people—the EffectiveSoft team and my clients!

    I hope someone from my clients will read this interview and smile! I love you all, from all industries and countries!:)

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