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Interview with Cybersmart's Hugh Furness

10 min read

Hugh Furness has been involved in the IT channel for over twenty years, with expertise across the tech sales industry.

Most notably, Hugh was instrumental in the runaway success of Wasp Barcode Technologies in the early ‘00s, and is now putting his strategic expertise to use at Cybersmart.

As part of our whitepaper case study on how SaaS companies have adapted to remote work, we interviewed a number of experts, below are Hugh's insights:

How Cybersmart Have Adapted To Remote Work

Some brands that have been a luxury are now becoming a necessity - things like Slack, HubSpot, Google Meet and Zoom. 

When working remotely, weekly meetings are just not enough. Hugh notes that they transitioned to a more “stand up in the morning at 10 o'clock, stand down at five” kind of process where you open and close the day together. 

Many sales leaders, Hugh included, weren’t really advocates of flexi-time prior to COVID. However, this period has shown many leaders that teams can work successfully remotely and there has been a shift in how we think about it. 

Processes can work remotely, and flexi time should be encouraged.


How Hugh Has Maintained Sales Team Coherency 

As a sales manager you’re no longer just looking at how someone is performing, but leadership has become more about how they are feeling. Focusing on the team’s mental health and creating a safe space for conversation has been so important.

Getting a team working well together is one of the most rewarding aspects of sales. A key challenge is that individuals have had to work very independently when they thrive in a team. Although we're there, we're on a call or meetings not face to face, so sales people still have to work independently to achieve what they need to achieve.

How Cybersmart Have Tackled Remote Wellbeing 

Cybersmart started offering more social activities to keep morale up. They do a pop quiz, a Friday night virtual drink, yoga and mind health sessions and other activities to boost morale and team bonding.

Creating things like breakout rooms online where people can go and chat honestly if they are struggling is a great idea. Hugh’s company did this and had people speaking about how we're feeling and about how lockdown is affecting any individuals, they had a breakout room where people would go and speak to someone, a specialist, about how you’re feeling.

The feeling amongst sales professionals is that it’s good to get departments together to share knowledge and how they are doing things. No one has done remote working to this extent before, so we all have something to share. Getting different companies or external coaches and guides together to talk about what's happening out there, what's going on and how the marketplace is looking is valuable.


How Remote Work Has Shaped The Cybersmart Onboarding Process 

It’s important to keep the integrity with the layers of the interview and onboarding process. It’s still important that a candidate goes through the different stages that they would if they were face to face. With lots of layers to the process, you can still gauge individuals, you can still get their reactions within the communication.

When onboarding remotely, it’s crucial to know that the team member has understood what is being said, and that is hard to measure. Cybersmart asks them to feedback what they’ve learned via a presentation so that sales leaders can get an understanding of how much the new recruit knows. It’s more of a test of how well the onboarding process is going, than any reflection on the individual.

Hugh notes that they are now measuring how well someone is ‘getting’ the culture of the business as well as their knowledge and understanding. It’s important to gauge how they are fitting with the company culture and deciphering what they would like the company culture to look like now they are part of it.

This interview was conducted as part of our whitepaper study on remote work in the SaaS world. Get your free copy here

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Published on:

March 21, 2021

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