Welcome to the third episode of Inside Index. With each Inside article we invite you to discover our agency via interviews with our experts. This week we interview François LaPalme, VP Digital Strategy and Sales Manager.
François LaPalme, a lifelong Quebecer, joined Index 3 years ago to take on the role of Vice President, Digital Strategy, and Sales Manager. He had previously worked in finance before moving into the web marketing field. Soon after they met, Jeremy, Index founder, offered François a job helping Index clients build their digital strategies with the added challenge of integrating artificial intelligence into the process.
The client must benefit from added value
François sees his mission as pushing the agency’s strategy forward as needed. François is in charge of developing new accounts with new clients but not solely for financial reasons. “I need to make sure that the client sees working with Index as beneficial.”
In Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”, one of Jonathan Belfort’s (played by L.Di Caprio) most famous rejoinders is, “If you give people a good enough ‘why’ they will always figure out the ‘how’.”
The customer must be able understand the “Why” right away
In sales, François puts the emphasis on results, on the concrete rather than on castles in the air. “When I offer a product, it needs to be good enough that clients can immediately see its value (the ‘why’) and will find their own way to get it (the ‘how’) – by revising their budgets, convincing their superiors, and so on…”
Flexibility fosters growth
“I had to change my sales strategy because we offer different products from the sector I was previously in. So, I needed to change the way I was working, my procedures.” François also needs to make the agency stand out from the competition, especially because he is often the client’s first contact with Index.
In addition pushing the Index sales strategy forward, François himself has evolved since his arrival. Today, his title could be VP Marketing – AI Solution Strategist. “I also need to explain the benefits and increased performance that an artificial intelligence solution can bring to a client.”
His own evolution has been his biggest challenge
The biggest challenge François has faced is his arrival at Index and all that it entailed: a complete change of ecosystem with the addition of AI, plus the evolution of his own career. “I had to learn a lot about artificial intelligence and I had to adapt very quickly in order to be convincing and to show that I truly knew the subject I was broaching with clients.”
His job is performance oriented – in two ways. First, François must perform successfully so that clients will return to work with Index again. The second facet of his job is to clearly demonstrate the agency’s performance to clients so that “they are aware from the start what is possible and are satisfied in the end.”
Interpersonal skills, positivity, emotional stability
For François, there are 3 essential qualities to being a good Vice President of Sales. First of all, you need good interpersonal skills. “I try to understand what clients are most concerned about by talking with them and to keep things moving forward with the sale.” Also, François advises maintaining a positive attitude because “it’s not always easy to go through a period without sales.” Finally, speaking of periods without sales, you need to have a certain emotional stability in this job.
– A question from Judith – What led you to specialize in marketing strategy, particularly in web marketing, after your background in finance?
“I didn’t want to keep working in finance because it’s an environment that’s not transparent enough for me.” It is because of this experience in finance that François broke into the web marketing field. “I fell into web marketing in 2006 when it was just starting out. So, I was able to start from square one like everyone else. However, I was in touch with an SEO expert so that made me stand out.”
See you soon for the next edition of Inside Index, the only blog giving you behind-the-scenes insights into the life of an agency specializing in web marketing!