Patrick Lavergne of Officevibe on building a career in sales and how to become an unstoppable force in the workplace
Patrick Lavergne is the VP of Sales at Officevibe, an employee engagement software platform that helps managers become better leaders. Patrick has spent most of his career as a sales leader and has a deep passion for helping others find their purpose. His Why is to help millions of people unlock their potential.
Looking back ten years, where did you think you’d be by this point in your career? How did you get here?
I was never the kind of person who had a “career game plan”. Ten years ago, I had no idea where I would be at this point in my career and looking forward ten years, I still don’t have a clear idea of where I’ll be then. I started my sales career at age 16 selling meat door to door and worked in various sales roles until I was Thirty. I love sales because it is such an amazing way to grow personally while adding value to the lives of others. By the time I turned Thirty, I woke up to realize that it would probably be a good idea for me to go and get a university education. This led me to complete a Bachelor in finance and then go on to do a Masters in corporate strategy. After my Masters, I moved into more management related roles and developed a passion for building people through the lens of building businesses. That took me to where I am today as the VP of Sales for Officevibe.
You are an individual who is very passionate about being in sales. Tell me about why that is.
For me, Sales is the intersection between what a company builds and what people outside of the business need. I’ve always had an interest in that intersection point as being there allows me to help people explore the value that different products and services can bring to their lives. It’s not about me. It’s about you. I also believe that sales is an amazing school for life. Very quickly, you learn to be curious, genuinely care about the issues of others, and approach those issues through a lens of empathy. You also need to learn grit and perseverance as you tend to deal with your fair share of rejection and failures. That being said, I truly believe being in sales has shaped me into who I am today.
What is the most misunderstood thing out there about how to set up a sales organization for success?
Very often, Sales organizations are set up to be profits first before people first. There are lots of sales people out there who can masterfully set up systems and infrastructure but often, the people get forgotten about. In Sales we tend to focus on the numbers and the science but so much of sales is about people, especially when it comes to building and coaching your own team. I’ve been apart of teams where the best years that we had numbers wise, was not the best year overall. This was simply because the people on my team didn’t feel like they were growing or working toward something they cared about. The years which have stuck with me are the years where as a collective, me and my team have grown and progressed and where we built real relationships with our clients through trust and respect. Too many sales organizations are set up to be win-loose. The ones who get it understand that being in sales needs to be win-win. You don’t close sales, you form relationships.
What were some of the most important business lessons that you have had to learn the hard way? How have they made you successful?
I used to be someone who had a fixed mindset. I didn’t always enjoy challenges because I didn’t like the idea of failure. After having the opportunity to be an induvial contributor in sales, build sales organizations and help others become better sales people, I’ve learned how important our mindset is in one’s success. You need to shift towards a Growth mindset and this is something that I had to learn over time. I also learned that you can’t just be focused on that end goal too much because that is not what is important. I found myself and some people who I knew in sales getting pretty stressed and depressed when they fixated on trying to hit certain career milestones to their own detriment. When you take a people first, growth oriented mindset, dealing with things like rejection, failure and disappointment becomes much easier. You get good at getting hit over the head with a negative result and being able to learn from it quickly. These are all such important things in all aspects of business and in life.
What does leadership look like to you? What makes a great leader?
Leadership is first and foremost about helping others grow. It’s about getting curious about others, showing empathy and helping people progress. It’s also about crafting a compelling vision and helping people connect with it. I want to dispel the myth that leadership is about a title, a fancy suit or event experience for that matter. I have people much younger than I am teaching me lessons of leadership all the time. Great leaders learn constantly from others as they learn to distance themselves from their ego. I’m thankful to have worked with a number of strong leaders who inspired me through their actions and life philosophy.
What would be your one piece of advice for someone in the workforce today to get ahead and find work that is fulfilling?
The most important thing is getting clear around what your purpose looks like. What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to get out of it? These are important questions to ask yourself and I wish I did more of that in my twenties. Find a role and a company that will help you build that vision. If you feel like you’re in a dead end, you’re probably in a dead end. You need to get courageous and find a company that will help you progress. I know it’s easier said than done, but nothing worth doing is easy. The way that you ultimately become an unstoppable force in the workplace is when you are in a spot where you feel you are learning, growing and aligned with the vision and values of the organization. That’s when you’ll feel passionate about your work, taking pride in what you do.