Members of the sales team at Xero have a habit of referring to their customers as partners. This slight distinction in terminology is part of what sets the tone for how the cloud-based accounting software company interacts with accountants and bookkeepers.
We spoke with three members of the sales team to learn how Xero’s internal structure encourages camaraderie amongst the team, as well as with potential partners.
EMPLOYEES: 2,000 globally
WHAT THEY DO: Xero is a public software company that offers a cloud-based accounting software platform for small- and medium-sized businesses.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Denver
NOTABLE PERKS: Generous PTO and weekly in-office breakfast and lunch.
BUILDING UP, BUILDING OUT: Xero's engineers are at the heart of the company's plans for expansion. Learn why.
Curtis Wright, Regional Director, Central U.S.
Curtis heads up the central region of the U.S. for the partner channels business growth efforts in the field. He also heads the partner channels inside business growth team, which is based in Denver and works with accountants and bookkeepers across the U.S.
BEYOND WORK: Curtis has always been an enthusiastic participant in team sports, but these days he spends more time watching his children play sports.
What is unique about selling at Xero?
Selling for Xero doesn’t feel like selling. We want to have a positive impact on the world by helping small businesses grow. Our teams do this by partnering with accounting professionals to educate them on how our business platform can help to build efficiencies not only for their firms, but also help increase the success rate of their clients by putting them in the position to better advise their clients. In short, I don’t view what we do as selling but rather educating or consulting our partners on our platform as an option.
I don’t view what we do as selling but rather educating or consulting our partners on our platform as an option."
What types of professional or career development resources are available at your company?
We have a program in place specifically for leaders in the company called M@X(Managing at Xero). This helps us to grow through not only training but situational feedback from our peer groups. The program has three tiers: one for aspiring leaders looking to take the next step, another for those who just moved into a leadership role and a third for people who have been in leadership for some time. I’ve really enjoyed the situational feedback since it allowed me to realize that managers across very different functions of the business were dealing with very similar employee issues as I was.
How do you support your team when they face challenges?
The team has a lot of responsibilities on their plate and at times they can feel overwhelmed. I try to do my best to listen to each of my team members and understand what about their workload is overwhelming or causing them stress. I usually try to help them determine for themselves what to prioritize and recognize which resources to use. The point is for them to take ownership of their work.
Celebrations for good work don’t always have to be big and splashy. Sometimes it’s a quick “thank you,” other times it can be a conversation acknowledging that they overcame a situation. I try to make it fit the person who had the success, as some may want a group call-out and others may be uncomfortable with that.
Nikki Maroney, Account Manager
Nikki supports accountants and bookkeepers from small to large accounting firms that want to grow in the cloud. She helps these partners achieve their goals, whether it’s becoming more efficient, growing their client base or spending more time with their family.
BEYOND WORK: In the summer, Nikki hikes in the mountains, and in the winter she skis and snowboards with friends and coworkers.
What about your product or service do you enjoy sharing with new customers?
I love sharing that our platform was born in the cloud and designed for that space. Unlike our competition, we’re not dragging legacy software to the cloud – therefore, we have an open API with over 700 apps. This may seem like a small differentiator, but there’s something to be said for being technologically forward from day one.
Unlike our competition, we’re not dragging legacy software to the cloud."
How would you describe the team dynamics and personality?
Our team dynamic is extremely fun and laid-back. One example of this would be when we were sitting around our desks and I jokingly suggested that we should have a live puppy cam in our office since dogs aren’t allowed. Within minutes, one of our teammates walked over to the head of IT to set up a live feed of golden retrievers. Since then we’ve adopted a panda cam, a stream of the South Pacific Ocean and live national park footage of grizzly bears hunting for salmon.
Does Xero offer any unexpected perks?
Through our Thrivepass account, Xero reimburses employees for almost anything that falls under the health and wellness category. I most recently used my Thrivepass stipend to pay for half of my ski pass this year. Whether you’re an Orange Theory enthusiast or a mountain climber who needs new climbing gear, Thrivepass is a great perk.
Christian Filus, Partner Development Representative
As the first point of contact for accounting and bookkeeping firms, Christian educates firms on the benefits of a partnership with Xero, answers initial questions about functionality and recruits for accounting events, such as Xerocon and the Xero Roadshow.
BEYOND WORK: Christian is into writing and performing comedy.
Describe a typical day.
I usually start with an Americano, answer emails and prioritize my tasks and calls. After about an hour or so, I start making calls to our partners and prospective partners to answer questions, get them set up on the Partner Edition of our platform or invite them to events. I spend 75 percent of my day on the phone. My teams and leaders meet on a weekly basis to praise what we’ve accomplished, talk about roadblocks and strategize for the next week.
What tools does the sales team currently use?
The main tool that I use is Salesforce. This helps me organize leads and add notes that other members of the sales team can also see. LinkedIn is also a major tool I like to use to see what’s going on in the industry and to let potential partners know about upcoming events and opportunities with Xero. Some other helpful communication tools we use are Slack, Dialpad, Google Hangouts and Confluence.
Networking is very easy at Xero and necessary for moving up the ranks in any company."
What types of professional or career development resources are available at Xero?
We all meet with our leaders to develop 30-day, 60-day and 90-day goals that also align with our larger goals within the company. In addition to that, we have what’s known as “coffee chats” where we are paired up with someone randomly in the office every two weeks to meet someone new and understand their role better. We also host events that allow teams to collaborate and talk more casually.
Personally, I was first introduced to my current role at a trade show in Boston while working in another department. After conversing with colleagues from the partner team, I realized transitioning to this role would be a good move for me. Networking is very easy at Xero and necessary for moving up the ranks in any company.