Meet the Team: on the road with NordLayer’s Sales Vice President

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Justas, judging by your social media presence, your career is like a whirlwind, bouncing between airports and conferences. Do you keep track of all the events you attend? 

Absolutely, I must keep tabs on the events I attend to manage our budget effectively 🙂 

On a more serious note, in 2023, we've been engaged in various activities. Locations like London, San Francisco, and New York are on our horizon. It's an exciting time for NordLayer as we connect with potential clients personally whenever possible. This gives us an excellent opportunity to gather feedback and fine-tune our growth strategy. Plus, it’s an excellent chance for our team to understand the market better, see our competitors in action, and deepen our industry knowledge.

Have conferences and sales events evolved? Will augmented reality (AR) play a role in this shift?

The essence of these events stays the same–networking, meeting people, and showcasing your product. With budgets as the only real constraint, creativity knows no bounds in the modern conference setting. 

Competition is intense. Everyone strives to make a lasting impression on conference attendees. AR will enhance, not replace, live events. I’ve observed a gradual increase in virtual events, which makes sense as they retain the element of personal interaction, which is crucial to these experiences.

Could you share some behind-the-scenes insights from sales events and conferences? What's the most unexpected experience or revelation you've encountered in your sales career?

Behind the scenes, it's like an entirely different event. We're fortunate to have a dedicated and skilled team of event managers, Monika and Greta, who handle all the minute details. 

It may seem glamorous from the outside—visiting major cities, meeting new people, and engaging in social activities. However, it requires considerable effort. Days are often filled with non-stop conversations, and staying upbeat and energetic is critical. This rigorous routine typically lasts three days, often involving 10-14 hours daily, including evening networking events.

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Although it can be exhausting, the dynamic nature of sales events keeps me captivated. We've experienced everything from keynote speakers getting cold feet to misplacing booth materials or inadvertently attending our leading competitor's VIP event.

What is the daily routine for a salesperson at such events? How does the team get ready?

Our primary objective is to stand out from our competitors. We typically arrive a day early to ensure everything is set up correctly. Before traveling, we gather as a team to review the game plan, ensuring everyone understands how to maximize our visibility. 

I always double-check with the team if we've covered all potential networking opportunities. Successful sales often take place away from our booth—in coffee shops, at breakfast or dinner, or at networking parties. Once the event begins, it's all about positive interactions. If we're lucky, these connections lead to sales. Our team members must be mentally and physically prepared for this demanding process.

What's the most unexpectedly effective networking strategy you've seen at a sales conference?

That's a difficult question to answer. Everyone’s got their unique formula for success, from running lotteries to exhibiting flashy attractions like F1 cars, having celebrities at their booth, and hosting extravagant parties. But the real question is, what actually works?

Now, let’s go back from the event venues to the office. Salespeople are often believed to prioritize personal development to hone their selling skills. In your opinion, what should a sales professional focus on?

At the core, curiosity is the secret sauce. You'll naturally seek ways to grow and learn if you've got it. This is a top quality we look for in new hires.

Typically, salespeople concentrate on two key areas: sales techniques and industry knowledge. We're fortunate to operate in the rapidly evolving SaaS and cybersecurity fields, with lots of learning materials and resources at our disposal.

And here’s the thing, successful salespeople need to be well-rounded and capable of interacting with individuals from various backgrounds and seniority levels globally. To do this effectively, you must keep exploring and learning: travel, read, try new experiences, meet new people, and strive to understand them better. That’s the real recipe for success!

Do you have any recommended resources for self-development, such as books, events, or podcasts, for your peers?

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I often recommend that every salesperson starts with the book “Never Split the Difference.” It’s a great welcoming gift for new team members. Podcasts are a convenient way to learn on the go. I recommend following SaaStr Official, Outbound Squad, and Darknet Diaries.

We all know that “sell me this pen” challenge. What questions do you ask potential candidates when during the hiring process?

I generally ask, "Where are you now in your career, and what are you seeking?" I'm interested in how well candidates can express their current career stage and their vision for the future. This provides valuable insights into their character and sets the stage for an engaging conversation.

How have you incorporated feedback into your personal development, and how has it impacted your sales leadership style?

While we have extensive resources for providing effective feedback, mastering this skill remains an ongoing process. I frequently remind my team that reflection and feedback are essential for improvement. 

This philosophy significantly influences my development and shapes my leadership style. Although it may seem counterintuitive, a one-size-fits-all management style only sometimes works. Sometimes, adapting to different situations is necessary, and the feedback you receive can help you fine-tune your approach.

How do you balance the need for experienced salespeople versus new talents who may bring innovative ideas or fresh perspectives?

It's a constant negotiation with market realities. Onboarding new talent requires a robust system and resources to support their development. So, our hiring strategy depends on the circumstances and our capabilities. We maintain a strong senior team to manage operations because our ambitious goals demand expertise for achieving and sustaining growth. However, if you know any promising young talents, I'd be happy to meet them. We can definitely find a place for new bright minds in our team. 

What are your and NordLayer's event plans for the upcoming year?

We're all in. We've got an intense schedule ahead of us. Our team, now well-versed in the event circuit thanks to this year's experiences, is ready to take on the challenge. Expect to see us at events worldwide, as we'll be globetrotting very soon.

Thank you.

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