We sat down with Christopher Vik to discuss his experience within tech, his vision for the Sales Team, and why he sees sales as both an art and a science.
Over the past 12 months, we at Leapwork have doubled both our own headcount and our number of customers. As a part of our plan for global sales growth, we've appointed Christopher Vik as our Senior Vice President of Global Sales. Chris is an experienced leader who has successfully scaled high-growth U.S. software companies in EMEA.
So Chris, could you tell me a little about your background and your experience within tech?
After having studied anatomy and physiology I was determined that I wanted to go further, with Osteopathy. I realized that being in a small room with patients all day was not going to inspire me in the long run and changed my trajectory. Shortly after that decision, I took a different career path: I moved to London and started at a Business School.
Growing up, I always enjoyed selling. In the past, I thought that selling was more an art than a science, but that all changed after I met my first mentor, Cedric, in a company called Bazaarvoice.
My perception of sales changed radically—I learned that being extremely prepared and immersing myself in the details was the difference between just showing up, and showing up and winning. I also learned the power of being surrounded by strong leaders, and how they can develop you, which can drastically change the trajectory you are on.
How do you approach leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
I think leadership for me has changed as I have evolved and had my own experiences. My mantra has always been that I won't ask people to do things that I would not myself be willing to do. The key is to lead from the front and to have the vulnerability to show that it's okay to fail, as long as you learn from the experience.
I look at myself as a teacher, which I think says a lot about the philosophy of what we want to build here. I want people to feel like this is an exciting time in their professional lives where they're going to learn a lot and become the best version of themselves professionally.
For me, leadership is about setting expectations and goals. Sometimes those are higher than the mindset of the individual, but starting with the mindset and believing in greatness is always step one.
Step two is to reverse-engineer the plan and break it down into activities on a quarterly, monthly, and weekly basis. Now that goal becomes SMART and does not feel like a daunting task. I truly believe that people will fail the goals they set for themselves if the correct systems are not put in place.
My job is to ensure that we have a scientific plan for how to make our sellers productive quickly through great enablement, and make them more successful than they imagined possible through a strong leadership team that believes in continuous coaching.
My leadership style is direct, we call it what it is, put it on the table, and build a plan together. Then we execute. I also very much welcome a two-way conversation—I believe it's the only way we can build a culture that will be known for consistency, rather than intensity.
What are your ambitions for the Sales Team at Leapwork?
I want every seller to say "I have never in my career learned or earned as much as I have here, and I've never been as happy and content in my entire career as I am at Leapwork."
People working in the sales organization have seen evidence of promotion from within and they gladly recommend us to their friends, due to our unique culture compared with other hyper-growth companies. Our flat, Nordic leadership style, mixed with taking the best from a proven playbook and adding in mastering how to run it with the Channel, is something that no one has truly got to grips with yet.
I also believe that if we communicate often with the sales force, provide them with clarity around expectations, and always let the cultural impact be a key compass for decision-making, I think we can build something special here.
My vision is to put an industry-defining training and enablement plan in place for the sales team and to ensure that we can show them a career pathway from SDR all the way to the top. We always focus on 3 layers in this program: First line Leader, Geo Leader, and WW enablement.
That way, we always have an opportunity to ensure that every seller gets a certain level of quality in their personal development.
What kind of people would you like to see in the Sales Team at Leapwork?
I have high expectations in general, not only for myself but for everyone I run with. The organization we're going to build here and our approach will be based on high talent density and frequency. That means that we recruit often, but we recruit people that keep raising the bar every time a new person walks through the door.
We look for people with a high IQ, EQ, and also high AQ—the adaptability quotient is instrumental in being able to pivot in a start-up environment where things change fast. In short, Leapwork salespeople see themselves more as entrepreneurs with the resourcefulness to start territories from scratch, where their drive and commitment to excellence is inspiring to everyone else around them.
'A players' want to be surrounded by other 'A players.' If you are able to, recruit, retain, and develop 'A players,' they will in turn create magic for you. That's how you build a legendary team that is envied by competition and their peers.
What kind of culture do you want to develop in the Sales Team at Leapwork?
I think that our CEO Christian Brink describes it as the American accountability-based performance culture with a Nordic leadership style. And what that really means is that the door is always open and every suggestion for improvement matters.
The beauty of working for a company that strives to make people consciously competent in how they do their job is that when you then make the shift into leadership, you're already consciously competent on the HOW and can now teach others, which means you can scale fast.
All in all, I want to create a winning culture with great people who are fun to go to work with every day and that will be remembered for building something special.
Christopher Vik, SVP Global Sales
Christopher Vik is Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Leapwork, a rapidly growing no-code test automation company. A leader with advanced expertise in launching products into new markets, Vik is known for successfully scaling U.S. software companies in EMEA. Vik previously served in senior sales positions at high-growth companies such as Fuze, Cybereason, and TripActions.