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Dragana Knezevic about Sales Strategies and Cultural Adaption

At Owlin, we couldn’t do what we are doing without the great work of everyone working with us. In this interview series, The People of Owlin, we ask them about their daily work, background, and where they see Owlin going in the future. This month: Dragana Knezevic, Account Manager. Join us for this enlightening interview and learn more about sales, client relationships, and cultural adaptation.

First things first, when did you join Owlin?

I joined Owlin in February 2022, so it’s been a year and a half.

Can you tell us about your role as an Account Manager at Owlin and the responsibilities that come with it?

Initially, I joined Owlin as a Sales Development Representative and worked my way up to become an Account Manager. As an Account Manager, I primarily take care of our clients and ensure their success. Building relationships and trust with them is the most rewarding part of my role. I have the opportunity to engage with various companies and individuals in different positions, and I need to understand their needs and provide tailored solutions.

Working at Owlin is a highly dynamic experience, and being part of a smaller company allows me to see the direct impact of my work. I witness firsthand how our solutions help clients overcome challenges and achieve their goals. It’s a fulfilling experience to contribute to the growth and success of our clients and Owlin as a company.

What did you learn about doing sales for a SaaS company?

Working in sales for a SaaS company has taught me that it’s not just about selling a product; it’s about selling a solution. It is crucial to truly listen to prospects and clients, taking the time to understand their pain points and effectively communicate those needs to the product and marketing teams. At Owlin, we focus on how our platform can solve those pain points and support our clients in their specific challenges.

One aspect of my job that I particularly enjoy is the puzzle-solving nature of sales in a SaaS company. It involves identifying each client’s unique requirements and finding the best way to address them. This requires staying informed about market trends, such as new regulations so that we can align our services to help clients navigate regulatory changes and other industry-specific challenges. By constantly learning and adapting, we can ensure our clients receive the most effective solutions to their problems.

How do you collaborate with the marketing team to align sales strategies and support marketing initiatives?

Customer feedback plays a significant role in shaping our sales and marketing strategies. We have brainstorming sessions every week where we share insights and exchange ideas. If I receive valuable client feedback, I communicate it immediately to ensure it reaches the relevant teams.

We develop meaningful content themes during these brainstorming sessions that directly address our client’s needs. We can create targeted and impactful marketing campaigns by combining our knowledge of client challenges and market trends. Additionally, whenever we have a new feature or enhancement in our platform, we invest more time in campaign planning, messaging, target audience identification, and lead generation. The sales team is critical in providing ongoing insights and identifying upselling opportunities to support the marketing team’s campaigns.

Can you provide an example of a successful marketing campaign that significantly impacted sales growth in your SaaS company? How did the sales team contribute to its success?

One recent example of a successful marketing campaign at Owlin was focused on targeting Payment Service Providers (PSPs). The marketing approach was tailored specifically for this sector, understanding PSPs’ unique needs. There was a significant increase in leads through various content formats such as whitepapers, blogs, and videos. These leads subsequently became new prospects and clients, contributing to our overall sales growth.

The sales team played an essential role in the success of this campaign. We provided valuable insights to the marketing team based on our interactions with clients and prospects in the PSP industry. Our feedback helped shape the messaging and positioning of the campaign, ensuring that it resonated with the target audience. By working closely with the marketing team, we were able to align our sales efforts with the campaign and convert leads into customers effectively.

What are you focusing on in terms of your service? What do you consider essential?

In terms of our service at Owlin, we continuously strive to improve and stay competitive by adapting to market trends. For example, when Large Language models were released, we immediately brainstormed on integrating them into our platform to make it more efficient and effective for our clients. In our dynamic environment, it’s not enough to have a good product; we need to emphasize the value it brings.

Nurturing client relationships is a top priority for us. We invest significant time in understanding our client’s requirements during the onboarding process, and we continue to support them throughout our cooperation. This includes answering their questions, providing guidance, and being open to their suggestions for improvement. By maintaining strong client relationships, we can better understand their evolving needs and deliver solutions that exceed their expectations. Ultimately, our client’s success is at the core of what we do, and we consider it essential to strive for their satisfaction and growth continuously.

Owlin is an internationally oriented company with offices in Amsterdam and New York City, and many expats are working with us. Therefore, we would like to know: as someone not originally from the Netherlands, how did you adapt to working and living in a new country and culture?

The Dutch culture is very different from where I come from, Bosnia. I appreciate the punctuality and the Dutch way of time management. Getting familiar with the culture and implementing its aspects in my work has made the transition easier. Dutch people have a collaborative nature, which aligns well with my role as an Account Manager.

What was the biggest culture shock you experienced when you moved to the Netherlands?

There were several culture shocks when I moved to the Netherlands. One of them was the early lunchtime around noon and the early dinner. The concept of splitting bills using payment apps called “Tikkies” was also new to me. Another surprising aspect was the absence of umbrellas despite the frequent rain. Also, I was amazed by the number of people riding bicycles and even transporting furniture or suitcases. The sight of parents carrying multiple children on their bikes was something I hadn’t seen before.

And what is your favorite thing about the Netherlands?

My favorite thing about the Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam, is that it makes me feel like a home away from home. As an expat, I can build my life here while embracing cultural differences. The work-life balance in the Netherlands is impressive, and people actively engage in outdoor activities, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy a vibrant lifestyle.

Did you encounter any language or communication barriers when starting your role at Owlin, and how did you navigate and address those challenges?

Although Owlin is a Dutch company, it is very international in nature. English is widely spoken, so language was not a problem initially. However, I recently started learning the language to immerse myself in Dutch culture further. I started with language learning apps, but I found it more effective to take a course. The learning process has been enjoyable, and now I am more familiar with the language. I can easily understand and respond when people speak Dutch. It has helped me in various aspects of daily life, from seeing ads in the city to watching TV shows.

Can you share an example of how your diverse background and experiences have positively influenced your work at Owlin and brought unique perspectives to the table?

My diverse background has made me agile and flexible in a dynamic SaaS environment. Things change rapidly, and adaptability is essential. This agility is not limited to work but also extends to my daily life. Being able to adapt to different teams and situations has been a valuable asset. It allows me to bring unique perspectives and consider various approaches to problem-solving, which contributes positively to the overall work environment.

What are the benefits of having a diverse and multicultural team in an organization like Owlin?

A diverse and multicultural team significantly benefits Owlin, especially considering our global client base. When we brainstorm ideas, the different cultural backgrounds and perspectives within the team surface, making the discussions more interesting and insightful. It also helps us better understand the needs and preferences of clients from various cultural backgrounds, enabling us to provide more tailored solutions and effectively cater to their requirements.

What advice would you give someone transitioning to a new country or culture for work? How can they adapt effectively and thrive in their professional environment?

My advice would be to come with no expectations and approach the experience with an open mind. It’s crucial to be curious and ask questions to facilitate learning. Integrating with society and meeting new people, including colleagues, is an excellent way to adapt effectively. Embrace the opportunity to learn about the local culture and customs. Building connections and fostering open communication will help you thrive professionally!

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