This week we are spotlighting Eddie van Ravesteijn, our Director of Sales Enablement. Read more to find out more about Eddie and his thoughts on the value of enablement and gender diversity in technology.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

ER: I have worked in IT since 1998. I have a technical background and spent 10 years working as a technical consultant on IT projects for large companies, with a big focus on Microsoft infrastructure products.

In 2008 I came to work for Ivanti (RES Software at the time) as a pre-sales consultant. Pre-sales is the best job in the world. It combines your technical skills with commercial and communication skills. It is a job with a fantastic playing field selling technology to customers with a high focus on business value rather than technical features. In this job my love for the sales profession started to grow. I learned how important it is to be able to translate technical features into business value. Technology without value is… well… just technology. Technology translated into business value is: cost reduction, higher productivity, better compliance, optimal security etc… In my current role, Director Sales Enablement, I try to get our sales organization into this state of mind. Always put value first!

Q: Why is enablement so important for our business or any business?

ER: Enablement is really important in our business because software sales is tough. We do not have a product that you can touch, smell and feel. And sometimes business value is not that obvious. We tend to stay in our joint comfort zone, which is the technology that we sell, and with that, we tend to focus a lot on what a software product can do technically.

We want our sales people to focus on the bigger story behind the technology. Our sales people need to learn to understand what companies struggle with and what their business challenges are. If we can help solving business challenges with our technology and we can clearly state the difference in cost or the improvement in security or productivity, then, suddenly how we do it is less important. This sounds easy, but it is really not that simple. The market is continuously evolving. The challenges of tomorrow are different than those of today. Sales enablement’s role is to work with Product Management and Product Marketing, to identify those ever changing challenges and build messaging that addresses those challenges. Another important part of our role is then to take this message and teach our sales organization how to address this with our customers and partners.

Q: You get to meet almost all the new starters in EMEA. How do you think diversity helps an organisation?

ER: ​I have worked with four women in a team of five (!) at a point in my life where my manager was also female. This might have been one of the best teams I worked with in my career.

At Ivanti we often see women in the traditional roles of marketing and HR. I think it would be great to have more women in technical and sales roles. Diversity brings a different vibe. One does not need to be a scientist to see that atmosphere in a mixed environment is different than in male or female only environments. I think I’ve read research somewhere that showed that women are better sellers than men. Maybe because they are better listeners or intrinsically more interested? It strikes me that so few women choose a sales role in IT. The biggest young sales talent we had in an inside sales role in the past few years was a woman! Coincidence? 

Q: How do you think organisations could better support diversity?

ER: ​Tough question. Organisations are trying to crack this nut for years and I don’t pretend to have the wisdom to solve this. In our society we still see typical women’s jobs and men’s jobs. Does it have to do with an intrinsically difference of interest? I just see less female candidates applying for a sales role. Nevertheless, I believe it starts in the top of an organization. Executive teams should be equally balanced. Today, many executive teams are primarily formed by men. How diverse would it be if we had more female VP’s of products, or female Sales executives or even CEO’s,  who could be a shining example for other young women in our business? 

Another interesting statement I heard recently and that I felt was very valid, is that organisations need to seed technology to young people. We can influence interest for technology when women are girls. Meaning that if we want a broad spectrum of women in a multitude of roles in tech today, we should’ve started influencing via education 20 years ago. So maybe it just takes time and we should focus on young people and bring the love for this absolute fantastic technology business to girls in school.

Q: Who inspires you?

ER: ​​I do not have one special person that inspires me. I get inspired by colleagues and friends and family that I look up to. And I look-up to people when I can learn from them. People that can bring me something, that make me change my opinion, or the way I handle things. People that make me realize that at age of 48 I really haven’t learned everything there is to learn. Sometimes that is a brilliant young kid, sometimes that is that sales manager that never loses his temper and sometimes it is my wife who makes me realize that not everything is black and white.

I love presenting on stage and I can admire good presenters and performers. Sometimes I don’t even listen to what they say, I can just enjoy the suppleness and the subtleness and timing that good performers show when on stage. 

Q: What are you reading or binge-watching at the moment?

ER: ​​I do love Mob series like Narcos, Breaking Bad and The Sopranos and everything Quentin Tarantino. Currently I am watching Casa de Papel on Netflix. A Spanish series about a group of criminals lead by a very smart man called “the professor”. They do not only rob the Central Bank, they actually lock themselves in and work the money presses for days to print money. Their philosophy: we didn’t really rob anyone, because this money that we printed ourselves did not belong to anyone yet. Of course everything falls apart, but enough, go see it for yourself.  I don’t binge-watch. My max. per day is 2 episodes because I would forget what happened in the first episode when I watch four more.

If you had to describe Ivanti in three words, what would they be?

  • Family, Fun, Still-a-whole-lot-to-do

Anything else you would like to say to our readers?

  • Maybe this is boring, but this is my personal rule for life: Design your own life and career. Learn and be inspired by others. Be open for other opinions and influences, but do take matter in your own hands and never let anyone tell you that something is impossible. We are able to achieve a lot in private and corporate life if we believe in what we do, we are dedicated and we are having fun along the way. And that last thing is most important of all. If you have fun, you can take on the world!

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