"The key drivers of happy sales teams are teamwork, craftspersonship — that is, always seeking to do our best, and autonomy." - Raymond Hüner

Raymond is General Manager, Benelux and Nordics, for Freshworks. Prior to joining Freshworks, he spent 15 years with IBM, five with Hewlett Packard, and three with LinkedIn.


What do you love about sales?

Helping people and businesses to achieve their objectives! I love digging to the core of what a person or a company is trying to achieve, what their sense of purpose in the business is. Working consultatively makes you a much better salesperson. It brings everything together and makes it an amazing, amazing job.


What motivates you to be a great sales leader?

What drives me is having a positive impact on people's lives. It's important to help people find a sense of purpose in their work. What drives me is having a positive impact on people's lives. It's important to help people find a sense of purpose in their work.


What, in your opinion, are some key drivers of happy sales teams?

Teamwork, craftspersonship — that is, always seeking to do our best, and autonomy. When people have a sense of autonomy, when they are not being constantly micromanaged, I find them to be much more open to trying new things. Autonomy is a great motivator and it’s important that people feel that. You make it safe for people to express themselves, to generate new ideas. There is real freedom in that perspective. People contribute more, continuously try to improve and master new skills. We are united in our purpose and the whole team performs better.


What are some successful tactics you use to promote team happiness?

It’s important to have agreements around how you collaborate as a team. At Freshworks, we start each quarter with a themed kick-off that always includes some elements of fun. (If we take ourselves too seriously, it's not going to work, right?) One quarter, our theme was trust. Another time the theme was “strength fires” where we focused on learning everyone’s core strengths and talents so we can collaborate more effectively. Last quarter, our theme was “turning adversity into advantage.” That session taught us a great deal about how to be vulnerable with each other, to acknowledge we don’t always have the answers, but we can work collectively to find them.

We are going to focus on collectively improving our performance. We're all going to take time to think about how we work together as a team, how each one of us contributes, and how we might improve. At my team’s request, we have also started having daily, morning meetings in which we discuss issues we are facing and how we might help each other. When you've got the culture right, and the sense of purpose is clear, there is nothing you can’t accomplish. 


Do you believe there is a connection between sales team happiness and performance?

In my experience, high performing-teams are usually very happy. One definition of happiness is being proud of what you do, right? If you are proud of what you do, you feel happy, which feeds back into the pride. It’s a self-propelling cycle.


What is your secret to building a high-performing sales team?

Every time I start a new job, I look at People, Process, and Performance — in that order.

First, you need to get the team right. So, I look at attracting talent and developing the people I already have. If a person is, for whatever reason, unhappy or not in the right place, I will help them to find a new role where they can continue to be ambassadors for what we do. This is all super important for building a team that can perform well over the longer term. After people, I work on the process. Build the people and the process correctly, and performance will follow. If you focus on performance alone, you won’t succeed — at least not in the longer term.


Any closing thoughts?

Balance is key! I always encourage the people on my team to reflect and take the time to do things they really love — to balance life with work. We all love our jobs, and balance leads to happiness, which, in turn, engenders sustainable high-level performance.

(The interview was conducted during the second half of 2020. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.)