Emma Sarson is Director of Sales at Apperio, a smart analytics dashboard that gives law firms and businesses real-time transparency on legal fees.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve worked in the world of technology for most of my career and more recently legal technology, working for a medium-sized software vendor looking after global law firms. I was head hunted for the Sales Director role at Apperio because of my background in the legal space, although this is the first time I’ve worked in the startup world. I am absolutely loving it. It’s an interesting transition going from a very well established company that has marketing resources and people to delegate tasks to, so going to a startup was a bit of a culture shock. It’s great to know that I’m going to work every day and making a significant difference to drive the company forward. I love that how fast-paced Apperio is.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishments to date?
I’ve had a very good track record of growing businesses and I really like doing something different or trying new things businesses haven’t done before. My other passion is mentoring people and building strong sales teams. Outside of work, I also mentor a couple of young female graduates in the industry.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned over the years?
Everyone makes mistakes when they first get promoted to management, and I think the biggest lesson that I learnt growing into a management role was going from being a colleague to a manager and dealing with that gracefully to earn the respect of the team. Work has to be fun, so it’s important to understand what really motivates people; why they care, why they’re here. If you can get into the hearts and minds of what really matters to people, and give them the autonomy to do the things they really want to do, they’ll be able to progress and grow. I don’t believe in micromanaging, you have to let people do things for themselves and if you hire good and talented people, you need to encourage and support them to help them succeed. Good management is all about positive psychology and reminding people of all the great things they have achieved – this is critical to building a strong team where everyone believes in themselves.
I always wish someone had told me to find my true passion earlier. I spent the first four years of my career working for a big tech distributor and I just wasn’t passionate about that. Find that thing that sparks that fire in you and pay attention to the skills you have. I was always a really good networker but I didn’t think that was a skill until much later on in my career when someone sat me down and told me it was highly valuable.
Another thing you don’t really get taught about is time management – making notes of things you need to do and the deadlines, acknowledging emails when they come in even if you know you don’t have time to action them right there and then. It’s all about consistency and projecting yourself as a reliable person – plus it really helps reduce your stress levels when you feel focused.
What do you think are the key things to focus on to build a truly transformational team?
I’m not building a team here yet but when I do bring a team on I think attitude, passion and enthusiasm are the core building blocks. You can’t teach attitude – people need to believe in the same vision and be working towards the same goal. If you’re super clear on who you are, why you exist and can communicate that clearly with every person you bring on board, the hire is more likely to be successful. In sales creating an air of competiveness is fun and really healthy, so I’ll definitely be introducing competitiveness.
Why did you use Kommol?
The time they first contacted me, Michelle and Sandra spent a good hour on a call with me to help me understand Apperio and the role – it was their personal touch and their ability to really get to know me that stood out.